Welcome to part four of my miniseries on LinkedIn. Last time we looked at the “meaty” main sections of your profile page. Today I’m going to focus on the other sections that you can include to help you describe your services, give details of your qualifications and highlight any other aspects that potential clients might be interested in.
As I mentioned last time, you can change the order of the sections on your page to make it your own, emphasise what you feel is relevant and stand out from the crowd (certainly not an easy thing to do these days). At the moment, I’ve decided to put the Certifications section first because I want my potential clients to know that I’ve passed the ITI exam and am, therefore, qualified. You might not agree with my choice, and that’s fine, but I would recommend you fill in this section if you can since, according to LinkedIn, your profile will receive up to six times more views if you do.
The more sections you fill in, the better
You don’t have to use every section LinkedIn suggests, of course. Some of them won’t be relevant to you. I don’t use the Volunteering Opportunities, Honours and Awards, Test Scores (!) and Patents (!!) sections, which is quite possibly why the blue in my all-star circle showing my profile strength doesn’t quite reach the top (when you’re in edit mode, any sections you haven’t filled in will be displayed under your photo). But besides the experience and summary sections I mentioned last time, must-haves are Languages (especially for translators and interpreters), Education and Skills.
Languages and Education are self-explanatory. I’ve kept mine short and to the point, primarily because I finished school and university a long time ago and feel this information is scarcely important these days. However, if you wish, you can include a description, and the activities and societies you were involved in. You can even now add media to the Education section (a document, photo, link, video or presentation), just as you can to the Experience and Summary sections. This can certainly spice up what can otherwise become a rather dull white page with lots of text.
The endorsement problem
Where my profile might differ hugely from some colleagues’ pages is the Skills and Endorsements section, because I chose a long time ago to switch the endorsement feature off (as I first explained in the post Endorsements … who’d ‘ave ‘em). When LinkedIn first introduced endorsements, a mad scramble ensued in the translation community to gather as many as possible. Colleagues were able to specify skills for you and, as a consequence, I was endorsed for CAT tools I’ve never used and services I don’t provide.
But that’s not the only issue. Hand on heart now, if you have opted to show your endorsements, how many of them are from people you have done jobs for, who have actually paid for your services or worked with you on a project and have seen the quality you can produce? Ten? Five? Only one?
It would be far better to get the people you have worked for and with to write you a recommendation. Sure, not everyone can be bothered to do that for you, so some will just ignore your request or never get round to fulfilling their promise. But I not only firmly believe that recommendations are far better for your profile than endorsements, the latter also verge on being unethical more often than not. You should not allow colleagues to publicly approve your skills when you know they have no real knowledge of them, and nor should you reciprocate if the same holds true.
Naturally, if you choose not to show endorsements from relative strangers, you will end up with far fewer faces on your profile page than some of your competitors. That’s why I think it’s better not to display them in the first place. Clients are less likely to notice no faces than not many.
You may also decide not to use or display this section at all. Just delete any skills you have added and it will disappear from public view. Remember, though, that if you don’t list your skills, you could miss out on opportunities to be found in searches based on these words unless you insert them elsewhere in your profile.
Adapting the sections to fit the translation industry
And I would prefer Courses to be entitled CPD, as this is what I list in this section. I haven’t included everything here and instead I provide a link to the more detailed CPD description on my website in my Summary section. However, there are a lot of important keywords in this list that could get me found in searches and some clients do read this information for specific jobs. A course or webinar you’ve attended could make all the difference between being contacted for a project or overlooked.
In Organizations I list the work-related associations I’m a member of (such as the ITI, IAPTI and MET). And in Projects I’ve been tagged in by Nicole Y. Adams as one of the contributors to the book The Bright Side of Freelance Translation (which is no longer available).
The last two sections on my page are probably the least important but they flesh it out a bit and add a few more details about what makes me tick and where my passions lie. In Volunteer I list the majority of the charities I support and the causes I really care about (which anyone following me on Twitter will know are animal welfare, the environment and wildlife conservation). My Additional Info mentions something I hope will intrigue some business readers and send them to my blog, namely that I now have a stand-up desk and spend some of my working week on a treadmill.
I hope this post has given you a few ideas for your own profile. Please let me know if you have any suggestions below. In the next instalment we’ll look at groups.