LinkedIn Profile Tips

Updated Nov 3, 2020 22 min

Overview

 🏆 Goal

Build a strong online presence that helps you land top jobs.

📗 When to Read

Right now! It’s essential to have a strong LinkedIn profile even if you’re not actively looking. Colleagues, friends, and potential employers are looking at your page and you want to make a great impression. 

🔑 #1 Tip

Many recruiters in 2020 rely more heavily on Linkedin than they do on resumes. Investing here matters!

⌚ Time Required

Assuming you already have an all-star resume and a headshot, building your LinkedIn should take about one to two hours. If you’re starting from scratch without a resume, plan to spend about 6 hours.

✅ Done When

Your LinkedIn profile is good to go when it tells a complete story about:

  • What you look like (hello, headshots!)

  • Your work experience and accomplishments

  • What you’re passionate about

  • Where you went to school

Quite simply, your LinkedIn page should make the person reading it feel excited to talk with you. 

Understand 

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking site with 650,000,000 users. It helps people make connections, share their experience, and find jobs. 

Your LinkedIn profile is a page you create that summarizes your professional experiences and education. It’s a standardized, online version of your resume. Effectively everyone you interact with professionally will look at your profile at some point. It strongly influences the job opportunities you’re considered for, so it’s highly important to do it right. 🎯

The key components of an effective LinkedIn profile include: 

  • A snapshot of who you are

    • Your headshot

    • A headline 

    • A summary statement

  • Your work experience

    • Companies you’ve worked at

    • Roles you’ve had at each organization

    • Specific responsibilities and accomplishments you’ve had in each role

  • Your education

    • Where you went to undergrad 

    • Any graduate school degrees

  • Any volunteer experience or unique interests

    • Names of organizations you actively volunteer with

    • Organizations you regularly participate in

  • Professional connections

    • At least 500 people you have a professional relationship with 

Recruiters and executives love Linkedin and use it on a day-to-day basis. Putting in the time is worth it because it will speak for you as a first impression hundreds of times during your job search.

Myths about LinkedIn

Before we dive into how to approach each of the components of a LinkedIn profile, let’s debunk a few myths about what LinkedIn is.

❌ You only need an updated LinkedIn profile during a job search. Nope! Anyone in the professional world (hint: you included!) should have an updated LinkedIn. Very strong profiles get people reaching out to them every week about potential next job opportunities!

❌ No one really looks at LinkedIn. This is absolutely false. 87% of recruiters say that they find a candidate’s LinkedIn profile to be the most effective way to vet someone during the hiring process. Recruiters live on Linkedin. 

❌ Accept all connection requests. There are some competing schools of thought here. Some argue that more connections are always better because it improves visibility. Others advise only connecting with people you’ve worked with or went to school with. 

Like most things in life, the color of truth is grey. But after working with thousands of job seekers, and talking to countless recruiters, we’ve found the most successful candidates have 500-2,500 connections who they at least loosely know. Ideally, you have a strong enough connection with someone that you’ll remember them a year down the line.

Connecting with people on Linkedin enables you to identify potential introductions. You should absolutely go through and connect with all:

  • Colleagues and manager (former and current)

  • Friends in your industry

  • People you meet through networking

  • Recruiters and hiring managers when you genuinely hit it off

  • Classmates and professors

  • People you know from sports, clubs, or religious activities in your industry

It’s definitely worth going through everyone you know in your industry and adding them on Linkedin. Connections come in handy once you’re actively on the job hunt!

Your LinkedIn Summary

First impressions impact your likelihood of getting an offer! When someone takes a look at your LinkedIn profile, their first impression will be based on your headshot, headline, and About section. So let’s make sure you make a killer first impression!

To make sure we’re on the same page, here’s the section of the LinkedIn profile we’re focused on here: 

We’ll use our very own Talent Agent, Jeff, as an example so you can see what a world-class profile looks like in real life.

Headshot

The most important thing you should know is that a Linkedin profile with a professional headshot on LinkedIn gets 14x more profile views and 36x more messages. It's the #1 biggest bang-for-your buck improvement you can make to your Linkedin profile.

Having a professional headshot is so important that we created an entire guide on it. You can find that here. (Spoiler alert: you need to have your headshot taken by a professional photographer - you’ll get 14x more profile views if you do!)

We also recommend you upload a background photo in addition to your profile picture. Behind your headshot is a rectangular canvas where you can upload a photo as your banner. This is a different photo than your profile picture. 

Great banner images are colorful, high-resolution, and related to you in some way. You can pull something off the internet or use one of your own quality images. A few ideas include:

  • An image of the skyline of the city you live in

  • A professional image of you speaking to a crowd

  • The logo of the company you work for

  • A gradient that shows your personality

Here’s a few examples of eye catching, impressive cover photos:

A banner image adds visual appeal to your LinkedIn profile, and is a way to stand out from the crowd (in a good way!). 🌟

⚡️ Pro-tip

Make sure your profile photo is publicly visible. Many folks we work with accidentally have their photo set to private. Follow LinkedIn’s guide here

Headline

Right under your name, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to write your headline. A LinkedIn headline is a brief statement that conveys what you are the expert in. It has a maximum character count of 120 characters, including spaces.

Even before someone clicks on your profile, they will see your headline. This means it’s going to get a lot of eyeballs on it, and can be a deciding factor in if someone decides to check out your profile. You want it to clearly convey your expertise (or clearly call out that you’re seeking a new job!).

If you’re job seeking, use this formula for writing your headline:  

{Goal Job Title 1 | Goal Job Title 2}

This maximizes your find-ability for recruiters searching for candidates on Linkedin. That’s because recruiters use Linkedin’s boolean search feature to search for people by keywords. The keywords they most often use are the job titles that they are looking for.

Here are a few examples of headlines for job seekers:

  • Product Marketing Manager  |  Product Manager

  • Marketing  |  Paid Social  |  Growth

If you’re happily employed and not seeking a new role, you can get a little bit more creative with your headline. Spice it up to add more color than just your job title. Tell the person looking at your profile why you are unique (and awesome!), and how you can benefit them. A few examples include:

  • People-Oriented Financial Analyst

  • Collaborative Project Manager

  • Turning Data Into Stories | Marketing Specialist

  • I can show you how to master social media presence no matter what your niche is

This allows you to stand out from the crowd - in a good way! Even though you aren’t actively seeking a new job, it can’t hurt to make an excellent impression on recruiters. You never know, an incredible opportunity might come knocking on your door!

Examples of what not to put

We’ve seen some pretty awful headlines in our time. A few examples of what not to include: 

  • Unemployed (this undervalues you - sell your strengths!)

  • Seeking new job (it’s more effective to highlight your expertise and job titles you’re seeking) 

  • Marketing (this is way too broad - be more specific)

About Statement

The About section of your LinkedIn profile is a high-level summary of your professional experience written as a story. It should be compelling, easy to follow, and engaging.

Think of this section as your pitch statement in writing. We’ve written an entire guide on how to craft your pitch, your introduction to yourself that you’ll use many times during your job search. If you’re not done with that yet, take a pause here and get your pitch down first. Then, come back here to align your pitch content to the Linkedin section. 

A great About section has the following qualities:

  • A clear structure. Start with a strong hook to grab the reader’s attention, then share the most important themes of your professional career. End with a call to action.

  • A hook. Your goal at the beginning is to get the reader to want to learn more about you. Starting with a question, interesting fact, or bold statement.

  • Conveys your mission. The reader should be able to glean the “why” behind what you do. This is where your storytelling skills come into play!

  • Includes your industry expertise. Take 2-3 sentences to describe your qualifications - convince the reader you’re the expert at what you do. 

  • Identifies what you specialize in. Include a statement that highlights your unique value-adds, and what your skills are.

  • Is supported by data. Adding quantitative data makes a story more powerful. Back up at least 1-2 accomplishments with the quantifiable impacts.

  • Provides your contact information. If you’re currently seeking a new opportunity, it can be helpful to include your email address. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to reach out to you. 

Here’s an example of a strong About section from none other than the Co-Founder of Placement, Katie Kent:

Placement is Everyone's Talent Agent. Our customers land great via modern technology and human support. Learn more at www.placement.com

Hello! 👋

I'm Katie Kent, Co-Founder of Placement. I've worked with 300+ candidates now employed at Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Tesla, the Fortune 1000, and all manner of SMBs.

Previously, I led product at Flexport for the company's most profitable business unit. We delivered industry-changing user experiences with people + technology.

An early leader in tech bootcamps, I launched America's first data science bootcamp in 2013. I grew the business from an idea in a coffee shop, to acquisition by Galvanize, to 1000s of customers. The program was a category creator in alternative education that continues to inspire Fortune 500s and startups alike.

I'm always interested to hear about high-potential people we might work with: http://placement.com/nominate

Thanks,

Katie

twitter.com/k80kent 

Let’s break down what Katie did really well here:

  • Uses a friendly, personable writing style

  • Writes in the first person

  • Clearly conveys her achievements and background

  • Ties her career up into the key theme of being passionate about creating opportunity for people, which tells a captivating story

  • Links to her Twitter account, which she uses for professional purposes 

  • Keeps it short and sweet - your About section should not exceed more than a few short paragraphs

Would a template be helpful here? We thought so! Here’s a template you can use:

{Goal Job Title} with {X} years of experience {description of Goal Job Title}. Expertise in {selling point 1} and {selling point 2}.

Currently, I am a {Current Job Title} working {description of Current Job}. In this role, I {your claim to fame at this company}. I also {another key impact you made}.

Before, I was a {Former Job Title} at {Former Employer}, {description f Previous Job}. There, I {your claim to fame at that company}.

Feel free to contact me about new opportunities. My email address is {{email at gmail dot com}.

Have more to say but can’t squeeze it in? You can supplement the written description in your About section with links to content that provides additional perspective on who you are and what you do. Include links to a blog post, project, or personal website so people can engage with your actual work product directly. There, you’ll have as much space to write as you need!

URL

Another best practice for your settings is to change your LinkedIn URL to only include your name in it. 

LinkedIn automatically assigns you a URL when you create a profile, and it’s usually a long, wordy, messy URL.

Make it easy for someone to search for you by tightening it up to be www.linkedin.com/yourname. Here’s a guide on how to do just that!

Contact Info

Including your contact information on your LinkedIn profile allows people to get in touch with you more easily. You want to reduce as many barriers as possible for people to reach out to you about exciting opportunities, we recommend adding your email address to the “Contact Info” button (which is right below your headshot and headline).

Work Experience

The meat of your LinkedIn profile, especially when you’ve been in the workforce for several years, is the work experience section.

This is where you list all of the companies you’ve worked for (full-time or part-time), the job titles you’ve had, and the accomplishments you’re most proud of in each role. Your work experience is listed in reverse chronological order.

If brainstorming out and listing all of your work experiences is sounding like deja vu, don’t worry, you’re not going crazy! This is exactly what you compiled when you designed your resume. And if you haven’t designed your resume, check out our Resume Guide. This is the best place to start when thinking through the experiences you want to highlight! We show exactly what you need to do to make recruiters swoon after seeing your resume.

The difference between the work experience on your resume and the work experience on your LinkedIn profile is that your LinkedIn profile can be more comprehensive. Resumes are meant to be about one-page long, so you have to be judicious about what’s included. Your LinkedIn profile can include a longer timeline of your career, if applicable. Linkedin’s algorithms prioritize showing people with lots of rich content and keywords. The more you add, the higher you’ll rank in the search results of recruiters. That means you’ll get more recruiters reaching out to you. 💥

Since your resume and LinkedIn are very similar, it’s important to double (maybe even triple!) check to make sure roles, titles, and timelines match up. It’s a red flag 🚩 when a candidate’s resume says one thing and their LinkedIn says something else. 

Again, it's OK to have experiences on Linkedin that aren't mentioned on your resume if they are relevant and additive. Just make sure that you are telling the same story. 

Populating your LinkedIn profile is easy when your resume is complete because you can copy and paste the bullet points from your resume onto your Linkedin. To make your work experience section skimmable and easy to follow, be sure to also copy and paste a bullet point character at the beginning of each bullet. It's OK to have more bullets on Linkedin than will fit on a resume. The more keyword-rich content you have on Linkedin, the more likely your profile will pop up when recruiters search for people with particular skills.

So, just like your resume, your Work Experience section of your LinkedIn profile should have:

  • The name of the company you worked at

  • The job titles you had at that company

  • Descriptive bullet points for each job title

  • Timeline (month, year - month, year) for each job title

  • It should specify “Contract” as the job type for anything that was a contract

A quick note on listing the name of the companies you worked at: When entering in the name of the company, select from the drop down the LinkedIn profile name so the company logo automatically populates on your profile. Just about every single company has a corporate LinkedIn page. This also allows someone viewing your profile to click on the company name and learn more about what they do. 

Now, if you’re wondering, “what about all of the skills I listed out on my resume? Where do those go?” we’ve got you covered. Those actually go in the Skills section of your LinkedIn profile. Don’t list out your skills in the work experience section. Including a range of relevant skills improves your chances of getting found by recruiters by 27x. Yes, you read that number right!

With that being said, don’t waste someone’s attention span by having a long list of skills that don’t apply to the roles you’re interested in. It's great to have more skills on your Linkedin than you have space for on your resume, but all skills still need to be relevant.

Education

Entering your education is one of the easiest steps to completing your LinkedIn profile. We like easy!

Always include your undergraduate university and any graduate schools you attended in this section. You’ll also want to include the specific degrees you earned. Similar to adding the companies you’ve worked for, be sure to select the university’s LinkedIn page when adding your school so the logo automatically appears. 

You really shouldn’t include high school on your LinkedIn profile. The only exception is if you don’t have a college degree. 

Another thing you can leave off your LinkedIn is your GPA. As a general rule, unless your GPA is a 3.8 or higher, don’t include it. Also, if you’ve been out of school for more than about five years, you can take it off. Why? Because by that point your work experience will speak more to your accomplishments and strengths than a GPA can. 

If you participated in any extracurricular organizations during school, it’s great to include those in the description of your education. This gives the reader some context for who you are and how you like to spend your time. A few examples of what you can include are:

  • Captain of the ultimate frisbee team

  • Recipient of full-ride scholarship through the Frances Silverman Grant

  • Membership coordinator for Phi Mu Sorority

  • Business school ambassador

Notice that these examples are relatively unique, and all are professional. No need to mention participating in a dance marathon for a year - that’s just not important or unique.

Volunteer Experience (optional)

There is a section of LinkedIn dedicated to volunteer experience. This section is right below your Education and just above your Skills. Only populate this section if you have meaningful volunteer experience that is either long-term or you have a leadership role in. 

An example of a good volunteer experience to include is being on the executive committee of a non-profit, assuming that required at least 5-10 hours of work a week.

An example of a volunteer experience that doesn’t warrant going on your LinkedIn is serving food at a homeless shelter once a year. As valued as this work is, it  just isn’t substantive enough to be highlighted on your professional profile. 

Above and Beyond

For all of you overachievers out there (and if you’re reading this guide, we’re guessing you’re one of them!) you’re probably wondering how you can take your LinkedIn profile to the next level. We’re talking total LinkedIn rockstar status here. 🕺🏾

We’ve got three ways you can go above and beyond.

Ask for recommendations. At the bottom of someone’s LinkedIn profile, you will often see recommendations that speak to the value that person brought to a project or team. These recommendations are typically written by colleagues, clients, or managers and are glowing reviews of how great the person is. It’s not essential that you have recommendations, but they do provide additional context for how you work with others and deliver results. Reach out to 1-2 of your job champions and ask them to write you a recommendation.Note that this is only worthwhile and helpful if the recommendations are really, really strong.

Post content. You’ll be considered for more opportunities if you’ve stayed top of mind with your connections. One way to get your name in their heads is by regularly posting interesting content on LinkedIn. Share articles from news sources, write articles of your own, or post your perspective on relevant topics in your industry. Only 1% of LinkedIn users post content, which means when you do post it’s going to be seen! Be thoughtful with what you post, and speak to what you know. There’s a lot of upside to posting quality content, but there is potential downside to posting unprofessional or irrelevant content.

Show your interests. Following people and topics that are relevant to your role can help showcase a bit of personality. Consider following companies you admire, thought leaders you respect, and organizations that you’d love to work at.

Strengthening Your Connections 

LinkedIn is a powerful platform for making new connections and staying in touch with your existing network. There’s a few ways to interact with people on LinkedIn, and each method has a specific purpose. Let’s break it down:

  • Connection Request: Send a connection request to connect with someone you know (e.g., work with, went to school together, or met at a recent event). Always include a personalized note in the request explaining why you’re connecting or simply just wishing them well. Don’t use connection requests for people you’d like to meet (that’s where InMail is best!).

  • InMail: An InMail is a long-form message that gets sent directly to the recipient’s email inbox. This is best used when you need to get in touch with someone you don’t know and don’t have their email address. An example use case is you are reaching out to a recruiter at a company you’re interested in, and are requesting a 15-minute phone call.

  • Message: You have the ability to send messages to anyone you are connected with on LinkedIn. This option becomes available after the other person has accepted your connection request (or after you’ve accepted their request). Use this to communicate with people in your network. 

  • Comment: When you see a post or article on your news feed from someone you’re connected with, writing a comment helps to strengthen your relationship. This is also a great way to stay top of mind. Your comment can be something short and sweet like “Great insights!” or you can share your perspective on what they posted. You might say, “This article brings up an interesting point. I’ve always kept my email notifications open but am going to try turning them off when I need to focus. Thanks for sharing!” Keep in mind that everyone in your network can see what you comment, so keep it professional.

We’ll dive into more detail on how to leverage the power of LinkedIn to build and strengthen your professional networking in our upcoming Networking Guide. Stay tuned!

Iterate and Adjust

Your LinkedIn profile, much like your resume, should evolve over time as you narrow down your interests, target new roles, and gain more experiences. 

Gather Feedback

Whenever you update your LinkedIn (and especially when you create your profile for the first time!), get feedback from someone on how they perceive you by looking at your LinkedIn.

Find someone who is invested in your success and who can also be really honest with you. Hearing all nice things from someone who loves you might feel good but it won’t help you tweak your profile to be exceptional. Consider reaching out to a friend, mentor, or colleague and ask them to respond to the following questions:

  • What is your initial takeaway after spending 5-10 seconds looking at my profile?

  • What jumps out at you?

  • What is your understanding of my skillset after reviewing my profile?

  • Do you understand the types of opportunities I’m interested in?

  • Do you have a good sense of the value I’ve added in my various work experiences?

  • What is one change I can make to enhance my profile?

This insight is incredibly valuable and will help you continuously improve your LinkedIn.

Check Out Similar Profiles

An effective way to evaluate if your profile positions you well for the roles you’re interested in is to look at the profiles of people who currently have the roles you’re targeting.

Search LinkedIn for the job titles that interest you or the companies you’re most interested in. Then, compare your profile to those of people who have the jobs you want.

This will give you a good idea of the attributes and experiences the hiring managers are looking for. Adjust your profile to incorporate similar language or interests while still being true to your own work experience.

Put Yourself Out There

Once you get your LinkedIn profile up and running, it’s time to make sure you have the appropriate settings in place. Boring topic? Maybe. Important topic? For sure.

Let Recruiters Know You’re Open to Opportunities

One of the great features of LinkedIn is that you can notify recruiters that you’re looking for a new job without your current employer being able to see. 

To do this, click “Data and Privacy” from the drop down on your homepage (right below your profile picture in the top banner) and then go to the “Data Privacy” section. Turn on “Signal Your Interest to Recruiters at Companies You’ve Created Job Alerts For.”

If you’re job seeking, there’s really no downside to turning this on. 

Make it Public

Let’s start with the basics. The purpose of your LinkedIn profile is for people to be able to find you and understand the type of work you excel at. So, unlike other social media platforms, you want to make your profile as public as possible. 

Even if you aren’t connected with someone, they should be able to see your full profile - especially your headshot. There’s of course risk associated with making any of your data public on the internet, but in general for LinkedIn the risk is worth it. 

Ask a friend you’re not connected with to show you what your profile looks like to them. (And then after, connect with them!)

Keep the Focus On You

A pro tip that most people don’t know about is to deactivate the automatic setting of LinkedIn recommending people similar to you when someone views your profile. The default is for the profiles of these other people to fill the right panel of your profile. This isn’t ideal, especially if you’re looking for a job, because you want the recruiter to be focused on you versus your competition. 

This is what appears on your profile if you don’t change the setting:

To change this setting, follow these steps:

  1. Under Account, select Settings and Privacy

  2. Under the Site Preferences section, click on Viewers of this Profile Also Viewed

  3. Change this setting to No

Voila!