Most professionals know that they need to distinguish themselves from other potential hires though their linkedin profile. It should be easy – you’re a unique individual with a specific set of strengths, talents, and experience that inherently sets you apart from the sea of others, right?
While that may be so, there’s no guarantee that hiring managers and other professionals from potential employers will notice these aspects of your profile – unless you present them in the right way.
It goes without saying that we’re all short on time these days. So, your goal on LinkedIn is not just to make a powerful impression, but to do so as efficiently as possible so that executives, hiring managers, other recruiters, and any other potential connections will notice you right away.
Not only will these tips boost your “Who’s Viewing Your Profile” metrics, but they’ll help you achieve results that matter. Whether that’s getting noticed by recruiters at your dream company or opening doors into a new career field, the optimization of your LinkedIn profile can get you there.
If you’re ready to get started, I recommend that you grab any information you might need (including dates of past employment), and set aside a few hours during which you’ll be able to work uninterrupted.
Keep in mind that putting in the extra effort now is what can make the difference between getting the job you really want versus having to settle for something less.
We’ll start with the basics and move on from there, so that everything from your profile name to your status updates are optimized to best attract the people with whom you want to connect. If you’re ready to begin, then let’s get started!
When it comes to optimizing your LinkedIn profile, there’s nothing that’s off-‐limits. In other words, with every single aspect of your profile, there’s an opportunity to capitalize on those seemingly insignificant character counts so that you can truly make your profile stand out. Let’s take a look.
This step is as simple as it gets: your name has a 60-‐character maximum, and it’s the most basic form of identification you can include. For this portion of your profile, keep it short and simple – include your first and last name, and avoid using any nicknames, contact information, or keywords in this area, as it could make you appear inauthentic.
Don’t overlook the URL. Optimizing this portion of your profile gives it a neat appearance, and more importantly, makes it easier for others to share. Customize your URL so that it appears this way: linkedin.com/[yourname]. If your name is already taken, consider incorporating some other distinguishing characters, but don’t include a ton of numbers, nicknames, or any other unprofessional content.
Each day, it’s estimated that 45 million profiles are viewed on LinkedIn. One way to ensure that your profile gets included in that number is to incorporate a professional photograph – this makes your profile seven times more likely to be viewed. If you can, go for professional headshots; if not, make sure that the image of you is professional in appearance (business attire, plain background, and no selfies!).
Part of having an eye-‐catching LinkedIn profile is making sure that you’ve achieved 100% completeness. While you might not consider the background photo to be of significant importance, this is an opportunity to personalize your page a bit more and gain the attention of professionals in your industry.
Keep in mind that it should still be professional – if you’re in accounting, why not choose an image with numbers? You can get a little creative yet still choose an image that fits with your niche and helps you get noticed in a good way.
In just 120 characters, you have to sell yourself as the most captivating potential hire that recruiters, hiring managers, and your network of connections won’t be able to forget. Essentially, your headline should reflect your personal brand promise – it should say who it is that you help, what value you can deliver as a professional, and why you’re the best choice (what makes you unique).
Here’s where you can include relevant industry keywords that describe your role and key skills that hiring managers are seeking. What words do you hope to get found for when your potential employer does a search? Include those in your headline.
Like your name, this aspect of your profile is pretty straightforward. But before you move on so quickly, consider this: if you live on the outskirts or within commuting range of a big city, it may benefit you to list that city as your location. This can improve your odds in search results, and is especially beneficial if your dream company is located in a major city.
In addition to optimizing your location, you need to tailor the industry section of your profile so that it effectively attracts the recruiter or manager that you want to connect with. To target your potential employer, ask yourself this: what would he or she search for in the “industry” section to find me?
If you have a paid profile (and thus, have access to the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” insights), then you may want to experiment with incorporating different words into your “industry” section. After a few tries, you should be able to find out which phrase is resonating best with your target employers.
Information You’re on LinkedIn to make connections, so make sure it’s super easy for anyone who views your profile to get in touch with you. If you’re only a third-‐degree connection or beyond, it’s likely that someone who’s interested in connecting with you won’t bother to send an introduction or buy an InMail to get in touch. You can still make it easy for people to reach you by optimizing your contact details. You can include up to three websites as well as a Twitter handle.
Here, you have 2,000 characters to describe your role and your significant accomplishments. Envision the skills/experience that would define you as a key player in the role for which you’re seeking employment. How can you illustrate the ways in which you’ve grown, made key accomplishments, and truly benefitted your past or current employer(s)? Don’t be afraid to incorporate numbers here. Most importantly, show, don’t tell!
If you can provide links to past projects or include any eye-‐catching media such as videos, images, presentations, or documents to your experience section, then do so. Whenever possible, let your work speak for itself.
Also, be sure not to rattle off past projects, duties, and/or responsibilities in a resume-‐like format. Your goal is to make your profile stand out and come to life. If you’re questioning the readability of your Experience section, then run it by a couple of friends or family members to see if it needs any edits.
Like the Experience section, Publications has a 2,000 character limit. Here, you should include any examples of work you’ve done – from blog posts to papers and any other published written content, any work-‐related content you’ve completed in the past will exhibit credibility in your industry for anyone who’s viewing your profile.
The LinkedIn Summary is of monumental importance when it comes to getting noticed, and optimizing it is what will give you an edge over your competition. Some people fail to bother with their LinkedIn Summary altogether, which is a big mistake.
The summary has a 2,000 character limit, and it’s in your best interest to use those characters up. Specifically, research suggests that profiles with summaries of 40 words or more are more likely to be featured in employers’ search results. That’s a great reason to put a little extra thought into your summary.
One of the easiest ways to get started on your LinkedIn Summary is to revisit your headline. Remember, your headline should reflect your promise of value. It indicates why (and how) you could be a valuable asset for a potential employer. To create your summary, you’ll simply build on that statement.
Here are a few questions to consider when writing your summary:
- What would you like to communicate to recruiters and potential employers about yourself?
- What type of impression do you want to make on people who view your profile?
- What qualities are you known for? Think of ways in which you can illustrate how your work embodies your core values, skills, and talents.
Also, there are some words you may want to consider avoiding altogether. One of the most commonly over used phrase (according to LinkedIn themselves!) is “motivated.” You might think that this would be a strong adjective that any recruiter would consider important, but the truth is that nearly everyone includes this word in their profiles.
Instead of using these adjectives, focus on explaining the things that set you apart as a viable candidate. How did your motivation drive better results in a past role? Did you use your motivation to find a creative solution to an ongoing dilemma? Remember the rule: show, don’t tell!
Your summary should also have an organized structure. You shouldn’t rattle off past accomplishments or try to woo potential employers by taking on a salesy tone. The summary should have a logical flow that highlights a few specific past accomplishments and successes of note.
You can also discuss the things about which you are passionate (as long as they pertain to your industry) and any special skills or experiences you have that set you apart. Your tone should be 100% genuine. Don’t forget that you can always ask friends or family members to proof your work and provide any suggestions for improvement.
Essentially, the summary section affords you the opportunity to tell the story of you. While it should be professional and the focus should be on your career (avoid details about your personal life, of course), you don’t have to make it sound too formal or forced. Be sure to write your summary in the first person, and always begin by building on your promise of value.
Some other details you might want to consider including in your summary are the amount of years for which you’ve worked in your industry; or, if you’re making a significant career shift, the reasons why you’re switching career paths and what past experience makes you a unique, valuable candidate.
Finally, don’t forget to include a call-to-action at the end of your summary. You need to make profile visitors feel as if they should get in contact with you now. This is the part where you essentially “seal the deal” and do your best to convince recruiters that you’re the candidate they’ve been looking for.