L inkedIn has emerged as the most valuable social network for professionals in the world. With a massive 810 million active users, LinkedIn connects experts from every industry, offering a place to showcase your personal brand, and attract career opportunities.
Today, 87% of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn to find candidates, and one study found of the 122 million people who received an interview based on their LinkedIn profile, 35.5% were offered the job. As many as three people are hired on LinkedIn every minute.
As the number of people on LinkedIn increases, it’s becoming more important to learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, so you can attract the correct attention. Whether you’re searching for a new job, networking opportunities, or simply striving to improve your professional brand, it’s crucial to learn how to leverage LinkedIn to your advantage.
Why You Need to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn isn’t just an avenue for connecting with other professionals. The platform has emerged as a vital tool in achieving career goals. Around 44% of LinkedIn users take home more than $75,000 per year, suggesting the right profile can pave the way for professional success.
With LinkedIn, experts have a clear environment where they can showcase their knowledge and skills, track down recruiters, and discover new opportunities.
Here’s why every professional should be focused on optimizing their LinkedIn profile.
- Better personal branding: Professional or personal branding is crucial to your success in any industry. A personal brand helps to identify who you are to potential recruiters, partners, and other people capable of bolstering your business opportunities. With LinkedIn, you can share thought leadership posts and content to help highlight your values to others. You can also take more control over what people learn about you online. 70% of US HR professionals say they’ve rejected candidates based solely on the information they found on the web.
- Increased exposure to hiring managers: 75% of HR departments are now required to look for job applicants online. As hybrid and remote working opportunities continue to develop, LinkedIn is becoming the primary place for recruiters to find candidates. With LinkedIn, you can ensure you stand out to people interested in finding someone with your skills. You’ll be able to list your experience and education on your profile, demonstrate your success in previous roles, and get on the radar of recruitment teams.
- Networking opportunities: LinkedIn is excellent for building relationships with other professionals. You can find business partners, potential investors, recruiters, and even employers on the platform. Leveraging keywords and content marketing strategies will help you to attract the right people to your profile. When you learn how to make your LinkedIn profile stand out, you benefit from a wider range of diverse connections.
- Learning opportunities: There’s a huge amount of ever-growing content available on LinkedIn for educational purposes. Professionals are constantly sharing reports on their industry, insights into the marketplace, and other useful information. LinkedIn can help you to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in your profession, which could also inspire you towards developing new skills or exploring opportunities.
- Enhanced job search: Because LinkedIn was built for professionals, it includes a huge range of features to make it easier for experts to find job opportunities. Recruiters and employers use LinkedIn to advertise positions on job pages. It’s also possible to join LinkedIn groups where you can find opportunities specific to your industry before they’re posted elsewhere. You’ll also be able to find leaders in businesses and reach out to them directly about job options if you’re keen to work for a specific brand.
How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 9 Easy Steps
85% of US recruiters and HR experts say an employee’s online reputation influences their hiring decisions to some extent. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile gives you an opportunity to determine what people learn when they search for your name online.
While the most successful LinkedIn profiles are enhanced and developed over time, there are various steps you can follow to start enhancing your presence.
Step 1: Ensure Your Profile is Complete
First, optimizing your LinkedIn profile means ensuring you complete all of the sections available on the platform. High-quality profiles are up to 40 times more likely to be found by recruiters and other professionals. When you sign up for LinkedIn, you’ll receive guidance on the platform telling you how complete your profile is. You’ll need to ensure you have:
- A profile picture
- An informative location
- Insights into your location and industry
- An engaging summary
- A description of your current position
- Work history insights
- 4 skills and fields of expertise
- Educational details
- Multiple connections
Step 2: Enhance your Profile Picture
Your profile picture is one of the first things that grabs attention on LinkedIn. The social platform suggests having a high-quality profile can make you 7 times more likely to be found in searches. However, it’s essential to ensure your picture looks the part. Ideally, you’ll need an image that looks professional, warm, and welcoming, with an excellent level of quality.
If you can’t afford a professional headshot, you can use your smartphone to take a photo and edit it with one of the free services online, like Canva. Avoid photos where you’re looking away from the camera, or too far away from the lens. A headshot covering your face and shoulders is often the most common choice for professionals.
Step 3: Customize Your Background Image
The background image is the banner which appears behind your profile picture on LinkedIn. This is an often under-utilized feature, which could mean it helps you to stand out from similar people in your industry. You can use your background image to share a quote or useful information about you, or simply as a way to make your page more engaging.
Ensure you choose a background image which works well with your profile picture. Avoid clashing colors or content which might be difficult to view on mobile devices.
Step 4: Choose the Right Headline
The headline on LinkedIn is the first snippet of information you’ll give your target audience. You can highlight your previous and existing roles here, use hashtags to attract attention from searchers, and leverage keywords to make yourself more visible.
To optimize your headline, make sure you include everything you want visitors to know when they first arrive on your profile. Lindsey Pollak immediately draws attention to her position as an NYTimes bestselling author, and her knowledge as a career and workspace expert.
Step 5: Upgrade Your “About” Summary
When optimizing your LinkedIn profile, don’t overlook your About Summary. This is where you can provide more information about your passions, who you are and what you do. Think of this space as a chance to tell people a snippet of your story, so they’re interested in learning more about you.
Start by covering who you are, what your values are, and what your goals might be in your industry. Next, cover some of the unique selling points which might make you more attractive to hiring managers and partners. You could highlight your creative skills, or recent accomplishments.
It can also be helpful to add bullet points covering your areas of expertise, so it’s easier for readers to scan through your abilities. Adding in relevant keywords connected to your industry will make it easier for you to rank on the LinkedIn search results.
Step 6: Choose the Right Job Titles
Job titles tend to vary from one industry to the next. If you had an unusual title at a previous role, it may make it easier for people to find you when they’re looking for people with “Intern” or “Co-founder” experience. Replace the buzzword terms with common titles.
If you’re not sure what the most common terms are in your industry, you can check out the profiles of other, similar professionals in your field. You can also include brackets with additional possible job titles in the descriptions you write for each role.
When writing descriptions for your roles, clearly state the function you had in the job, your tasks, and your accomplishments to illustrate the value you can bring to a new employer. Adding at least 2 of your most recent positions makes your profile 12 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn.
Step 7: Make the Most of the “Skills” Section
LinkedIn recommends adding at least 4 skills and relevant fields of expertise to your skills section when you’re wondering how to improve your LinkedIn presence. You can have up to 50 skills on your profile, and pin 3 of those to the top of your list.
A good way to strengthen your LinkedIn section is to identify the qualities you know recruiters are looking for. Avoid soft skills like “communication”, and focus on functional abilities, like email marketing, copywriting, or back-end development.
Another way to upgrade your skills is to have people in your network “endorse” you. The more endorsements you have, the more you authenticate your abilities to anyone looking at your profile. Ask for endorsements from previous colleagues, and employers.
Step 8: Collect Recommendations
Recommendations on LinkedIn are essentially testimonials or reviews from people you’ve worked with in the past. You can usually encourage people to add these to your profile by offering to give them a recommendation in return.
As a clear source of social proof, recommendations convince anyone who might connect with you on LinkedIn that they can trust the claims you make about yourself.
Ideally, your recommendations should come from reputable people in your industry, with their own complete LinkedIn profiles. It’s also worth ensuring the recommendations left by other professionals are descriptive and detailed. Ask for insights into your work ethic and the things you helped your contacts to accomplish when working with them.
Step 9: Expand your Profile with Extra Information
If you really want to learn how to make your LinkedIn profile stand out, it’s worth taking advantage of every section you can add to provide information to your audience. While some segments may not be relevant to your experience, LinkedIn allows users to add insights into publications where their work has been displayed, insights into awards, and even overviews of the “causes” they support.
The more information you can include about yourself, the more complete your profile becomes.
You can even take “skills assessments” on LinkedIn which allows you to add a verified skills badge to your profile. According to studies, candidates with verified skills are up to 30% more likely to be hired when applying for new roles.
Step 10: Be Active on LinkedIn
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile isn’t just about ensuring you include all the right information on your page. You’ll also need to leverage your account to connect with people, build your network, and share your expertise on a regular basis.
Start by adding as many relevant contacts to your network as possible. The more contacts you have, the more likely you’ll be to show up in search results when people are searching for individuals with relevant skills or experience. You can search for like-minded professionals by looking for keywords in the LinkedIn search bar.
Sharing content regularly is another great way to activate your profile. You can post content from other industry leaders on your profile, or write articles and publish them directly to LinkedIn. The more content you share, the more you’ll establish yourself as a thought leader with a genuine understanding of your industry.
Start Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is the ultimate way to attract partners, investors, and employers to boost your professional opportunities. But it’s not a one-time activity. As your skills expand, your knowledge of your industry improves, and you gain new experience, you’ll need to add to your LinkedIn profile on a regular basis.
It’s also worth paying attention to the new features and profile options LinkedIn releases over time. The social network is constantly evolving, and providing users with more ways to connect with the right audience. Stay up-to-date on the latest features, and take advantage of anything which could give you an edge over the competition.