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LINKEDIN PROFILE WRITING GUIDE

Jobscan's guide to everything you need to know about LinkedIn in order to stand out to recruiters and make it past LinkedIn Search algorithms



What is a LinkedIn Profile?

LinkedIn is an online social network like Facebook or Twitter, but dedicated to professional networking and communication. A LinkedIn user’s profile page is similar to an online resume. Users can share their contact information, career summary, complete work history, professional skills, formal education details, and more. LinkedIn is primarily used to network with professional connections but has evolved over time to a job search platform for recruiters looking for candidates and job applicants browsing available positions. Navigating LinkedIn and creating the best LinkedIn profile possible can be a bit daunting, but following these writing guide steps to create an optimized and interesting LinkedIn profile is easy.

Getting Started on LinkedIn

To create an account, go to LinkedIn.com, fill out your name and email address, and create a password. Click “Join Now.” LinkedIn will then ask a series of questions to setup your account.

Location: Enter your Country and Zip Code. This information helps LinkedIn curate jobs local to you and news articles trending in your area.

Are You a Student?: If you’re a student, LinkedIn has you fill out your current a school and graduation date. If not, you enter your most recent position and company.

What Are You Most Interested In?: Specifying whether you’re looking for a job, keeping in touch with contacts, building your professional network, or keeping up with your industry allows LinkedIn to tailor the rest of the setup experience. For example, if you’re primarily using LinkedIn for your job search, LinkedIn will ask you to set up alerts for relevant jobs in your area.

Import Contacts: By linking your email account with LinkedIn you can see which of your contacts already have LinkedIn profiles. Sending connection invitations to your existing contacts is a great way to build the foundation of your LinkedIn network.

Profile Photo: Upload a professional headshot that is representative of your career goals.

Select Topics that Interest You: Selecting industries and topics about which you’d like to read helps LinkedIn curate content for your newsfeed.

At this point you can begin interacting with your connections, searching for jobs, and reading articles related to your industry.

How to Write a LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn profiles are central to current 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 completely fill out your profile page and create what LinkedIn calls an “All-Star Profile.”

profile strength

Earn the All-Star status by completing the following:

According to LinkedIn, pursuing an All-Star Profile will “improve the discoverability of your profile in search results and increase profile search appearances.” Once you have those bases covered, optimizing certain profile sections can further help increase your LinkedIn profile views, attention from recruiters, and overall impact.

LinkedIn Optimization

Successfully optimizing your LinkedIn profile means cultivating a professional online persona that is easily found by recruiters looking for your skills or experience. After filling out every profile section to the best of your ability, optimize your LinkedIn profile by strategically including hard skills and keywords into high impact sections of your profile, such as your headline, profile summary, and work experience.

HARD SKILLS AND KEYWORDS

Successfully optimizing your LinkedIn profile means cultivating a professional online persona that is easily found by recruiters looking for your skills or experience. After filling out every profile section to the best of your ability, optimize your LinkedIn profile by strategically including hard skills and keywords into high impact sections of your profile, such as your headline, profile summary, and work experience.

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.

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 written 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. Recruiters also 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 your headline, past and present job titles, profile summary, and work experience. 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 information are complete and up to date can keep you from being filtered out of a recruiter’s profile search.

linkedin-recruiter-search-tool
LinkedIn profile search for “Web” and “Developer” in LinkedIn Recruiter. Headlines, current job title, and past job titles are displayed. The results are filtered by location and experience level.

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 skillset, 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

Below your profile photo, name, and headline is your LinkedIn profile summary. 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 is a 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 into your summary 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 for.

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 are 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“), or your 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 a 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 experience, 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 measureable results. Adding keywords specific to the job and your skillset 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 measureable 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.

NETWORKING

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.

SEARCH FILTERING

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)

bad-versus-good-linkedin-picture

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:

  • linkedin.com/in/john-doe
  • linkedin.com/in/john-doe-houston
  • linkedin.com/in/john-doe-project-manager

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. This increases your chances of becoming a 2nd or 3rd degree connection of a recruiter who is searching for your skillset.

SHARE CONTENT

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.

linkedin-share-content

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 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 connection. 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

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.

You can also have LinkedIn curate potential jobs for you by selecting the “Career interests settings” button on the main LinkedIn.com/jobs screen.

career-interest-in-linkedin

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.

 how-to-linkedin-connect

Send a personalized note with your connection request to increase your chances of having it accepted, and making a good impression. 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.







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