If you don’t have an optimized LinkedIn profile, you’re selling yourself short.
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is essential for building a successful career. LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking site, offers a powerful platform for professionals to connect, network, and showcase their skills and expertise.
However, simply having a LinkedIn profile is not enough. To truly leverage the platform’s potential, it’s important to optimize your LinkedIn profile to stand out in a sea of professionals.
LinkedIn functions as a professional social media platform, but it’s a much stronger tool than that. It’s a digital place to connect with others in your industry, find new opportunities, and most importantly, make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to find you.
If you aren’t currently looking for a new job, it’s still a good idea to optimize your LinkedIn profile occasionally. This will set you up for success later on when you are ready to take on a new role or advance in your industry.
And even you’re not fond of social media in general, having a strong LinkedIn profile should still be a priority. A significant amount of recruiters and hiring managers use the platform to scout new candidates, even if they aren’t actively posting job openings on the platform–so you never know who might come across your profile. To have an optimized LinkedIn profile is to be ready for any opportunity that comes your way (and it doesn’t hurt to have a clean, professionally critiqued resume, either.)
Simply put, if you’re on the job hunt or eager to progress in your career, there are few better advantages you can give yourself than creating and optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
In this article, we’ll explore the key elements of an optimized LinkedIn profile and provide tips and strategies for crafting a profile that highlights your strengths and helps you achieve your professional goals. We’ve included lots links to our extensive library of LinkedIn resources to help you take a deeper dive into any section you need more help with.
Getting started with LinkedIn optimization
It’s important to note that great LinkedIn profiles don’t pop up overnight. While you can (and should) optimize them to the best of your ability, it will take time to develop a quality network and establish your presence.
While you can follow any public profile to stay up on their content, network connections have to be accepted by the other party. So if you’re just getting started, you’ll have to wait for your pending connection requests to be approved, but in the meantime you can make your profile as impressive and searchable as possible.
If you have an established network, consider changing your settings, so your updates aren’t shared to every one of your connections. This will give you a chance to make revisions and changes without flooding others’ feeds and working under a microscope. (If your profile is brand new, and you don’t have any accepted connections yet, you might skip this step.)
And remember: It takes time and energy to optimize your LinkedIn profile. Purchasing a LinkedIn profile writing service can be a worthwhile investment if you want to have a professional help you increase your chances of success on the platform.
Areas to optimize your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to introduce yourself. It’s a quick a snapshot of your professional life – who you are, the values you hold, where you work (and previously worked,) and the skills you bring to the table.
The best way to use this guide to perfect your profile is to go section by section. However, you can also click the links below to navigate directly to the section you’re most interested in.
Keywords are the secret to getting found by recruiters on LinkedIn. These are industry standard words and phrases that recruiters search for and use in job descriptions. You can add these throughout your profile in your Headline, About, Experience, and Skills sections. The more (relevant) keywords you use, the more searches you will show up in, and the greater your chances will be of finding a great new position.
You’ll find keywords by looking at the job description for the specific role you’re applying for or several descriptions of roles you’re interested in. The more specific and targeted you can be, the better.
If you’ve already done this with your resume, you may be able to pull some keywords from there. If you’re not sure if you have enough useful keywords in your resume, find out with a free professional resume critique.
Profile photo & cover image
Your profile picture and cover image are the first things people look at when they open your page. That’s why it’s important to use high-quality images.
Make sure your headshot is clean and professional, as this is your initial impression on a recruiter or hiring manager. It should be from the shoulders up against a neutral background to clearly show your face without blurring or compression.
The cover image can a bit more abstract. You can use it to visually convey your skills and experience, set the tone of your profile, or demonstrate your services and values.
The headline of your profile is your professional self in a nutshell. This is one of the most optimal places to use your keywords, as your headline greatly impacts your LinkedIn visibility.
It should contain your key skills and expertise, including honorifics like MBA, PMP, or MPH. You can also include your current job title if it is relevant to your search, or you work for a notable organization. Otherwise, you can use this space to emphasize your professional interests and job goals.
You should also include anything you want a prospective employer to know about your profile and experience – but be sure to keep it clean, relevant, and effective.
The About section is your place to show more of your personality. It gives you 2,600 characters to stand out among a sea of candidates and leave a lasting impression on a potential employer.
Anything you want a professional in your network to know about you can be added here. It should include insight into who you are as a professional, the biggest accomplishments of your career, your certifications, and your key experience and skills.
This section also gives you the opportunity to emphasize a desire to relocate for a new position, explain confusing parts of your experience (such as career gaps), and dig into your professional values.
Finally, your About section needs to include a call to action with information on how to get in contact with you and learn more. If you’re comfortable with it, you should provide your email address and any notable websites you are a part of, such as your business website or online portfolio.
Your LinkedIn Experience section is one of the most important features of your entire profile, so be sure to spend some time here. You have much more room to get into the details of each position and accomplishments than the resume, so if you had to leave anything off of your professional documents, make sure to include them here. You can also use a more conversational tone, and utilize platform features by including links and images. Make sure to fill out every field, thoroughly describe your roles, and include relevant keywords to help boost your profile.
LinkedIn also has a feature that allows you to explain any career breaks, which can be helpful if you had to stop working for any reason.
Skills and endorsements
LinkedIn allows you to add up to 50 skills to your profile, and it’s worth it to fill the section to the maximum. The more skills (think: keywords) you use, the more likely you are to appear in recruiter search results.
You can add and reorder skills to display the ones you want to show up on your profile first. Your top three skills will show up before one clicks to see the entire list. Make sure that these are the most impactful and relevant for your job search.
You can also assign skills to different jobs you’ve had to give a recruiter an idea of how many years you’ve been actively using that skill. You can also request (and give) endorsements. These are different from recommendations, and can be of significant help to your job search. An endorsement is a vote of confidence on one of your skills from someone in your network. You can request them, but your connections don’t have to wait to be asked to give you an endorsement. These help to boost your credibility and increase your profile visibility by verifying your capabilities.
Your Education section is as important to your LinkedIn profile as it is on your resume. Often, recruiters want to see a college degree in any subject, so include all of your higher education experience here, even if it isn’t relevant to your career goals. Leave high school experience off, however, even if you don’t have any higher education experience.
You can add other sections to your profile, including Professional Affiliations, Certificates and Licenses, Awards, and even Interests.
If there is anything you didn’t have room for on your resume, such as volunteer experience or professional passions less relevant to your targeted job search, you can include them here.
You can also add multimedia content to your profile, such as images, videos, and presentations. Adding additional sections can give you an opportunity to showcase your work in a more visual and interactive way.
Optimize your LinkedIn profile and boost your professional brand
If you really want to build an impressive profile that is easily found by recruiters and industry leaders, take it a step further by engaging in more of what LinkedIn has to offer.
Build your credibility
Like endorsements, recommendations from former colleagues and supervisors give you credibility. Think of them like a quick and simple letter from a reference. Recommendations show your proven track record of excellent performance and positive connections with your coworkers. They can also help you stand out from other professionals who may have similar qualifications or experience. This can be particularly helpful in competitive industries.
Recommendations can show that you are dedicated, collaborative, or wonderful to work with. They’re especially impactful coming from former supervisors, but peer recommendations can show a recruiter how you fit into a company culture. They also help you connect with other professionals in your industry, which can lead to new opportunities or collaborations.
Customize your LinkedIn settings
LinkedIn allows you the option to customize your URL to shorten it from the default series of numbers. This can give you the opportunity to solidify your brand, and makes it fit easily (and memorably!) on your email signature and business cards. Since it is a key point of contact, it makes sense to hand it out with the rest of your information.
If you’re on the job hunt, make sure you set your profile as open to work. This is a quick and easy way to let recruiters on LinkedIn know you’re looking for a new position, and includes you in more filters. It also tells your connections that you job searching, so first consider if you want your current employer or coworkers to know you’re making the change.
Join the conversation
One of the great features of LinkedIn is that is also functions as a social media platform. Once you’ve established a network, you can engage with it by commenting and sharing content that you are interested in.
If you find an existing LinkedIn post interesting or insightful, you can interact with it by liking, commenting, and sharing it with your thoughts. This shows your connections that you are knowledgeable about the industry and active on the platform, and it can also help build your following.
When you join a discussion on LinkedIn, you never know who might see your input and become inspired to follow or connect with you. If you’re making a career switch, this can also help you learn and display interest in your new industry.
If you’re just getting started, one great way to participate is to join groups. You can join groups on just about any topic based on your professional interests to expand your involvement and build more LinkedIn connections.
Become a thought leader
Another way you can increase your LinkedIn presence is to publish articles and posts. This demonstrates thought leadership, and can quickly help you cultivate a following.
LinkedIn gives you the ability to link external articles and create original posts and share them with your network. Much like your About section, this can give you an edge over your competitors by showing your expertise, personality, and values.
You can lead discussions based on your own observations or the ideas proposed in an article you enjoyed. By properly using hashtags, you can even boost your post outside your network to broaden the conversation and increase your network.
LinkedIn optimization takeaways
LinkedIn allows you to apply for and share jobs, connect with other professionals, and boost your professional brand.
A fully optimized LinkedIn profile not only give you a place to show all of your skills, experience, and professional attributes in one place that’s easy for potential employers to find, it allows you to build your brand by sharing thoughts about your industry, projects, and professional passions.
And as a professional bonus, LinkedIn gives you an edge by keeping you informed of industry news and helping you maintain relationships with your network.
Finally, the job search functionality in LinkedIn makes it easy to find great professional opportunities. All professionals need an optimized LinkedIn profile, especially if you are actively searching for work.
The best time to start optimizing your LinkedIn profile is today. It won’t be instant – it takes a while to establish and cultivate a quality network and presence – but we promise the results are worth it. You’ll see major changes in your job search results once you optimize your LinkedIn profile.
If you don’t enjoy setting up social media profiles, or if this all sounds like more than you have time and energy for, consider trying a professional LinkedIn profile writing service. A professional LinkedIn profile writer can take information from your resume and turn it into an optimized profile that will set you up for success.
Follow this advice, and before you know it, you’ll thrive on LinkedIn like never before.
Ready for more job search help?
Sign up for a free Senior Writer Resume Critique to see what’s holding you back from landing interviews. One of our top professional resume writers will give you personalized feedback on the top 3 items you can improve based on our expert practices!