Your LinkedIn profile is a tool to tell your professional story and with over 930 million users, LinkedIn is a fantastic way to make connections and find opportunities. Whether or not you are actively searching for a new role, keeping your LinkedIn profile optimized and making sure it stands out to recruiters and hiring managers is important. You never know who may have your dream job waiting for you, so make sure your profile is ready to go!
It is important to have a profile picture on LinkedIn as you’ll have higher engagement including 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests. This is your first impression to potential employers and connections in general. It should be professional, (relatively) recent and you should be the only one in it. If you do not have the ability to have headshots taken professionally, you can get great pictures with your phone. However, ask someone else to take it, no selfies on LinkedIn!
The cover photo is the horizontal picture at the top of your LinkedIn profile, just behind your profile picture. Use this to help further represent your personal brand by emphasizing an interest, target market, career, etc. Forbes has some great topic ideas for you to explore.
The headline is the text that appears directly below your name. It is a great opportunity to describe what you do and make your pitch in 220 characters or less. You can include skills, job titles, or even awards you have received. Make it as eye catching and creative as you can, but be careful not to be too cheesy! Simple + informative + creative = a winning headline.
The summary is the section below your name but before your experiences, also called the LinkedIn About Section. You will have 2,000 words to give the reader your elevator pitch on your experience, skills, and let your personality show. Hubspot has a great article on how to write a great summary.
Keywords are the words or phrases that people search for that will help them locate your profile. It is important to make your profile keyword-rich, especially if you want to be found by hiring companies and recruiters!
For a few ideas of searchable terms, you can include skills (i.e., SMS marketing, project management) or even software experience (i.e., Salesforce, SAP). Try to avoid using cliché terms such as ‘detail-oriented’ or ‘team-player’. These keywords will not set you apart and are more subjective.
Remember you can incorporate keywords throughout your profile including in the headline, subject, and experience sections!
This is where you will highlight your current and previous work experience including company names, titles, and a description of your responsibilities.
When adding the company name, start typing and select the company from the drop-down menu. This will link you to your employer and make you more searchable as well.
For your job title, LinkedIn offers a drop-down menu of options when you begin typing. If it is accurate and makes sense to do so, select one of the options it presents. These will be more searchable for recruiters. If your company uses titles that are funny or even tacky, find a title that is more commonly known and use that instead. For example, if your official title in your company is “SEO Ninja” substitute it for “SEO Manager”, “SEO Specialist”, etc.
Make sure to fill in keyword-rich descriptions for each role listed. Make this section, clear, concise, and readable. Do not use a block paragraph of text, but instead break it down into bullet points. While LinkedIn doesn’t have formatting options built in, you can use dashes, basic emojis (nothing crazy), or use this handy trick: hold down ALT and then type 0149 and you will get a nice little bullet point!
Getting recommendations from work colleagues or clients can help boost your profile by helping you stand out from the crowd and give you more credibility and trustworthiness. Ask for recommendations from someone you know well and you are confident they will create a well-written and positive recommendation. These should not be extremely vague but have examples or specifics of your work. You can ask for recommendations from clients, supervisors (preferably previous supervisors if you are filling out your profile for a job search), and even peers.
Customize your URL
LinkedIn gives you the ability to customize the URL of your profile so instead of a bunch of random numbers, your profile will be linkedin.com/in/YourChoiceHere. I would recommend making this a version of your name depending on availability. Having a custom URL looks so much nicer when adding your LinkedIn profile to your resume too.
To edit this, go to your profile, on the upper-right and side click the edit button next to ‘Public Profile & URL’.
Add Contact Information
LinkedIn gives you the ability to add personal contact information such as a phone number and email address. Though you may not want this public all the time, it can be helpful when you are actively searching for a new job.
To edit, go to your profile, and click on the ‘contact info’ link, right below your headline and next to your location, and add as much information as you feel comfortable.
In this section you can also link up your other websites such as a portfolio or blog!
Filling out the skills section on your LinkedIn profile will better help viewers to understand your strengths in a clear and easy way. Additionally, recruiters can search for candidates based on skills, so fill this section out as thoroughly and accurately as you can.
To add skills, go to your profile and scroll down to the Skills section. Click the plus (+) at the top right corner of the section and you’ll get a pop-up where you can add skills. Once you add a skill, check the boxes of where you used that skill.
Check Privacy Settings
At the top bar of your LinkedIn page, locate the small circle with your profile picture by the word ‘Me’. Click on that image and a drop down will appear, click on “Settings & Privacy” under the Account section.
Once you are on the settings page, on the left-hand side you will see “Visibility” and click on that.
Scroll through these visibility sections and make your profile as public as you feel comfortable with. Since your LinkedIn profile is now fully optimized you will want people to be able to find it, especially if you are job searching.
Engage and Network
Now that your profile is all set up, it is time to start networking with connections on LinkedIn. You can join groups, send introduction messages, and add thoughtful comments to posts you come across. You will want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your particular industry or within your skillset, so make sure to be active in groups and posts relevant to those topics.