With over 760 million members, LinkedIn is the largest and most popular social network for professionals. Not only is LinkedIn a valuable tool for connecting with other like-minded professionals, but it also has a wealth of information you might find beneficial to your career or job search.
However, LinkedIn isn't just a social media platform. It can also be used to create a personal brand that can help you in all aspects of your career.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is crucial for your personal brand. As LinkedIn evolves and continues to add useful features to its site, we wanted to share a few key tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
- Customize Your Profile URL
All LinkedIn members have a URL that directs visitors to their profiles. When you first create an account, LinkedIn will assign a generic URL comprised of your name and different numbers and letters, which in our opinion, isn't very user-friendly.
However, you can customize this URL to make your page easier to recognize and access. We recommend choosing a URL that is professional and simple (your name is always a good idea!).
- Pay Attention to Privacy Settings
While most information on your LinkedIn profile will likely be professional, users still have the option to control their privacy settings. If there are certain details you would rather hide, such as your profile picture or your headline, then you have the option to toggle them on and off.
- Choose the Right Profile Photo
Your profile photo is one of the first things employers will notice when visiting your page, which is why it's important to choose an appropriate image.
We recommend choosing a high-resolution photo of your face that takes up at least 60% of the frame. Try to avoid any action photos or selfies, as these tend to look unprofessional. It's also a good idea to have a simple, non-distracting background.
- Write a Professional Headline
Your LinkedIn headline is a brief description that is shown at the top of your profile page. It also appears next to your name in the search results (choosing strategic keywords also impacts how you appear in search). In addition to your photo, your headline is one of the first things people will see.
While it's certainly acceptable to include your job title in your headline, you can also focus on keywords and hard skills. But if you want to display your certifications, write these after your name and not in your headline.
We advise against fluff words like “rockstar," "ninja," "wizard," or phrases that emphasize how you're seeking new opportunities.
- Perfect Your Profile
LinkedIn gives you 2,000 words to write a summary of your work experience, skills, or anything else you want to highlight in your profile. While it's a good idea to keep things professional, don't be afraid to add a bit of personality to your writing.
Start by writing a small introduction, or what we like to call, the hook. This should be 2-3 sentences that capture the reader's attention. Remember, only the first three lines are visible before the user needs to click to see more.
Now add information about your purpose, skills, experience, and accomplishments. Sprinkle in keywords (we’ll talk more about that a little later) that can help recruiters or employers easily find your profile while searching.
Finally, end your profile with a call to action. Tell the reader why you're on LinkedIn (Coffee chats? New opportunities?) and give them a way to contact you.
- Update Your Experience Section
As the meat of your profile, your experience section should be updated with new jobs, volunteer opportunities, or any work experience you've had in the last 10 to 15 years.
However, don’t just copy and paste this section from your resume. If a recruiter is checking out your profile, they will likely already have your resume on hand. This is your chance to provide additional information that highlights your responsibilities and achievements.
Also, make sure to refer to your roles in the right tense (don't write in present tense if talking about a position you had three years ago), and don't go overboard with the bullet points.
- Ask for LinkedIn Profile Recommendations
Having recommendations on your profile is a good way for recruiters to gain more insight into your work as an employee.
Any LinkedIn contact can write you a recommendation. When you ask someone for a recommendation, don't be afraid to request that they highlight certain skills that might help you in your job search.
As you progress in your career, some of your recommendations may no longer be applicable. In that case, LinkedIn gives you the ability to toggle individual recommendations on and off. You can also ask your connections to revise their recommendation to make it more relevant to your current experience.
Finally, pay back the favor! If a colleague or coworker is generous enough to write you a recommendation, ask them if you can write one for them as well.
- Identify Important Keywords
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile with keywords not only makes it more interesting, but it can increase your visibility amongst recruiters. There are several ways to find core keywords to strengthen your profile.
Your first option is to use LinkedIn’s “build a resume” feature. After entering your job title, LinkedIn will give you a list of recommended keywords that you can add to your profile. As a side note – we don’t recommend using this feature to actually build your resume. That should be customized with your own words and experiences!
You can also use a third-party website to find keywords. Sites like resumeworded.com will give you important keywords to use based on the job description or resume you upload.
We can also recommend wordclouds.com to identify common keywords used in a job description. All you have to do is upload a document or enter a URL, and they will give you a list of keywords in an easy-to-read visual graphic.
- Take Advantage of LinkedIn Features
We also wanted to share a few lesser-known features that can help strengthen your profile.
Open to Work
If you’re actively or passively looking for a new job, then you can take advantage of the “Open to Work” feature. This places a badge on your profile notifying others that you’re open to new opportunities. You can set this to be shown to all LinkedIn members or just to recruiters.
In 2020, LinkedIn partnered with Microsoft to provide free skills training and career resources to help you switch careers or land the job of your dreams. On the site, you’ll be able to find dozens of courses in numerous in-demand fields, like software development, sales, marketing, design, and finance.
In addition to the courses, opportunity.linkedin.com also has a job board where you can find open positions.
LinkedIn Skills Assessment
Show recruiters and connections how adept you are at certain skills by taking LinkedIn Skill Assessments. If you place in the top percentile, you'll be awarded a badge that you can display on your profile. Assessments are offered for technical, business, and design skills.
- Build Your Community on LinkedIn
As we stated earlier, LinkedIn is an excellent resource for networking and connecting with other professionals. Here are a few ways to utilize the social aspect of the site:
- Include a personal note with your connection request. Connections can easily slip through the cracks, but sending a short message opens communication and allows both parties to form a deeper connection.
- Join LinkedIn Groups. Not only will you learn more from others, but it will also allow you to engage in an active discussion in a field that interests you.
- Follow organizations. This allows you to keep up to date with what’s happening in a company.
- Participate! LinkedIn is a welcoming community that thrives on member contributions. Share articles, write your own thoughts and don't be afraid to amplify your own personal achievements on the site.
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