How to Write a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn profiles are central to modern networking, hiring, and recruiting practices.
LinkedIn users can uncover opportunities by reaching out to past and present colleagues,
industry peers, and potential employers. Hiring managers review and vet job applicants
based on their LinkedIn profiles and recruiters search LinkedIn for new candidates.
Writing a complete and professional LinkedIn profile is a critical part of applying
for a job online. In order to make the most out of LinkedIn’s tools and services,
your first step should be to
strengthen your profile page and create what LinkedIn
calls an “All-Star Profile.”
Earn the All-Star LinkedIn profile status by completing the following:
- Add your industry and location
- Add dates to your work experience
- Upload a profile photo
- Add your most recent position and job description
- Add employment dates to your Experience section
- Fill out the Education section
- Add at least 5 skills to the Skills & Endorsements section
- Add a LinkedIn summary
- Connect with at least 50 other professionals on LinkedIn
Whether you’re writing your LinkedIn profile for the first time or trying to improve the
visibility of your existing profile, completely these steps will increase the likelihood that
you appear in LinkedIn search results.
LinkedIn Profile Optimization
Successfully optimizing your LinkedIn profile means cultivating a professional online persona that is easily found by recruiters searching for your skills or experience. After filling out every profile section to the best of your ability, take the next step by optimizing your LinkedIn profile by strategically including hard skills and keywords into high impact sections of your profile.
LINKEDIN SKILLS AND KEYWORDS
LinkedIn profile skills and keyword examples include:
- Successful experience in sales, project management, or email marketing
- Accrued knowledge in search engine optimization (SEO) or generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
These keywords are search terms likely to be used by recruiters in your industry and other users searching for your expertise. Without the right keywords, it is unlikely that someone will find you among the 500 million other LinkedIn profiles.
SKILLS & ENDORSEMENTS SECTION
The most obvious place to start adding your top skills is the Skills & Endorsements section towards the bottom of your profile. This will help you organize your skills while allowing your connections to provide validation by endorsing your skills.
That said, the Skills & Endorsements section isn’t actually the most important place for you to add skills. Counterintuitively, when it comes to a recruiter’s search results, the most impactful places to seed your top skills and keywords are your headline, summary (about), and work experience.
WHY IT MATTERS: RECRUITERS AND LINKEDIN SEARCH
94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source or vet job candidates. In order to rank highly in a recruiter’s LinkedIn Search, your LinkedIn profile should be optimized with both LinkedIn’s technology and recruiter tendencies in mind. LinkedIn’s proprietary search algorithms consider a variety of profile sections to rank their results while recruiters have their own preferences and tricks to compile lists of top candidates.
To increase your chances of being a top result in a recruiter’s LinkedIn search, your hard skills and keywords should be placed into the fields LinkedIn’s search algorithm values the most. These include:
- Past and present job titles
- Profile Summary or About section
- Work experience
The keywords added to your Skills & Endorsements section also contribute to LinkedIn search results but are not weighted as heavily.
Recruiters also use filters and Boolean searches to narrow down the number of candidates in their searches. Ensuring that your work experience, education, location, and other LinkedIn profile fields are complete and up to date can keep you from being filtered out of a recruiter’s profile search.
LinkedIn profile search results in LinkedIn Recruiter. Headlines and job titles
are displayed. Results can be filtered by specific job titles, location, veteran
status, and seniority, among other methods.
Writing a LinkedIn Headline
Your LinkedIn profile headline is your first opportunity to tell others what you
have to offer. Whether it’s being read by a professional connection, potential sales
lead, or prospective employer, your LinkedIn Profile headline is incredibly important
to making a positive initial impression.
The LinkedIn profile headline is also one of the most important fields when it comes
to LinkedIn Search. In order to show up in recruiters’ Boolean searches,
writing an optimized LinkedIn headline is a top priority. By default, LinkedIn makes
your current job title and company your headline, for example “Web Developer at ABC Company.”
Edit it at the top of your profile page to create a more impactful headline.You have 120
characters to work with in your LinkedIn headline. This is plenty of room to include
the default information along with other details that help you stand out and show up
in search results. Instead of just “Web Developer at ABC Company,” a headline could read:
Web Developer at ABC Company | Full Stack Engineer | Front End Specialist | HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap, JQuery, PHP
Not only does this 111 character headline include the user’s current position and company,
it also expands on the user’s skill set, specialization, plus a few specific hard
skills that a recruiter or other user might input into LinkedIn Search. Your headline
should tell other LinkedIn users what you have to offer and how you’d like your
career to grow in the future whether or not you’re actively job searching.
Writing a LinkedIn Profile Summary or About Section
Below your profile photo, name, and headline is your
LinkedIn profile summary, also known as the About section. This
section is underutilized or left blank by many LinkedIn users but serves as your
introduction to anyone visiting your profile. With 2,000 characters to work with,
the profile summary section gives you plenty of room to convey information that
might not fit elsewhere in your profile.
Here are some top tips for writing an impactful summary.
DETERMINE YOUR AUDIENCE
Before you begin writing your summary, take a moment to consider your audience and goals.
The tone, language, or calls to action you include in your profile summary will depend
on who you’re trying to reach.
If you’ve been applying for jobs online, your audience is a hiring manager
following up on your application.
If you’re looking for the next step in your career, your audience includes
recruiters using LinkedIn Search.
If LinkedIn is a source of sales and partnerships for you, your audience is a
potential new client.
If you’re eager to become known as an expert in your field, your audience
is other ambitious members of your industry.
Clarifying your goals and audience beforehand helps lay down some guidelines before you begin writing.
OPTIMIZE FOR SEARCH ENGINES
With 2,000 characters at your disposal in the LinkedIn profile summary, work in as many job or
industry-specific hard skills and keywords as possible. This will help you appear higher in
LinkedIn searches by recruiters interested in what you have to offer. Analyze relevant job
descriptions or the profiles of successful industry peers to come up with a list of keywords
and phrases that recruiters are likely to search. You can incorporate these into your LinkedIn
Profile. Jobscan’s LinkedIn Optimization tool puts a percentage on your optimization level
and provides a list of important terms once your profile written.
LinkedIn Search works similarly to
applicant tracking systems, so being cognizant of potential search keywords
and phrases as you’re writing is important. Once your profile is live on LinkedIn
you can see the keyword searches being used to find your profile.
Navigate to your LinkedIn profile dashboard underneath and click “Search
Appearances.” Below is an example of a live dashboard on Linkedin:
Using the correct terms and keywords in your LinkedIn profile will ensure your “Search Appearances” in LinkedIn Search are accurate and relevant to the goal of your LinkedIn profile.
TELL YOUR STORY
Your headline provides a snapshot of what you have to offer and your experience tells
readers where you’ve been; the summary is your opportunity to contextualize it all
within your personal story. This is your chance to directly address visitors of your
profile and let them know why they should want you in their professional network.
Some examples of what your LinkedIn profile summary can include:
Guiding principles (“I believe that the only way to stay relevant is
to keep learning, so every week I strive to pick up at least one new
technique that I can work into my marketing strategy“)
The reasons you’re passionate about your job or industry
(“After feeling stuck for years in a dead end job, becoming a
technical recruiter has given me the satisfaction of helping others
find their dream jobs“)
Career ambitions (“This experience has helped me toward my
ultimate goal of being the CTO of a successful civic tech startup.“)
The summary is your chance to show that you’re not just mindlessly going from one opportunity to the next. Instead, show that you’re constantly learning and progressing towards your ultimate vision.
SHOW OFF YOUR PERSONALITY
The summary is your best opportunity to loosen up and show off your personality within your LInkedIn profile. Allow the reader to get an idea of what it’s like to be around you. This might help out a hiring manager trying to determine office culture fit, a prospective client or partner deciding whether they want to work directly with you, or a LinkedIn user who is considering following you. Briefly write about your hobbies, values, and off-the-clock accomplishments. These minor details help paint a more complete picture of who you are and can often reinforce your professional skills and accomplishments. For example, mentioning that you hiked the entire Appalachian Trail shows off your toughness and persistence, two qualities you may also want to be known for professionally.
Writing Your Work Experience
The work experience section of your LinkedIn profile is similar to your paper
resume but offers more room to expand on each position. List your complete work
history and be sure to write a description for each entry. To add a new job to
your profile, click the plus sign (+) at the top of the Experience section. When
adding a new job, be sure to select the company from LinkedIn’s suggestions rather
than just typing it in. This will include you with other employees on the LinkedIn
company page and allow recruiters to find you when they filter by company.
Here are some tips for writing a great Experience section.
ADD DETAILS TO THE JOB TITLE
Much like the LinkedIn headline, simply typing your job title into the job title field
-- e.g. “Accountant” -- is a wasted opportunity. The work experience job title fields
are weighted heavily in LinkedIn Search and allow you to type up to 100 characters.
Instead of just “Accountant,” a more effective job title would be something like:
Accountant - CPA, Budget Forecasting, Financial Statement Analysis
This still shows that the user was an accountant, but also highlights their specialities and areas of focus while adding search terms to a high-impact field.
KEYWORDS AND MEASURABLE RESULTS
As you detail your core responsibilities, focus your attention on including search optimized
keywords and measurable results. Adding keywords specific to the job and your skill set will
help you appear higher in LinkedIn search results. Once a recruiter finds you in search,
measurable results add legitimacy to your claims. Recruiters are less interested in what
you say you can do compared to what you’ve actually accomplished. Show that you have
the skills by listing the accomplishments that came as a result. For example, if
“growth hacking” is one of your skills, discuss some of the specific methods you
used and measurable results from a successful campaign.
WHICH JOBS TO LEAVE OFF YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE
Being labeled as a “job hopper” can cause you to miss out on career opportunities. It’s expensive and time-consuming to hire and onboard a new employee, so companies often avoid candidates with several short-lived jobs on their profile. If you have short-term jobs in your work experience, consider leaving them off your profile page entirely. If they were short-term by design, such as temp or contract work, label them as such in the job title section. For example: “Project Manager (5-month contact).”
If you’re actively applying for jobs, be sure that your LinkedIn profile work experience matches what’s on your resume. If you left a job off your resume because it is irrelevant to your career goals, was short-lived, or is not something you wish to discuss in a job interview, delete it from your LinkedIn profile work experience as well.
Writing Your Education Section
If your formal education feels like ancient history or your degree isn’t relevant to your career, you might be tempted to leave it off your LinkedIn profile. At a minimum, be sure to list all the schools you attended and degrees you earned. This is important for two primary reasons: networking and search filtering.
When browsing open jobs on LinkedIn, information about your network is displayed at the top of job listings. One of the insights you’re likely to see is how many alums work at the company. Clicking on the link produces a list of LinkedIn users that went to your school. Using your alma mater as an ice breaker, you might be able to contact someone at the hiring company and get a leg up on the competition. Additionally, a hiring manager or recruiter might be biased in your favor after seeing that you went to their school.
When recruiters search LinkedIn, they have a number of filtering options to narrow their search, including location, past companies, and education. If it’s part of the job requirements for the position they’re filling, they’re likely to set a filter based on education so that they only see candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If you’ve had a successful career as a software developer despite being an art history major in college, failing to include your degree on your LinkedIn profile could exclude you from recruiter searches.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few more ways to increase the impact of your LinkedIn profile.
TAKE A GREAT PROFILE PICTURE
It’s normal to have a casual or funny profile picture on some social networks, but professionalism is key on LinkedIn. This is especially important if you’re applying for jobs or attracting recruiters. Your profile picture should not be a blurry candid, overly casual, or feature other people or animals. A hiring manager or recruiter may make sweeping professional judgements based on your bad profile picture. If you don’t put any effort into your profile picture, they won’t expect that you’ll put effort into the job.
How to take a professional LinkedIn profile picture
- Dress like you would for a job interview
- Stand in front of a background that is plain, bright, and isn’t distracting
- Make sure you’re well lit. Natural lighting is best
- Have someone take the photo for you (although selfies are OK if the angle is straight on and your arm isn’t in the photo)
CREATE A VANITY URL
The default URL that comes with your LinkedIn account is made up of your first and last names then a string of random numbers and letters. It’s difficult to share with people. You can customize your URL from LinkedIn’s Public Profile Settings page. Create a custom URL that includes your name separated by dashes, such as:
A customized URL is easier to remember and tell people, plus it looks cleaner when printed on a business card or resume.
INCREASE YOUR NUMBER OF CONNECTIONS
When someone performs a search on LinkedIn, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree
connections appear higher in the results than out-of-network users.
Each new 1st degree connection you make increases your number of 2nd and 3rd
degree connections exponentially. Connecting with people on LinkedIn increases your chances of becoming a 2nd
or 3rd degree connection of a recruiter who is searching for your skill set.
Posting relevant links and interesting updates to the LinkedIn newsfeed is a great way to engage your peers and increase the visibility of your LinkedIn profile.
Your posts won’t automatically go out to all of your connections. When you publish an
update, LinkedIn’s newsfeed algorithm judges your post to determine whether it is
quality content or spam. If it passes, your post then gets shared with a small
segment of your connections. Whether or not your LinkedIn post spreads to a bigger audience
is based on engagement. The more clicks, likes, and comments your post gets, the more
1st and 2nd degree connections it will reach. With this in mind, always be sure that
the content you’re sharing is genuinely useful to your connections. You can also
drive engagement by asking questions and creating a dialogue.
Accomplishing Your Goals on LinkedIn
What are you trying to accomplish by using LinkedIn? The way you fill out your profile and interact with the website should be different based on your goals. LinkedIn users can log in to find a new job, grow their professional network for business opportunities, or simply use their LinkedIn profile to keep up with industry news and discussions.
Finding a Job with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a go-to source for job seekers for three reasons: LinkedIn Job Search, contact networking,
and as a platform to interact with recruiters. At
LinkedIn.com/jobs, you can search jobs posted
on LinkedIn by job title, keyword, company, and/or location. Once you search, a number of filters
are available to help you narrow your search. Click on a job for additional details and options.
Inside a job listing you can review the job description, learn about the company, browse their
employees, save a job for later, or take the next step in your application. Some jobs allow you
to apply with LinkedIn “Easy Apply,” while most take you to a different application website.
Before clicking “Easy Apply," be sure to
optimize your LinkedIn profile for the job.
You can also have LinkedIn curate potential jobs for you by selecting
the “Career interests” button on the main LinkedIn.com/jobs screen.
Here you can specify a variety of job titles, locations, industries, and other details that are of interest to you in your job search. Saving these preferences will cause LinkedIn to collect applicable jobs and display them below the search bar on LinkedIn.com/jobs.
Most jobs aren’t found by applying to a job online. 70% or more of jobs are found via recruiters or personal networks. By checking the “Let recruiters know you’re open” button in the “Career Interests settings,” you can discreetly signal to recruiters that you’re looking for a new job. Most recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidates to fill open positions.
LinkedIn users often share job postings from their company or use LinkedIn to make recommendations or introductions. Building a robust LinkedIn network can expose you to jobs you might not have found on your own.
Building Your Professional Network
Using LinkedIn to grow and cultivate your professional network has benefits beyond finding a new job or simply keeping in touch with your peers and former colleagues. Depending on your business, your LinkedIn network can be used to create sales leads, forge partnerships, and/or establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
In general, the more quality connections you have on LinkedIn, the better. You can benefit from connecting with a diverse group of people including:
- Personal friends and acquaintances
- Current and former colleagues and business contacts
- Industry peers you haven’t met yet
- Industry influencers and power users
Building a large network on LinkedIn enables outreach to more LinkedIn users. Every new connection you make is labeled a 1st degree connection. The connections of your connections are known as 2nd degree connections. You can directly connect with 2nd degree connections or contact them through LinkedIn’s messaging feature, InMail. LinkedIn restricts communication with users outside of your 1st and 2nd degree networks, so the more 1st degree connections you have, the more LinkedIn users you can reach.
When you first sign up for an account, LinkedIn will ask you if you’d like to import your email contact list for an initial list of suggested connections. Once you’re all set up, you can find more suggestions under the Network tab. You can also connect with other users by going to their profile page. A “Connect” button will either appear under their profile picture or in the “...” dropdown menu at the top of their profile.
Send a personalized note with your connection request to make a good impression and
increase your chances of having it accepted. Mention where you met the user or a
mutually beneficial reason you’d like to connect is a great way to break the ice.
Keeping Up to Date with Your Industry
LinkedIn is a great place to collect new ideas for your line of work and stay current with industry trends.
LinkedIn automatically adds relevant articles to your newsfeed based on your industry and location. Engage your peers by posting updates and asking questions or commenting on other users’ posts. This will not only help you gain insight on what is and isn’t working in your industry, but can put you on the path to becoming known as an active and influential member of your industry.
Rather than trying to connect with high-profile influencers, there is also a “Follow” option. Following a LinkedIn user allows you to see their posts, shared links, and some of their commenting activity. Influencers and power users not only post original insights, but tend to be curators of relevant content and facilitators of interesting discussions.
Your Optimized LinkedIn Profile
Linkedin a powerful tool for professional networking, advancing your standing within your industry, and active or passive job searching. Being thorough and thoughtful as you fill out each profile section will create greater visibility and attract opportunities to your LinkedIn profile.
Appear higher in LinkedIn Search by optimizing your LinkedIn profile with Jobscan.