By DeVry University
February 15, 2023
13 min read
Whether you’re looking for your first job or preparing to make a career move in today’s digitally-driven world, understanding some essential LinkedIn profile tips can help you stand out from the virtual crowd.
Developed by Microsoft in 2003, LinkedIn has become an important tool for jobseekers, business consultants, small business owners and others looking to build a network of quality professional connections and establish their personal brands. And it boasts some pretty impressive statistics – like being available in 26 languages and hosting more than 875 million members in 200 countries.
Developing a strong LinkedIn profile may help you get discovered by hiring managers looking for people with your unique skillset. To help you put your best foot forward, we’ve compiled 25 tips for LinkedIn profile building that you can implement today.
1. Customize Your URL
When you create a LinkedIn profile, you’ll automatically be assigned a generic URL. To create a more resume-friendly link that’s easier to remember and share, consider customizing your URL. Using a combination of your first and last name is a great place to start.
2. Fill Out as Much of Your Profile as You Can
One of the more important tips for LinkedIn profile building is to fill in your profile so you can show off your professional accomplishments and give potential employers, recruiters and hiring managers as much detail about yourself and your qualifications as you can.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as one of the pillars of your personal brand. Neglecting to fully flesh out your profile’s elements will leave big parts of your story untold. You may have come across LinkedIn profiles that are incomplete or sparsely filled out. If you’re just beginning your professional career, that’s okay. As you gain more experience, you’ll be able to build out your profile as you go.
Start by adding as much content as you can about your education, skills, volunteer experience and causes, so you can show potential employers the expertise you have to offer and what you’re passionate about.
3. Include a High-Quality Profile Picture
A professional LinkedIn photo is an important step in completing your profile and is your first opportunity to make a good first impression.
Your profile photo should be a recent one, with a crisp focus and your face taking up about 60% of the image. Stay away from group photos, selfies and images that are grainy or awkwardly cropped. Instead, use a high-quality headshot, or photo that’s taken from the shoulders up, that shows off your personality while being professional.
4. Let Recruiters Know You're Job Searching
One element that ranks high on our list of LinkedIn profile tips is the #OpentoWork feature.
LinkedIn give you the opportunity to let recruiters and your network know that you’re open to being approached for new job opportunities. You can specify the types of career opportunities that interest you, and your preferred location if you have one.
With their #OpenToWork feature, you can control who sees that you’re looking for new opportunities, making this visible to all LinkedIn members or recruiters only. When you enable this feature as part of your job search, it adds the #OpenToWork photo frame to your profile photo.
5. Add a Background Photo
A background photo, sometimes referred to as a banner image, is the horizontal image that runs across the top of the page behind your profile picture.
It’s in a spot to command attention, so choose an image that makes a statement about you. You might consider something that represents your interests, a favorite hobby or a strong capability that you want to promote.
Be sure to avoid images that are distracting, political or controversial in nature. Speaking of nature, images of sunsets, mountain vistas and forests can be a great choice, or you can choose from one of LinkedIn’s banner templates.
6. Use Keywords
Your profile page functions in many ways like a professional website, and to optimize it for maximum exposure LinkedIn recommends using powerful keywords to help your profile get noticed by recruiters.
You can use industry-relevant keywords based on your skills and experience anywhere you want in your LinkedIn profile, but the two main areas where they emphasize using keywords are the Summary and Experience sections, especially if these keywords are related to your specific industry or profession.
Per LinkedIn, examples of keywords include Project Management, Account Management, Logistics, Process Improvement and Relationship Building.
How do you know what keywords to use? They might already be on your resume, especially if you work in an industry that uses a particular vocabulary or software. Otherwise, scanning job postings for commonly used terminology is another way to identify which words or phrases might be keyword.
7. Write a Headline That Captures Who You Are
You may have noticed that while many LinkedIn users’ profiles use their job title as a headline, some find a way to use the space more creatively. Using a descriptive headline that makes a statement about you and the way you want to position yourself professionally can help make your profile stand out more.
For example, let’s say your current position is marketing support specialist at a mortgage company and you’re known for being energetic and creative. Instead of using “Marketing support specialist at XYZ Mortgage”, a more attention-grabbing headline might be “Lively and creative marketer in the financial services industry.”
8. Avoid Buzzwords
Some adjectives are used so often and in so many places that they lose their effectiveness. A partial list of the most overused buzzwords in LinkedIn profiles includes:
Are we saying you can’t ever use those terms? No. But if you simply describe yourself as experienced, passionate, creative or strategic without providing further evidence to back those words up, their impact will ring rather hollow.
Another type of buzzword to avoid is industry jargon or acronyms. If you’re modeling your profile after others in your target industry, be careful not to use terms that are only familiar to industry insiders, as these may be confusing to recruiters or even hiring managers. Try to use language that can be understood by everyone on your LinkedIn profile, and save the technical vocabulary for interviews or when you’re speaking to someone who knows your industry intimately.
Acronyms are the same. Out of context, they can be confusing to readers who aren’t familiar with them. Make sure to spell these out and include the letters in parenthesis at the end if you want to.
9. Share Engaging Content
Use engaging, high-quality content to enrich your profile and expand your network. The publications section–which LinkedIn says is one of their most under-used profile elements – is a place where you can gain recognition for your own thought leadership or highlight topics or causes you’re passionate about.
This is also an opportunity to link different external assets you might have worked on for your job or independently, such as blogs or editorial pieces. As with other social media platforms, LinkedIn also allows you to publish long-format posts and contribute insightful comments on those posted by others, rather than just “liking” them. These are both good ways to attract attention, get involved in your network and establish credibility.
10. Keep Your Contact Info Up to Date
LinkedIn’s contact info settings allow you to control how people can get in touch with you. You can opt to list your profile URL, email, phone number, website or portfolio if you so choose. Just don’t forget to update them if any of these details change so people can still get in contact with you.
11. Highlight Your Skills
Make the most of your profile by fleshing out the skills section. You can start by picking suggestions that LinkedIn provides based on your profile or type your own in. Think about what relevant skills you want to highlight based on your experience and career goals, or ones that you feel reflect your abilities and knowledge most strongly.
This section not only helps to substantiate the description you’ve crafted with your headline and summary, but it also provides a way for your connections to endorse you.
12. Use the About Section to Introduce Yourself
The about section of your profile is a great way to help people get to know you. Take advantage of this section to tell your story and introduce yourself.
Once you’ve done that, you can make this summary sizzle by listing any achievements, awards, campaign or fundraising results or academic accomplishments – anything that demonstrates your effectiveness. Invest some time in this section. Work up a draft and share it with people who really know you for feedback, then revise and publish. You can edit and update this section as your experience grows.
13. Gain Endorsements
Among the important tips for LinkedIn profile building is gaining endorsements. It’s another way to substantiate the skills you’ve listed on your profile and establish credibility. Reach out and ask current and former colleagues, managers or peers if they would endorse your key skills. Oftentimes, your network will be more than happy to take a few minutes to write a review for you – and you just might be surprised at the wide array of skills they commend you for!
LinkedIn suggests being proactive about your endorsements. If you find you’re gaining endorsements in areas that may not accurately reflect your strongest skills, use the editing features in the skills section of your profile to choose which skills to show and which to hide.
Remember that endorsement is a two-way street in the LinkedIn village. One way to earn endorsements is by endorsing others who may, in turn, be compelled to return the favor and endorse you. It’s also a subtle way of networking, as any endorsement you give to others will appear on their profile along with your name, photo and job title.
14. Connect with Other Professionals
One way to make LinkedIn work effectively is to build a professional network of high-quality connections. To begin doing that, LinkedIn recommends syncing your profile with your email contacts. If you’re concerned there may be people in your address book who wouldn’t make good connections, keep in mind that connection requests are not sent without your permission. This will also help LinkedIn suggest professionals for you to connect with that may be connected to one of your contacts.
Another way to intentionally add quality connections is by following up meetings or phone calls with connection requests.
15. List Certifications
If you’ve earned any licenses or certifications that might help make you a more competitive job candidate, be sure to include them in your profile.
Professional certifications in occupational subspecialties like digital marketing, financial planning, cloud computing or others can help bulk up your profile. LinkedIn recommends including language certificates here too, because being multi-lingual may often be a plus, even if you don’t use a second language in your current job.
16. Take Skills Assessments
LinkedIn’s Skills Assessments feature allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of the skills you’ve listed on your profile by completing multiple-choice assessments specific to those skills. If you score in the 70th percentile or above, you’ll receive a “verified skill” badge that you can display on your profile. According to LinkedIn, candidates with verified skills are around 30% more likely to be hired. Another benefit is the aforementioned boost in personal branding that comes along with this verification.
17. Include Detailed Work Experience
Under each of the items in your profile’s experience section, be sure to highlight your responsibilities by adding details. You can highlight specific duties, such as how you were responsible for supervising staff members, how you supported other members of your team, any specific projects or stretch assignments you took on and the results you achieved supported by numerical data where possible. This gives recruiters a much clearer idea of your strengths and abilities when you apply for a position.
18. Utilize the Featured Section
Use the featured section to impress your target audience by including links to posts like articles, media and other digital items you want to showcase. This is particularly useful for creative professionals like graphic designers, writers and web developers, but can also be effective in highlighting media recognition or awards in any industry.
19. Proofread Everything
Make sure your profile has been carefully constructed and thoroughly proofread. Unlike other social media channels or text messaging where shorthand is commonly used and words are replaced with emojis, LinkedIn is a professional platform. Your writing should be in a professional voice and free of any typographical errors. A good way to do this is by asking someone you trust who has strong spelling and grammar skills to give your work a good review before publishing.
Another option is to use a spelling and grammar-checking application like Grammarly to catch common misspellings or grammatical errors, but even tools like these aren’t foolproof. You should always give what you’ve written a close read to catch any accidental autocorrects to proper nouns or names, as well as other errors that spellcheck missed.
20. Add Your Location
Along with your name, headline, current position, education and industry, the intro section of your profile should also include your location. It’s important because recruiters may be looking to fill an on-site position in a specific city or metro area and if your location matches up with their search criteria, another box might be checked in your favor.
For many people, using their home ZIP code may work fine. However, if you want to develop job opportunities or clients in a major city but live and work remotely in a suburb, consider using the city’s ZIP code. If you move, be sure to update your location.
21. Promote Your Accomplishments
Your LinkedIn profile is your place to shine. To be sure it’s as effective as it can be, promote your professional and/or academic accomplishments. In the about, experience or featured sections, statements about your accomplishments can stand out much more than just listing your experience and may be another way to make you a more competitive job candidate.
You can also add accomplishments by adding specific profile sections, where they may be more noticeable. Sections like volunteer experience, publications, patents and projects can be easily added.
22. Join Relevant Groups
LinkedIn Groups provide places for professionals in the same industry or with shared interests to exchange ideas and experiences, ask for guidance and expand their networks.
You can search for groups by name or keyword using the search bar at the top of your home page or browse through the list of groups that LinkedIn recommends for you. Once you’ve joined a group, you can join conversations, find answers, send message requests to other group members or create a new group of your own.
You can keep tabs on your existing groups and requests to join by using the “Work” menu at the upper right corner of your home page.
23. Add Honors or Awards
If you’ve earned recognition in your industry or at your school in the form of awards, certificates of achievement or competitive wins, add an Honors and Awards section to your profile and post them there.
It’s important to highlight these achievements, as they help validate your academic performance, dedication, passion, competitiveness or strong work ethic – all traits that potential employers may be looking for. If your professional experience is light or you’re looking for your first job, this profile section becomes even more important.
24. Include Volunteer Experience
Think volunteer experience doesn’t matter to employers? Think again. According to this video from LinkedIn Learning, 40% of hiring managers surveyed view volunteer experience as equivalent to work experience. In addition, they found that members who’ve added volunteer experience receive up to 6 times more profile views than those who haven’t. If you’ve chalked up major volunteer hours with a local non-profit organization, or even served as a member of their board, don’t underestimate the potential value it can add to your profile.
25. Add Recommendations
Once your profile is complete and you’ve begun to build your network, consider how recommendations can help you gain even more traction in your professional networking efforts. A recommendation is a commendation written by another LinkedIn member that recognizes and supports you in a more personal manner than an endorsement. A recommendation in someone’s own words, describing your best qualities or the effectiveness of your work, can be more powerful than an endorsement.
You can request a recommendation from any first-degree connection. If your connection writes a recommendation, you’ll be notified via a message. You can then accept it, dismiss it or ask for a revision. Once you’ve accepted the recommendation, it will be visible to your network.
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