When it comes to essential tools for job seekers, you might think of your resume and your network. However, there’s another platform that combines the power of both: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn enables you to showcase your experience, skills, and qualifications to potential employers while also providing a space to grow your professional network and personal brand.
In fact, for job seekers, LinkedIn can be just as vital as a well-crafted resume. When you’re in search of a new job, LinkedIn is the place where you should be spending most of your time.
While a resume has limited space for information, LinkedIn offers much more flexibility. Even if you’re not actively seeking a new role, the majority of recruiters utilize LinkedIn as a sourcing tool to discover candidates for job openings.
By keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date, you increase the chances of attracting exciting job opportunities without actively searching for them. Moreover, a current LinkedIn profile can also help potential clients and other professionals find you for various professional opportunities.
To help job seekers make the most of LinkedIn, we’ve compiled 31 expert-backed tips. These tips range from creating a profile that grabs the attention of recruiters and aids you in landing your next job to establishing yourself as an industry expert in your field.
But before we delve into the tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile, let’s first understand why it matters.
Why should you optimize your LinkedIn profile?
Understanding the significance of having an optimized LinkedIn profile is crucial. Here are the reasons why you should care about having a clean and well-thought-out profile:
- Helps recruiters understand your openness to work and your expertise, which can lead them to reach out to you directly for job opportunities.
- Makes you stand out when you apply for a job on LinkedIn.
- Boosts your personal brand and can help you become an influencer.
- Assists in building relationships with prospects and closing deals through social selling.
- Establishes relationships with customers and creates trust.
Whether you are looking for a job, participating in your company’s employee advocacy program, or aiming to be an influencer, your LinkedIn profile is key to your success.
Not everyone wants to be the next professional influencer or build a massive personal brand, but everyone should consider creating an optimized LinkedIn profile.
Now that you understand the importance of having a clean and well-thought-out LinkedIn profile, let’s dive into how you can optimize it for maximum impact.
General Tips for Your LinkedIn Profile
To enhance your LinkedIn profile and make a strong impression, consider these general tips that apply to all LinkedIn users.
1. Use Your LinkedIn to Tell a Story and Build Your Personal Brand
As you construct your LinkedIn profile, it’s important to cultivate your personal brand. Take some time to reflect on who you are and what you want to be recognized for. Consider what distinguishes you from others in your industry. Once you have a clear understanding of your personal brand, you can effectively showcase it throughout your LinkedIn profile.
2. Know Your Audience—and What Keywords Will Get Their Attention
When creating your profile, it’s important to consider your audience: other professionals and recruiters within your industry. What are the key qualities, experiences, or technical skills that they would be interested in seeing in a potential job candidate?
To find answers to these questions, adopt a process similar to the one you would use when writing or tailoring your resume. Begin by reviewing several job descriptions for the type of position you currently have or aspire to. Take note of recurring themes, topics that consistently matter to employers.
If you’re having trouble identifying the right keywords, try seeking inspiration from professionals who currently hold the positions you desire. Take a look at their profiles and observe the skills and experiences they emphasize. This can provide valuable insights to enhance your own profile.
3. Work Keywords Throughout Your Profile
Once you have identified your keywords, it’s essential to incorporate them seamlessly into various sections of your profile, such as the headline, summary, experience, and skills. However, it’s important to avoid overdoing it.
Your keywords should naturally integrate with the overall flow of your writing, rather than feeling forced or crammed in. Avoid the temptation of simply listing your keywords without any context by writing something like “Keywords:” in your “About” section. Remember, context and readability are key to presenting a well-crafted profile.
4. But Avoid Buzzwords
Buzzwords are ubiquitous on platforms like LinkedIn and job descriptions, but they often lack substance when it comes to describing an individual. Terms like “innovative,” “driven,” “hardworking,” “effective,” “successful,” and “motivated” may not hold much meaning on their own, or they may simply state the obvious. After all, it’s unlikely that anyone would openly admit on LinkedIn that they’re not hardworking.
To assess the relevance of a potential keyword or phrase, consider whether it requires additional context to be meaningful. If someone approached you claiming to be “effective” or “innovative,” you’d likely respond with questions like “At what?” or “Can you prove it?” While it’s okay to use buzzwords alongside more specific keywords when appropriate, it’s far more impactful to demonstrate these qualities through tangible examples. Which of the following options sounds more compelling? “Successful and hardworking,” “Successful and hardworking SaaS fintech account executive,” or “SaaS account executive who has generated over $10 million in new business for various fintech startups”? By showcasing your achievements and specific contributions, you convey a stronger message about your capabilities.
5. Complete Your Profile
Having a complete profile on LinkedIn carries significant advantages. The platform’s algorithm rewards users with comprehensive profiles, increasing the likelihood of appearing in search results. LinkedIn assigns different strengths to profiles based on their completeness, with the highest level being “All-Star.”
Regardless of whether you apply for jobs on LinkedIn or elsewhere, recruiters and hiring managers will undoubtedly review your profile. A barebones profile fails to make a positive impression.
Moreover, each section of your profile presents an opportunity to incorporate more keywords and construct a compelling narrative. When you’re actively seeking employment, it’s essential not to overlook such valuable opportunities.
6. But Focus on the Top Sections
Recruiters and professionals are often pressed for time, making it crucial to capture their attention quickly. While a comprehensive profile offers technical advantages, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to read every word on your page.
To engage them effectively, highlight your most significant skills, experiences, and qualities upfront. This entails optimizing your cover photo, profile picture, headline, summary, and recent experience.
Your profile picture and headline hold the most importance as they are the first elements people encounter before clicking on your profile.
Therefore, don’t wait until the “Accomplishments” or “Licenses & certifications” sections to mention noteworthy achievements or vital certifications. Incorporate them into one of the prominent sections at the top of your profile.
Similarly, ensure that your most valuable keywords don’t get buried in the “Skills & Endorsements” section. Highlight them where they will receive the maximum visibility and impact.
Tips for Individual LinkedIn Profile Sections
Optimize each section of your LinkedIn profile to showcase your skills, experiences, and accomplishments effectively, and ensure your key information is prominently displayed. Tailor your profile to grab attention and make a strong impression on recruiters and professionals.
7. Get a Custom URL
When you set up your LinkedIn profile, you’re initially assigned a URL with a string of numbers. However, it’s highly recommended to customize your URL for better usability and shareability.
Your customized URL should be easy to remember and share since you’ll be promoting it frequently. Most individuals opt to include their name and initials in some format, although if you have a common name, you may need to be creative or incorporate numbers.
You can also optimize your profile further by adding important certifications like CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or PMP (Project Management Professional) to your URL.
8. Add a Cover Photo That Reflects You
The empty space above your profile picture is dedicated to your cover photo, serving as the very first visual impression on your page. It’s essential to make a positive impact with it.
At the very least, choose an image that is inoffensive and holds personal significance to you, such as a scenic view of your favorite place or something that reflects your brand.
However, you can also consider using a photo of yourself engaged in your work or customize the banner with text.
You can include your personal website URL, highlight key strengths, list services you offer, or even feature a meaningful quote. Remember to maintain a professional tone throughout.
If you need assistance designing a cover photo, Canva provides free and customizable LinkedIn banner templates. Additionally, you can explore free stock photos on Unsplash to use as a background or opt for an easier solution to eliminate the plain gray box at the top of your page.
9. Choose a Professional Profile Picture—or Take a New One
Gone are the days of requiring a professional headshot for your profile picture. The high-resolution cameras on iPhones and Android devices now offer sufficient quality for clear and sharp images.
However, while a professional photographer may not be necessary, it’s still essential to maintain a professional appearance in your picture. Avoid using images taken at parties or weddings, and ensure that you don’t need to crop out other individuals.
If you need a new picture, stand in front of a blank wall and take a photo. Remember to smile and position yourself facing a natural light source, such as a window.
It’s crucial to look directly at the camera because, if your eyes are not visible, it becomes difficult to establish a genuine connection beyond the screen. Lastly, LinkedIn recommends that your face should occupy approximately 60% of the cropped image.
10. Write a Headline That Rocks
Your headline should go beyond simply stating your job title. Instead, utilize this space to effectively convey the essence of your professional identity in a concise manner, whether through a sentence or a few phrases.
It’s crucial to be specific about the unique qualities that distinguish you from others in your field. Highlighting specific skills you want to be recognized for. Crafting a headline that encompasses your professional career identity and reflects your aspirations for the future.
11. Include a Current Job Entry, Even When Unemployed
Recruiters rely on your current position as a key factor when searching for candidates on LinkedIn. Consequently, if you’re currently unemployed, it’s important to include the position or positions you are seeking (e.g., Social Media Coordinator/Assistant) on your profile.
However, make sure to add a line in the usual spot for the company name that clearly indicates you are not currently employed, such as “Seeking new opportunity” or a similar statement. This will prevent any confusion regarding your employment status.
12. Complete Your Intro
Ensure to complete the smaller sections of your profile intro for better visibility and engagement. These sections include:
- Former name: If you’re comfortable with it, use this section to make yourself searchable by names you no longer use, such as a maiden name. You can also control who can see your past names.
- Name pronunciation: LinkedIn introduced this feature on its mobile app. Consider using it if you have a long, uncommon, or difficult-to-pronounce name.
- Location: When given the option, it’s recommended to mention a metropolitan area instead of a suburb or smaller city. This increases your chances of appearing in more searches. If you’re planning to relocate, you can list your target city and elaborate in your summary.
- Industry: You can choose only one industry, so if you haven’t narrowed down your search to a specific one, you can discuss additional industries in your summary.
- Contact info: Be sure to include your email address so that recruiters can easily reach you. However, phone numbers and addresses are more common for service providers on LinkedIn rather than individual job seekers. It’s advisable not to include a personal cell phone number. When adding social media platforms, ensure they are professional and relevant to your job before including them.
13. Use Your Summary Wisely
Your summary or “About” section on LinkedIn is an excellent opportunity to showcase your personality and share your unique story. The best part is, it doesn’t have to be complicated at all.
Consider structuring your summary in the following manner:
- Introduction: Begin by introducing yourself as a professional and defining your role. Clearly communicate the value you bring to the organizations you work for.
- Key Skills and Achievements: Highlight your most important skills, experiences, and noteworthy achievements. You can present them in either paragraph form or as a bulleted list for easy readability.
- Personal Interests: While optional, it can be beneficial to discuss your interests outside of work. You never know which hobbies or passions might resonate with a recruiter, potential employer, or professional connection.
- Call to Action: Engage the reader by prompting them to take action. For example, you could invite them to connect with you for discussions on growth marketing, to reach out regarding job or speaking opportunities, or any other specific goals you have in mind for your LinkedIn profile.
Even with this suggested structure, there are endless ways to craft your summary. The “About” section is deeply personal. Write in the first person and fearlessly express what truly matters to you in your career.
14. Show Off Your Expertise or Best Work in the Features Section
Right below your “About” section, you’ll find the “Featured” section on your LinkedIn profile. This section offers a fantastic opportunity to highlight your media, links, LinkedIn articles, and posts right at the top of your profile.
Sharing work or mentions that are highly relevant to your personal brand and LinkedIn objectives allows you to demonstrate your skills in action.
If you have an online portfolio, the “Featured” section serves as an excellent and prominently visible space to link to it. Take advantage of this section to showcase your best work and make a strong impression on visitors to your profile.
15. Tailor Your Experience
It’s important to customize your LinkedIn profile based on the industry you currently work in or aspire to work in, as well as the specific role you hold or aim to secure. While your resume should be tailored to each job application, your LinkedIn profile should reflect your professional goals and industry focus.
When describing your past experiences, make sure to highlight the aspects that are most pertinent to the types of jobs you are interested in. Additionally, incorporating relevant volunteer work or school projects within both the experience section and the dedicated sections for “Volunteer Experience” and “Education” on your profile.
By aligning your profile with your desired industry and role, you can effectively showcase your qualifications and attract opportunities that are in line with your career objectives.
16. Use Strong Accomplishment-Driven Descriptions
When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, think of it as more than just a resume. Instead of simply listing job duties under each experience entry, focus on highlighting your achievements.
Use bullet points to not only describe what you did in your past roles, but also how you did it, the outcomes you achieved, and how it positively impacted your team or company.
Whenever possible, incorporate relevant keywords to showcase the essential skills you utilized and when. Additionally, quantify your experiences and accomplishments.
Numbers provide recruiters with a clearer understanding of the scale of your work and make your achievements more tangible.
Who is more exciting? Someone who says they are proficient in Excel or Someone who says they have built Excel spreadsheets that employ pivot tables and filters, streamlining processes and saving the company over 20 hours per month?
17. Add Links and Media to Your Work Experience
Incorporating various media elements can greatly enhance your “Experience” and “Featured” sections on LinkedIn. Take advantage of this feature by adding links, images, videos, and files.
It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase your work visually and provide recruiters with firsthand access to the projects, company websites, articles, reports, or any other relevant content you mention in your profile.
By including these media elements, you allow recruiters to see the actual work you’re discussing, adding credibility and depth to your profile.
18. Make Sure Your Resume and LinkedIn Match
While your resume and LinkedIn profile can have some differences, it’s crucial to ensure consistency in terms of past positions, companies, degrees, licenses, certifications, and dates.
It’s essential to avoid contradicting yourself as you don’t want hiring managers to perceive you as dishonest. Maintaining alignment between these key details across both platforms is important for establishing credibility and trustworthiness.
19. Add Licenses, Certifications, Projects, Volunteer Experiences, Accomplishments, or Languages
Beyond your work experience and education sections, there are additional opportunities to highlight your background and qualifications on LinkedIn.
Do you possess fluency in another language? Have you received prestigious awards or contributed articles to renowned industry publications? Are you licensed to practice in multiple states?
Including such details in your profile not only showcases your uniqueness but also allows you to incorporate additional keywords.
However, it’s important to remember that if these skills and experiences hold significant value in securing your next job, try to incorporate them into an earlier section as well. By doing so, you ensure their visibility and relevance to potential employers.
20. Add Your Skills—Everywhere
Make sure to highlight your skills throughout your entire LinkedIn profile, not just in the designated “Skills & Endorsements” section. As mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to provide context for your skills within your experience section.
However, it’s equally important to feature your most relevant and marketable skills in your summary and headline as well. You can even leverage your skills in your recommendations from others (more details on that below).
In the “Skills & Endorsements” section itself, you have the option to list up to 50 skills. However, keep in mind that profile viewers can only see your top three skills initially.
Therefore, carefully choose the most important skills to showcase in these slots. Additionally, you can invite people from your network to endorse your abilities, adding further credibility to your profile.
21. Seek Out Strong, Relevant, and Recent Recommendations
Recommendations play a vital role in establishing your professional credibility. You can request recommendations from individuals you have closely collaborated with, but it’s important to provide them with talking points that align with the story you wish to convey through your profile.
Ensure that your recommender understands your career goals and the specific skills and experiences you would like them to highlight. Additionally, it’s crucial to keep your recommendations up to date.
Setting a calendar reminder to seek new recommendations at least twice a year, ensuring that your profile reflects your most recent accomplishments and endorsements.
22. And Give Them in Return
The most effective way to receive a recommendation is by offering one yourself. By writing a recommendation for a colleague, you increase the likelihood of them reciprocating the gesture.
Moreover, it’s a valuable practice to support and assist the individuals in your network. By actively engaging in giving recommendations, you foster a collaborative and supportive environment that encourages professional growth and strengthens your relationships.
23. Don’t Forget About Your “Interests” Section
Despite being frequently overlooked, the “Interests” section located at the bottom of your LinkedIn profile holds a valuable secret. It serves as a gateway to curating engaging and shareable content for your LinkedIn feed.
By specifying your interests in this section, LinkedIn will present you with posts and updates related to those topics. You can then actively participate by sharing, commenting, and even utilizing these posts to discover and connect with other professionals in your field.
Don’t underestimate the power of the “Interests” section—it can serve as a catalyst for building meaningful connections and accessing interesting content within your LinkedIn network.
Tips for Using Your Profile
When it comes to utilizing your profile effectively, be sure to showcase your unique strengths and skills to make a lasting impression. Craft a compelling summary and highlight your achievements to attract potential connections and opportunities.
24. Be Mindful of Your Profile Settings
If you’re currently in the process of job hunting, you have the option to customize your profile settings to indicate to recruiters that you are open to new opportunities.
Moreover, if you wish to keep this information confidential from your current employer, you can fine-tune your settings to ensure that it remains hidden from anyone within the same company.
Additionally, you have the ability to manage the visibility of your updates, giving you full control over who can see them, as suggested by Hallow.
25. Link to Your LinkedIn on Your Resume
Once you’ve dedicated your efforts to crafting an impressive LinkedIn Profile, it’s crucial not to overlook the importance of directing people to it. One effective way to do this is by including the URL of your LinkedIn profile directly on your resume.
By hyperlinking it, individuals who are reading your resume on a computer can conveniently access your profile and discover more about why you are an exceptional candidate.
26. Become an Active User
Once you’ve completed your profile, it’s important not to neglect LinkedIn until the next job application comes around. Being an active user is paramount for achieving greater success on the platform.
By actively commenting on posts, engaging with other users, and creating content on LinkedIn, we experienced a remarkable surge in our followers and connections by 600%, along with a staggering 1,000% increase in profile views within a year.
Actively utilizing LinkedIn allows you to expand your network, enhance your visibility among existing connections, and gain valuable insights about your profession, industry, and potential prospects.
27. Request Connections (and Do It Thoughtfully)
LinkedIn holds a special place as the ultimate networking platform. It not only allows you to connect with people you already know but also enables you to reach out to individuals who can potentially contribute to your professional growth.
Utilizing LinkedIn’s alumni tool, located in the “Alumni” tab on your school’s profile, can help you locate professionals who attended the same college as you.
Additionally, you can connect with individuals employed in companies or roles that pique your interest. Leveraging the search bar and entering keywords like “product marketer” or even “introvert” to find relevant connections.
Regardless of whom you’re requesting to connect with, personalization is the key. Take the time to carefully review their profile and craft a tailored message, clearly expressing what you hope to gain from the connection.
It’s crucial to be considerate and understand that not everyone may accept your connection request, and it’s essential not to take such rejections personally.
Once you’ve made a connection, the conversation can continue. Consider initiating an informational interview to delve deeper into someone’s role or the company they work for, or discuss the latest advancements in your field.
By engaging with each other’s posts and updates, you will also begin to appear in each other’s feeds, providing opportunities to comment and further strengthen your professional relationship.
28. Don’t Just Network—Use LinkedIn to Learn and Grow
While LinkedIn is commonly known as a networking platform, it also serves as a valuable resource for knowledge sharing. Users frequently share their insights and learnings through posts, fostering discussions among professionals.
When it comes to staying updated with the latest developments in your field, LinkedIn offers a more interactive experience compared to simply relying on Google searches.
By actively participating in discussions, you can gain diverse perspectives and contribute your own thoughts. An excellent feature on LinkedIn is LinkedIn Learning, which allows you to acquire new skills and competencies.
The completed courses can be directly added to your profile, showcasing your continuous learning journey. Exploring the profiles of individuals holding job positions or working in industries that align with your interests can provide valuable guidance on selecting relevant courses.
By examining their skills and experiences, you can gain insights and discover the specific courses that would benefit you or gain inspiration for your learning path.
29. Start Posting
LinkedIn offers all its users the opportunity to create posts and articles directly on the platform. These posts play a significant role in establishing your reputation as an expert in your field.
You can share your perspectives on industry trends, provide insights into recent developments, and even showcase your writing skills. Additionally, you have the option to share relevant articles that you’ve come across elsewhere online.
It’s important to note that regardless of being a new professional or new to your field, you have valuable contributions to offer, and other users will take notice. If you’re not yet ready to create your own posts, you can begin by engaging through comments.
Start by selecting relevant interests on your profile and following experts, thought leaders, and professionals in your field who possess careers you aspire to learn from.
By actively engaging with their posts on your news feed, you’ll not only acquire knowledge but also expand your network. This interaction can provide you with “food for thought” for your own future posts, sparking ideas and insights along the way.
30. Join LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups present an incredible opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals in your specific job or industry.
By joining these groups, you can actively participate in discussions centered around relevant topics, allowing you to deepen your engagement within your field.
Moreover, the other members of these groups serve as a vast pool of potential connections, expanding your professional network and fostering valuable relationships.
31. Don’t Only Pay Attention When You’re Job Searching
LinkedIn offers numerous benefits for individuals who are not actively seeking job transitions. These advantages range from fostering connections within your industry to acquiring new skills that enhance your current role.
It’s important to note that maintaining an active presence on LinkedIn even after securing a new position makes your future job searches much smoother.
By actively building your network and cultivating your personal brand beforehand, you are better prepared to leverage these resources when the time comes to pursue your next career opportunity.
Additionally, by staying engaged, you remain at the forefront of the minds of individuals within your network. When the moment arrives to embark on your search for the ideal role, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of people invested in supporting your journey.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. By implementing these ideas and gradually building upon them, you’ll be able to make significant progress even with just a few minutes during your lunch break or in the evenings.
As you fully leverage the potential of your LinkedIn profile, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the positive impact it can have on both you and your business. Let’s make 2023 the year of transformation!