As a job seeker, having a LinkedIn profile is no longer a matter of choice. It’s a necessity.
Well, for starters, everyone is on LinkedIn - job seekers, recruiters, CEOs, that weird guy next door, your mom - everyone.
Okay, but what if you're not looking for a job right now.
Well, you don’t have to be actively looking for a job to use LinkedIn. In fact, if you optimize your profile and engage with the platform a job could come looking for you.
And that job could be THE job.
People are getting great job opportunities on Linkedin every day. Some of the opportunities are not available anywhere else.
So, if you want in on all of the job goodies, you need to get on LinkedIn, max out your profile, and engage with other users.
This guide will help you optimize your profile so that it becomes an easy and exciting find for recruiters in your field.
Table of Contents:
- Why Do I Need to Worry About LinkedIn?
- Here’s How to Max Out Your Profile 100%
- Create a Persona That Sticks With Recruiters
- Make a List of Strategic Keywords for Your Profile
- Here’s How to Make the Most of Your Headline and Summary
- A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words, So Make It Professional
- Here’s How to Further Personalize Your Profile
- Here’s How to Add Your Experience Section on LinkedIn
- Boost Your Profile with Skills and Endorsements
- How to Ask for High-powered Recommendations
- Intro Videos Are the New Novelty on LinkedIn
- No One Likes Using LinkedIn, But That’s Not an Excuse
- Key Takeaway
1. Why Do I Need to Worry About LinkedIn?
Here is some food for thought:
There are currently 433 million users on LinkedIn and 87% of recruiters are using LinkedIn specifically to find candidates for jobs.
So, that’s where the party’s at.
With this in mind, it’s important that your LinkedIn profile becomes much more than just a digital copy of your resume.
Because when you use it effectively, LinkedIn is much more than just a place to look for job offers.
Your LinkedIn profile can help you:
- establish valuable contacts
- establish yourself as an expert in your field
- creep on other professionals
The platform is a big database where you can find out how others designate and describe their career paths, what’s going on in your industry, and what’s important to members of your professional community.
Oh, and yes - LinkedIn is where you can easily find job offers that you won't find anywhere else.
Even if you aren't looking for a job, recruiters are looking for professionals like you.
If you max out your profile, there is a good chance that you could receive job offers that could lead to your dream job.
2. Here’s How to Max Out Your Profile 100%
The first thing you will want to do to optimize your LinkedIn profile is to max out its capabilities.
To do that, you have to feed the platform quite a bit of information.
If you take a look at your profile page, you might notice a big circle on the right-hand side that says “Profile Strength.” The circle is like a big video game mana bar that shows how strong your online avatar is at a given moment.
Once you’ve provided enough information, the circle will reach “All-Star” level. And that’s where you want to be.
Like anything else with an All-Star level, you can’t have fewer stars in your constellation, or you will be a nobody.
Users who fully complete their profiles are 40x more likely to receive opportunities on LinkedIn.
To reach All-Star level, you will need to enter information into most of the fields available to you. That means you need to write a summary, and add things like projects and volunteer work.
Simply adding 40 words in the summary section means that your profile is more likely to end up in a search.
If you haven’t reached maxed out your profile, you are limiting recruiters’ access to information about you. And recruiters want a full image of the people they are going to hire, including a peek at your personality and interests.
Current global human resource trends show that work culture is becoming a focal point for many businesses and that companies are hiring based on a candidate’s personality as much as their skills and experience.
According to LinkedIn, 87% of hiring managers are seeking employees with personality.
3. Creating a Persona That Sticks With Recruiters
Before you start to write your headline and summary (arguably the most important parts of your profile), you’ll want to do some head scratching and pencil chewing.
That’s because, to get the most out of both, it’s a good idea to put some thought into your personal brand or professional persona.
Having a personal brand or persona happens to be the best way to show off your personality.
You know that situation where you attended a party the night before, and you ask your friend, “Do you remember that short girl with blue hair who was talking about Pokémon?”
And your friend says, “Yeah, Janet.”
Creating a professional persona is like that. The result is such that a person referring to you uses two or three keywords to describe you.
Janet’s blue hair, short stature, and Pokémon addiction were the key aspects that set her apart from other people at the party.
What key aspects do you want as identifiers? If you lack in the idea department, try snooping on the pros. How are other people in your field self-identifying?
4. Make a List of Strategic Keywords for Your Profile
Most of the keywords you will use will be industry specific and skill-based. Having a list of keywords on hand when you start to write various sections of your profile will make things much easier.
To find keywords for your profile, do a search on LinkedIn for your profession.
Check out three or four of the top profiles that come up and make a note of any words or phrases that reappear.
Also, check out some job offers for your position. Job offers are a great place to find keywords because hiring managers load them up with the skills and experience they find the most relevant.
Julie Dossett, Communications Lead at LinkedIn Canada, says:
“You must use keywords relevant to your industry. Get to know what words and skills come up in job descriptions and other people’s summaries. Keywords are an important part of searches made by recruiters.”
At the same time, she warns that the tricky part is to know the difference between keywords and buzzwords.
Buzzwords are empty words that are tired and devoid of meaning. She says:
“You want to use keywords from your industry that are also authentic and really describe you.”
LinkedIn often publishes a list of buzzwords. The top five buzzwords listed for 2016 include:
Finally, put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter. If you were looking for someone with a specific skill set or from a certain industry, what words would you type into the search bar to find the right person?
5. Here’s How to Make the Most of Your Headline and Summary
The Professional Headline (or your title) is one of the few fields that LinkedIn will automatically populate with information.
If you do not change it, LinkedIn will display your current job title as your headline. And that is a huge waste of space.
Personalizing your headline is one of the best things you can do for your profile.
Keep in mind that you have only 120 characters to work with here, so you don’t want to use full sentences, and you want to be strategic about your use of keywords.
The Headline is where you strike a balance between the personal brand you’ve created by now and the industry keywords you’ve identified. Pick two or three keyword skills or professional concepts that best define yourself.
Note, you can use them again when you begin to write your summary.
If you are a professional with work experience under your belt, the headline is where you describe who you are as a professional.
Competitive Pokémon Trainer with Collection of 68 Pokémon - Unorthodox Battle Style and Philosophy of Training
Okay for real:
Information Technology (IT) Team Manager - Programmer and Web Developer - E-commerce Women's Fashion Industry
And if you are a student or fresh graduate, lead with who you are now (your degree/ field of study) and follow-up with who you want to become.
Engineering Graduate - Mechanical Engineering - Automotive Industry
Lead with your main professional title or degree, add other relevant core competencies that you have and add an industry.
Also, being more specific allows your profile to turn up in more search results, making your profile visible to more recruiters. And more is a good thing.
Note that using keywords in other sections will also affect search results.
Which brings us to the summary section.
“Completing the summary part is important. It shows who you are, what you have to offer, and what makes you special. Often, a resume is just a list of jobs. Your LinkedIn headline and summary will help build your personality whereas a conventional resume may not reflect the person behind the paper.”
The summary section on LinkedIn works the same as the summary section on your resume with a few key differences.
1. On LinkedIn, it is more than acceptable to use the first person.
2. You should add your contact information. Otherwise, people who are not connected to you will not see it.
3. You can add media such as documents, photos, videos, and presentations.
Just remember, a resume summary is a short, snappy introduction to yourself that presents your career progress, goals, and skill set.
I am a Professional Boyfriend. I have 10+ years of experience in delivering entertaining anecdotes that result in an 80% increase in satisfaction for my dates during boring social events. I have an MA in hand holding, and I hold a Certificate in Romantic Dinners. I have attended workshops and training for laying coats over mud puddles. I am also proficient at negotiating long lines at coat checks. I received the Best Boyfriend of the Year Award at the International Boyfriend Convention in 2015 and again in 2016.
My phone number is 123-4567, and you can follow me on Twitter @boyfriendmaterial - but you will not find the likes of me on Tinder.
Note that adding numbers and details is the perfect way to prove your proficiency.
You could write:
Or you could write:
Sales Representative able to convert 20% of leads to sales.
And don’t forget those keywords!
Pro Tip: You’ll want to make sure that the information on your LinkedIn profile corresponds to the information on your actual resume.
LinkedIn is a great place to add information that doesn’t fit on your resume, but discrepancies, for example between dates, can throw off a recruiter.
And if you’ve probably created a professional persona for your resume, use your LinkedIn profile to reinforce your personal brand.
6. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words, So Make It Professional
Adding a professional photo is obvious. But did you know that adding a photo will result in your profile getting 11x more views?
And Julie Dossett says that adding a photo makes it 14x more likely that a recruiter will click on your profile.
You don’t need a professional headshot. Of course, if you can get one done then do so, but if you don’t have the resources just make sure your photo looks professional.
That means making sure you are dressed in semi-formal business attire, taking the photo against a clean background, and trying to look pleasant.
Don’t use a photo from Facebook and lose the tigers and the duckface. If it would flop on Tinder, there’s no way it’s going to fly on LinkedIn.
7. Here’s How to Further Personalize Your Profile
One thing you want to avoid is forgetting to personalize the default elements of your profile.
By default, LinkedIn will do at least two things:
- Generate a link to your profile composed of a string of random characters. You are more than a string of random characters.
- Automatically populate your professional headline with your current job title.
You already know how to change the headline. Let’s personalize your link.
Personalizing your link will make it easier for others to remember, plus it will look nice on your business cards, resume, blog, or as a lower back tattoo.
Here is what it should look like:
Okay, so how do you change it?
Your URL is located under your profile picture. When you hover over it, a small icon will appear next to it. Clicking on the icon causes a sidebar to appear on the right.
Follow the directions in the sidebar and you’re golden.
Another novel way to personalize your profile is to add links to your other social media profiles (Twitter, Google+), your blog URL, or links to your portfolio or website. You can add up to three links.
And you can add all of them in the Contact Information section.
And when it comes to adding your contact information, make it as complete as possible. Add your professional email address and your phone number. You could also consider adding your Skype username if you use the platform in a professional context.
8. Here’s How to Add Your Experience Section on LinkedIn
LinkedIn’s experience section works much the same as its resume counterpart. The difference is that you can add so much more on LinkedIn.
Here are some basic things to keep in mind when you get to your experience section.
1. Write your job history in reverse chronological order starting with your current position.
2. Underneath each position, you will want to include approximately six bullet points describing the scope of your responsibilities at that job.
3. On LinkedIn, you can use the first person to describe past responsibilities. Otherwise, use action verbs as you would on a resume.
I spearheaded a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative that boosted employee involvement by 40% in 2015.
Spearhead team building activities to help new recruits adjust to XYZ’s work culture.
4. Each of these bullet points should be seasoned with keywords, follow the bullet point format, and include facts and figures.
To format bullet points:
- Start with an Action Verb (or first person + action verb)
- Make a Quantifiable Point
- Follow Up with a Specific Task
Action Verb: Initiated
Quantifiable Point: Newsletter registration up by 15%.
Specific Task: Made a marketing campaign.
Initiated a targeted email marketing campaign that resulted in a 15% upswing in newsletter registration.
5. You should try to include achievements.
When you add achievements, try using the PAR (Problem Action Result) approach.
In situation P (Problem), I did A (Action), which led to R (Result).
To increase revenue (P), I created a new marketing campaign (A) that led to a 15% increase in sales and a 10% increase in revenue (R).
6. You should try to craft a narrative that reflects the persona you introduced in your summary.
Also, you’ll want to show career progression. Of course, if you haven’t started your career, that’s not a possibility.
In that case, Julie Dossett says:
“What you’re trying to convey in your experience section is that you’ve worked and that you’re responsible. So, if you don’t have a lot of experience, focus on your academic, volunteer, charity, and extracurricular activities - these can reflect your capabilities and personality.”
If you are a professional with a lot of work experience, show that your progression into a management position was steady over time. Each role should reinforce your place in the next one.
Because describing yourself as a social media manager won’t be credible if all you did was the marketing for your parent’s pizza place.
Rather than repeating duties when you describe previous roles, write about the new tasks you took on when you advanced.
It will look like this:
- I am responsible for the creation of a global brand strategy.
- I prepare Category and Portfolio Deployment Plans.
- Team Management (10 marketing specialists).
Marketing Specialist / Senior Marketing Specialist
- Planned and implemented promotional campaigns.
- Cooperated with interactive agencies.
- Assisted during promotional campaigns.
LinkedIn also allows you to add “media” in your experience section such as photos, videos, and presentations. Anything that would highlight your skills or provide an example of the work you undertook in a previous role goes here.
9. Boost Your Profile With Skills and Endorsements
LinkedIn allows you to add up to 50 skills in your Skills & Endorsements section.
While you can max this section out, only the top ten skills will show up in the top part of this section. The rest will drop down to a subsection with a heading that says:
“David also knows about…”
So, you will want to make sure that the first ten skills you add are your top skills. You will also want to make sure that these are keyword skills.
If you want to find out how popular a skill is either:
- put your profile in “view profile” mode and click on the skills you’ve already added
- click on skills that appear in other professionals' skills sections.
You’ll be taken to a page that will give you a working definition of the skill and show you how many other LinkedIn users have listed that skill on their profile.
The page will also show you where people with that skill work, where they went to university, and what other related skills they have.
If you continue to explore the page, you can find articles and presentations.
These pages are fun to explore, and they will help you make sure that you’ve used the best skill to describe what you do and that you’ve not forgotten other skills that are related.
The other half of this section, endorsements, aren’t something you can add on your own. Your connections need to endorse your skill set for you.
How do you get endorsements?
LinkedIn is a very reciprocal site. If you scratch backs, your back will get scratched. If you want endorsements and recommendations (and you need them), chances are, so do other people.
When you start building your network, ask the people you’ve worked with, your friends, and your old professors and fellow students to endorse your skills.
And make sure you’ve already gone ahead and endorsed theirs in return.
And when you attend a conference or an industry event, add those people as well and ask for endorsements or recommendations.
Endorse and recommend them back. Spread the love.
Pro Tip: When you add skills, LinkedIn will autosuggest things to you as you go. Choosing a suggested skill is better than entering one in manually. That’s because the suggested skills are things people actually search for on LinkedIn.
Also, if you want a skill endorsed, make sure that it shows up in your summary and experience sections as a keyword. LinkedIn is much more likely to suggest that your connections endorse a skill if it shows up across your profile.
10. How to Ask for High-powered Recommendations
Recommendations are a little harder to get than endorsements because people actually have to write something instead of just clicking a button.
At the same time, recommendations are more powerful than endorsements because people actually have to write something instead of just clicking a button.
Recommendations are powerful because they support what you’re already saying about yourself on your profile, giving your profile plausibility and validation.
It’s one thing to say “Hey, I’m great!” and it’s another if someone else says it too.
Asking for recommendations on LinkedIn looks the same as it does in real life.
You should approach people who know you well and ask them if they can pretty please write you a thoughtful recommendation.
They should be close enough to you that you’d be able to write a recommendation for them as well, which is a very nice thing to do.
Before you start reaching out, take a moment to refine your requests.
First, people can add recommendations to specific jobs you’ve had. They can also give you general recommendations that end up in a separate section.
So, here’s what you should think about:
- Would any of your past jobs benefit from a recommendation? (The answer to that question is almost always yes.)
- What claims have you made about your roles and responsibilities that could use some validation?
- Who would be the best person to provide you with that recommendation?
- Who could provide you with an outstanding general recommendation?
When considering who to ask, you will want to think big.
Of course, you should ask someone who knows you well and would be more than happy to provide you with a shining review.
At the same time, a recommendation from the CEO, an employee at a prestigious company, or an influencer in your field is always a plus.
Before you send the request for a recommendation via LinkedIn, reach out via email or ask in person.
Sending an email will give you a chance to make sure that they get your request when you do send it via LinkedIn and to go into a little bit of detail.
Politely explain to the person what you’d like a recommendation for and how it will help illustrate your skills.
You can also suggest writing a draft for them so that they don’t have to put something together themselves. Make sure the person you are writing would be okay with such a request.
If you write a message like that from the get go, you are more likely to get a solid recommendation where you need it most.
When you finally send the request via LinkedIn, make sure you choose the correct role and select the person you’ve already asked.
Note, if you’ve never sent such a request before, it’s a bit odd.
To send a request, you first have to figure out where to send it from and no, you don’t send it from your LinkedIn inbox.
First, locate the big, blue “view profile as" button next to your profile photo. The downward arrow next to it will present you with a drop-down menu where you can select “ask to be recommended.”
Once your inside, LinkedIn does give you the opportunity to choose up to three people to blast with requests.
You’ve already identified who you are going to send your request to, so only choose that one person. You can always repeat the process with another person later.
When you write your message, make sure you personalize it and get rid of whatever generic garbage LinkedIn automatically generates for you. Also, attach the draft you’ve prepared if they agreed that you should do so.
Repeat the process as many times as necessary, and make sure you send a thank you note out to everyone who writes you a recommendation.
11. Intro Videos - A New Novelty for LinkedIn Users
A new thing that people are doing to enhance their profiles is adding a short video of introduction in their summary section.
“Because you can now upload media, we’re seeing short, little introduction videos that have been shot using a phone. The videos are thirty seconds of ‘Hi, I’m Julie, and here's what I have to offer as a great hire.’ The videos can give a real sense of who you are and show that you’re fully engaged in building your career path.”
If you decide that such a video would suit you, just make sure that the content is professional and shows what kind of person you are.
“I think the videos are exciting because it’s a great opportunity for a recruiter to meet you. Even if they don’t click through, it shows that you are very engaged in building and presenting your professional brand."
Pro Tip: Another new feature of LinkedIn is an app for student users. The app allows students to connect with alumni from their university, who had a similar education, to see how their career paths evolved.
Sometimes it’s hard to think outside of the box when it comes to pursuing your career.
Career paths are not as narrow as they may seem, and the app may help you find a path that you never even thought was possible.
12. No One Likes Using LinkedIn, But That’s Not an Excuse
Let’s be honest. If you’ve had a LinkedIn profile for awhile now, how many times do you check it in a week? Probably not even once.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows that only 13% of all LinkedIn users visit the site every day. Most people (61%) visit it every few weeks or even less.
One of the best things you can do for your LinkedIn profile is to start visiting LinkedIn.
Think about how much time you spend on Facebook.
If you’re like me, you’re on it almost every day, all day, and you’re constantly making connections with people. Now, think about how many professional connections you could be making if you actively used LinkedIn.
But what exactly are you supposed to be doing on LinkedIn anyway?
All of the previous advice was about how to make a better profile, but the thing you need to do to get the most out of LinkedIn is to become an active user.
Using LinkedIn is not entirely different from interacting on Facebook. You just have to keep it professional.
- Build Your Network
- Join Groups
- Add Influencers
- Sharing and Posting Content
Building Your Network
When you ask people to be a contact on LinkedIn, make sure you send personal messages and reminders of how you met.
If you get random requests from people you don’t know, but who are in your industry, add them as well. Do watch out for bogus profiles. But the general rule of thumb here is the more, the merrier. Really.
Joining Groups and Adding Influencers
If you’re a new user or a student, the easiest way to start networking is to join groups. Start with the alumni associations linked with your university.
“Start by joining groups linked with your university. You’d be amazed how generous these people can be with their time and advice - as long as you are professional and thoughtful in engaging with fellow members. Next, start joining groups in your industry, sector, and company and start asking questions! It’s a fantastic source of connections and information.”
You can also join groups that link to industries and companies that you admire and would like to reach out to in the future. Observing companies that attract you the most will enable you to keep up with fresh information and get close to the people in the industry.
Adding influencers is also a great way to keep track of what’s happening in your industry and make connections.
If you join groups and add influencers, you won’t have to look far when you need keywords for your profile or resume, when you need to do research for a new job, or when you simply need some inspiration.
Sharing and Posting Content
In the meantime, share interesting content that shows up in your feed and think about posting content you’ve created.
Part of what you’re trying to do on LinkedIn is build up your personal brand online.
One of the ways to do that is to tap into the knowledge on LinkedIn and curate it for your connections.
While sharing and posting may not seem to get you far, the least it’s going to do is show anyone who looks at your profile that you care and that you’re knowledgeable.
“LinkedIn is a repository of insight. People are publishing on the site now, and they are debating and discussing different issues. If you pay attention to what people are talking about you can arm yourself with that information. You’ll become a knowledgeable person who can understand issues and topics with anyone in your field.”
Once you’re comfortable, posting material isn’t complicated. If you’ve read up on a topic and feel that you have strong, unique things to say about it, go ahead and write a short 300-word post.
Writing will allow you to begin to craft your professional voice and build your professional brand.
The bottom line is to engage. You want to be active on LinkedIn by liking, commenting, sharing, and posting.
Like any other social media platform, the more you interact with and feed LinkedIn the more it will work for you in return.
Most of us don’t feel comfortable humble bragging about our accomplishments or work.
A lot of you won’t feel comfortable writing a post or see the point in sharing information.
And it doesn’t help that the platform isn’t that intuitive to use in the first place.
But with almost every recruiter checking the platform before making a new hire, and millions of professionals using it to engage, you can no longer afford to ignore LinkedIn or put off revamping your profile.