Your LinkedIn profile is your professional online presence and an essential tool for networking and job searching. However, with millions of users on the platform, it can be challenging to stand out and make a lasting impression.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is crucial to increase your visibility and appeal to potential connections or employers when searching for a new job. By highlighting your skills, experience, and accomplishments, you can showcase your value and differentiate yourself from other candidates. With the right strategy, you can leverage the power of your LinkedIn account to advance your career and connect with industry leaders.
In this ultimate guide, we will take you through the process of optimizing your LinkedIn profile and help you make the most out of this powerful platform.
What is an optimized LinkedIn profile?
An optimized LinkedIn profile is a well-crafted and complete profile that highlights your skills, experience, and accomplishments in a way that makes you stand out to potential employers or professional connections. It showcases your value, professional brand, and differentiates you from other candidates.
It includes a professional headshot, a compelling summary, detailed work experience and skills, education, and any other relevant information that showcases your qualifications and achievements. It's also active and updated regularly with recent work experience, education, skills, and achievements, and has a good number of connections.
An optimized LinkedIn profile can increase your maximum exposure and visibility and make it more likely that hiring managers and recruiters find you when searching for potential candidates.
How do I optimize my LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn is known as the premier social media and networking platform for your career. Whether you are a job seeker, career changer, or someone looking to grow yourself in your career, it's important to make sure your profile presents you in the best way possible for the types of opportunities and employers you want to attract either now or down the road.
Here are some of our best tips on impactful things you can do today to make sure your LinkedIn profile helps the right people find you.
Treat your profile like a resume
The first mistake most people make when it comes to their LinkedIn profile is treating it like other casual social networking sites. This is a big mistake in more ways than one. For starters, you definitely don’t want to come across as casual and vague when a prospective recruiter or employer takes a look at your LinkedIn profile. Also, many profiles don’t have the job seeker’s contact information, which is a big no-no.
The layout of a LinkedIn profile is structured similarly to a resume, which basically means your profile acts as your online resume. When you treat it like one and fill it out properly, you’re more likely to pop up in the first few pages of LinkedIn search results. A good profile can also help you impress people and help expand your professional networking efforts.
Upload a professional profile picture
Investing in a good profile photo makes sense since your photo is your first chance to show your professional brand visually. You want to wear attire that shows you as the professional you want to portray to your LinkedIn network and relevant industries/companies.
You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on a professional photo with the available features on many smartphones and cameras today, such as the ability to take portrait shots where the background is blurred out.
The ideal size of a LinkedIn profile picture is 400 x 400 pixels. For the photo to look professional, choose a plain background and make sure your face fits 60% of the frame. You should crop the photo from the top of your shoulders to just above your head so that it looks like a headshot.
Use soft natural lighting and avoid photos that look like selfies. Have someone take the photo for you or set a timer. Avoid photos that show you from far away, have busy backgrounds, or where you are not making direct eye contact with the camera. Your facial expression should be smiling to show that you are someone who is friendly, trustworthy, and likable.
Plan your background image (profile banner)
You want to use a background photo (or banner image) that will compliment your headshot photo and not compete with it. You want to think about how the design theme, color, and look of the banner matches the style of your profile picture. The banner should be sized for 1584 px x 396 px in file formats JPG, PNG, or GIF.
Write a compelling, impactful, and keyword rich headline
Your LinkedIn profile headline is what sets you apart from other job seekers in the social media cluster. It is tied to its search algorithm and is one of the most visible sections of your profile. Not only should your LinkedIn headline show your professional expertise, but it should also contain specific keywords that will help you appear higher in LinkedIn searches by recruiters or hiring managers.
The keywords you choose for your headline should be relevant and important to your job function, expertise, and/or industry; and your headline can maximize the 220 character limit if needed. Your headline should also illustrate the value you bring to the table. Here are a couple examples of LinkedIn headlines that are optimized for keywords:
- Marketing Director | Social Media Expert | Customer Engagement & Retention | Passionate About Mission Focused Brands & Companies
- Product Management Leader in the SaaS Space | Define Product Vision to Drive Revenue and Deliver Value to Customers
Here are a few tips for writing a successful profile headline:
- Describe what you do, your work experience, and your goals
- Keep it simple and keyword-rich
- Keep the tone professional
- Avoid using overused buzzwords in your profile description
- Make your professional story informative, engaging, and simple
You have to sketch an ideal picture of who you are and what you can offer your clients in just 220 characters, so aim to be straight to the point. If you have someone at your company who is on the ball with social selling, take a quick look at their profile headlines for inspiration.
There is not one perfect way to write a headline, but keep these tips in mind as you think about the best way to showcase your professional brand to the audience you want to target.
Here is a great example of a strong LinkedIn profile photo, banner, and headline:
Write a killer LinkedIn summary
One of the most underused sections of a LinkedIn profile is the "About" section. The average LinkedIn user will just throw in a line or two and call it a day. This is a complete waste of one of the most important sections of a LinkedIn profile.
The "About" section of your profile has to be a hit. Consider this section of your profile as the product you want to sell to your potential employers. This is the first impression that will set the tone for the rest of your profile. If your LinkedIn summary is weak, a prospective recruiter/employer won’t bother to scroll down to check the rest of the profile.
A professional-looking "About" section should be detailed but compact. Make sure to not turn it into an essay that no one will want to read, as most people skim summaries anyways. Keep the tone and language engaging and use relevant industry jargon as necessary. Make sure to provide a brief rundown of your main technical skills if applicable.
The main point of writing a solid profile summary is personal branding for yourself and show that you're fully engaged in building your career path. To learn how to write a good one, check articles, results of top LinkedIn profiles in your industry, social media posts, and more.
In the detailed 2,000-character description, you can break your content into the following:
- Hook your audience right away and make your first sentence count by showing passion and revealing your character
- A professional introduction explaining your present role and framing your past job titles
- Highlight your successes and the services you can offer to potential clients
- Call to action
- Your contact information
Highlight your work experiences
The "Work Experience" section of the LinkedIn profile isn’t something that is ignored by most LinkedIn users; on the contrary, in most cases, it’s the only section most people bother to fill out. The only problem? Most LinkedIn users just fill in the barebones details such as tenure, name of the company, and location, which doesn’t say much.
The experience section carries great importance once you have successfully grasped the attention of your potential recruiter. In this category, you have to boast about your success and work experiences. Make this section of your profile comprehensive.
To make your profile stand out, what you need to do is flesh out each entry you make in the LinkedIn experience section. Fill in details about your responsibilities, the skills you learned, major projects, etc. Summarize all your achievements and include all the experiences that have made you grow both in your professional and personal capacity. These details can tell a lot about a person and definitely something that a good human resources officer or employer will take note of when going through your profile.
If you are currently employed, keep your description detailed and updated. Recruiters are most interested in your current role. If you are a fresh graduate, state all your project works, volunteer work, and internships.
Make sure to include metrics in your descriptions for each role. Metrics help build proof that you have those abilities. Try this simple formula for success when writing about your achievements for each role: success verb + noun + metric + outcome.
Within Teal's AI Resume Builder is an Achievement Assistant tool created to help you write impactful, metric-driven achievements.
Be strategic with job titles in the “Experience” section
LinkedIn uses job titles as a way to help recruiters or hiring managers find you. Both your current and previous job titles are weighted heavily by LinkedIn's algorithm when a recruiter or hiring manager searches to find candidates.
The job title field allows up to 100 characters, so if your actual job title does not reflect the right keywords that a recruiter might search, you can include descriptive words next to the title.
For example, if you worked at a startup where your job title might not match the types of jobs you are targeting, you can either change it (if appropriate) or you can add a descriptor next to it that is more widely known for that type of job position. This way, you can ensure that your LinkedIn profile will come up in a search for a particular job title.
Here is an example of how to add relevant keywords to your job title:
Showcase your educational background
Adding your education to your LinkedIn profile can be beneficial for several reasons. First, it demonstrates your qualifications and gives potential employers or connections an idea of your educational background and level of expertise.
It can also help to establish credibility and make you more likely to be considered for job opportunities that require specific educational credentials. You should always list your highest level of qualification.
Additionally, it can also help to connect you with alumni from your educational institutions and expand your professional network. The larger your network, the more opportunities you will be exposed to and have access to. Networking is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door for opportunities that excite you.
Listing your education on your LinkedIn profile page also allows you to showcase any degrees, certifications, and awards you've earned, which can help you to stand out from other job candidates in recruiters' searches. Make sure to throw in keywords to this section to make yourself easier to find.
During your profile optimization, keep this section professional by including schools/colleges/universities that relate to your job title and industry and show your specific qualifications.
Maximize the skills and endorsements section
The next section is where you list all the skills you have mastered. LinkedIn allows you to include up to 50 skills on your profile. State all the skills, even the ones outside your professional practices. This is an easy way to build your personal brand and engage your network.
When you add skills to your profile, your first degree connections can “endorse” you for skills that will actually help the strength of your profile. It will allow you to be discovered for opportunities that are related to those skills.
If you are in a job search, review the top keywords (soft and hard skills) that are listed in the job descriptions that you are targeting and make sure to add those to your skills section. Ask people in your network to endorse you for those top skills, as well, to help you come up higher in searches by employers. You can also “pin” your top 3 skills to the very top of your Skills & Endorsements section in a subsection titled Top Skills.
Add all the relevant certifications you have earned. This makes you more visible as hiring managers may search for candidates with certain certifications and skills. It also helps increase LinkedIn ranking. If you are associated with any non-profit programs, be sure to include these under volunteer experience.
What kind of skills should I include?
Throughout your educational and work experiences, you've gained numerous relevant skills across different domains. You'll want to include both hard skills and soft skills into this section.
Here are some examples of hard skills you could include:
- Information Technology skills: cloud computing, coding, blockchain, software engineering, etc.
- Business skills: business development, economics, business analysis, administration, business management, etc.
- Management skills: project management, delegating tasks, coaching, strategic planning, relationship management, etc.
- Analytical skills: data analysis, critical thinking, research, consulting, etc.
- Marketing skills: content marketing, SEO, market research, social media, channel marketing, affiliate marketing, etc.
Here are some examples of soft skills you could include:
- Time Management
- Problem Solving
- Emotional Intelligence
- Critical Thinking
- Interpersonal skills
Use Teal’s Skills Database in the free Skills Workbook to identify your current skills and potential skills that you want to acquire. Once you've identified those, enter them into Teal’s Skills Identifier.
Post and share relevant content
Most LinkedIn users believe that their LinkedIn profile is not to be used as a social network sharing platform. In most cases, your profile may not influence your appearance, but what you post increases your chances of being noticed online.
Optimizing your profile to grow your professional visibility can help bring recruiters and hiring managers to you. But, the kind of content you share matters: make sure to only search and share content that resonates with your profession. The LinkedIn analytic tool can give you insights on:
- Who reviews your content
- What content is the most relevant for you
- The comments, impressions, shares, and views across your articles and posts.
What kind of content to post
There are several types of interesting content that you can post on LinkedIn to increase your visibility and engagement on the platform. Some examples include:
- Professional updates: Share updates about your work, such as new projects, promotions, product launches and feature enhancements, or company wins and milestones.
- Industry insights: Share your knowledge and insights about your industry, including news articles, research, or opinion pieces.
- Personal branding content: Share content that showcases your personality, interests, and values. This can include blog posts, videos, or infographics.
- Thought leadership: Share your thoughts and ideas on current trends and topics in your industry.
- Networking: Connect with other professionals in your industry and participate in groups and discussions to expand your network.
- Career-related content: Share job postings, career-related articles, and tips on how to improve your job search.
- Testimonials and Recommendations: Share testimonials and recommendations from colleagues, customers, or clients, to showcase your skills and experience.
Not everything you share on your profile requires a lengthy, wordy post. You can utilize different types of posts. Here are a few examples:
- Videos/images with catchy text
- Carousel posts
- LinkedIn Live events
It's important to note that, when posting content on LinkedIn, you should make sure that it aligns with your professional brand, and that you post regularly to maintain engagement with your audience. Read more from Influencer Marketing Hub about the best times to post on your LinkedIn profile.
Don't forget to use LinkedIn SEO
Making your LinkedIn profile stand out is all about how you use it! It might surprise you, but LinkedIn also has its own search engine optimization (SEO) ecosystem that differs from regular SEO.
By using the right words and phrases, you can boost your profile's ranking in search results. The higher your profile appears, the more likely people are to check it out! It's like putting your best foot forward, making sure that recruiters and hiring managers can find you easily when they're searching for potential candidates. It's simple and easy to do, and it can make a big difference in your job search.
This is why it’s important that you learn about the relevant LinkedIn SEO practice and use relevant words in your profile. These keywords can pertain to skills, industry, brand, opportunities, tools, and more.
An easy way to find the most common keywords is to find tags in the search filter options. You should also use relevant hashtags in your posts, as well. Using those words in your profile will easily place you in the top results.
Having recommendations on your LinkedIn profile
To praise or recognize the services of others, LinkedIn members write recommendations for businesses, employees, or colleagues. People who visit your profile look for recommendations to make an informed decision about you.
It is suggested that you request recommendations by approaching your company, supervisor, or co-worker to endorse you with a well-written recommendation. This will help build your potential client’s confidence in you. Even better, write recommendations for people in your network. More often than not, they will return the favor and write you one as well.
Customize your LinkedIn profile URL
There are millions of profiles on LinkedIn and, naturally, several other people who have the same profession as well as your first name. To make it easier to be found in a recruiters' search, customize your LinkedIn URL with your last name and possibly some other words related to your industry. For SEO optimization, it is ideal to have your first or last name included in the customized URL.
If you are not familiar with the settings, simply go to your profile settings and select “Edit public profile and URL.” Here you can click on the pencil icon and change your profile URL to something personal and cleaner that makes it easy to find you.
Watch this video for a step by step guide to creating a custom URL.
Invite new opportunities
If you leave your profile idly lying around, it’s highly unlikely other people will take initiative to connect with you or reach out for new opportunities. Your profile should show that you’re receptive and welcoming to new opportunities as a potential candidate to get noticed.
One easy way to do this is to use the #OpenToWork banner on your profile picture which is highlighted heavily, making it easier for people to notice you.
What does an optimized LinkedIn profile look like?
Here are a few examples of strong, optimized LinkedIn profiles:
How to optimize LinkedIn profile the easy way
A great way to check your LinkedIn profile is to download Teal’s Free Chrome Extension which includes an automated LinkedIn Profile Review. Once you install the extension, just go to your profile page and click on the Teal logo. You’ll see a list of recommendations on how best to optimize your profile and can make updates as needed.
Now that you know these actionable tips to help you with your LinkedIn profile optimization, head over to your LinkedIn profile and start making these changes today. Teal offers classes, events, and other resources that will help you continue to learn how to present your personal brand on LinkedIn to attract the right people to reach your career goals.