Is your LinkedIn Profile ready to support your goals?
An engaging, personally branded LinkedIn Profile is no longer optional; it’s CRUCIAL to your professional success.
No matter if you’re seeking the perfect job or just keeping your options open, it’s important to present a strong and compelling story that attracts employers.
Here’s what you need to do NOW in order to get your LinkedIn Profile to work harder for your job search:
1 – Develop (and stick to) a LinkedIn engagement strategy.
Ever wonder why you see some LinkedIn users in your feed ALL the time?
It’s because LinkedIn rewards users who comment on and share content! That’s why they’re popping up in your feed with a highly visible presence.
Interaction and engagement (such as comments, posts, polls, and articles) can raise your visibility – enabling employers to become more aware of you and colleagues to start featuring you on their posts.
It’s easy to create an engagement strategy like this for yourself by committing to spending a few minutes on the site each day: first, note activity related to your professional interests, then post a comment.
Are You Making the Top LinkedIn Mistakes in Your Job Search? points out how you can use engagement to stand out among competing job hunters and become more widely known as a thought leader.
2 – Follow ideal employers on LinkedIn.
When you follow companies on LinkedIn, you get a front-row seat to their announcements, including information on new divisions, company updates, and job openings.
As an added bonus, the company will notice you are among their followers if you decide to apply to their LinkedIn Job postings – which quickly indicates your interest in what they do and could signal your intent to become a top employee.
3 – Fill in your Experience section – PLEASE.
Employers overwhelmingly prefer to read this part of your Profile, so don’t neglect it. Listing only your job titles, employer names, and dates WON’T cut it.
In The majority of recruiters read the LinkedIn Profile experience section first, so make it shine, career coach and LinkedIn trainer Bob McIntosh of Things Career Related has compiled some eye-opening recruiter and career expert insights you’ll want to read.
Start updating your Experience by adding accomplishments, keywords, and context that aligns with desirable skills in your field (as described by Korn Ferry in 5 End-of-Year Moves to Boost Your Career). Describe the top successes of your career (don’t save them for the resume!). You might see a strong uptick in LinkedIn viewers and employer interest as a result.
4 – Swap out your Cover Image (behind your headshot).
Instead of the default, bland cover image provided by LinkedIn, add some color to your Profile by adding a photo or illustration aligned with your industry and personal brand. Take a look at the difference between the original cover image (left) and how you could alter it (right).
For example, a technology leader could find an image representing the speed of technical connections or a city with apparent Wifi hotspots shown on it. A creative professional could either build a new graphic image showing their interests, or find an illustration showing the phases of creative work.
You can find new images for your Cover Photo that fit the horizontal image requirements at sites like Canva.com, Big Stock Photo, Dreamstime, or Pexels – most of which offer free or reduced-price downloads.
5 – Pick up a valuable new skill using LinkedIn Learning.
Just like other professional training programs, you can complete LinkedIn Learning courses (free to Premium users) and show this knowledge on your Profile.
The only problem you might have? Selecting the courses you want from the more than 5,000 LinkedIn Learning entries in categories such as Leadership and Management, Professional Development, Human Resources, Sales, and much more.
LinkedIn Learning courses will be shown on your Profile after completion, with an entry in Licenses and Certifications. So not only can you pick up more valuable skills, you can also “advertise” them to employers as part of your qualifications.
6 – Adjust your LinkedIn Settings – frequently.
There are now 200+ Settings for your Profile! Take the time to ensure you’re using them wisely; most are located under your avatar, where you can choose Settings & Privacy.
For example, you can choose to openly show your Profile updates or activity, display your email address, let others know when you’re active on LinkedIn, or hide your last name. MANY of these Settings can make finding your Profile difficult.
Tune important Settings such as those for creating a public Profile (visible by search engines), showing your activity (important if you’re engaging in industry discussions), and other elements key to your job search. Don’t forget to click on your LinkedIn headshot to verify that others can see it.
If employers can’t find information on your background, they might pass you up. For more insights, see Serious LinkedIn Mistakes Making You Harder to Find.
7 – Actively comment and customize your feed on LinkedIn.
As mentioned in #1, a commenting strategy will benefit you as a job seeker, especially when you provide feedback on topics relevant to your profession.
Not only will others notice your activity, but your comments will also serve as a history of your actions whenever someone views your LinkedIn Profile.
You can also “tune” your feed to ensure LinkedIn shows you content of value to your career, as described by LinkedIn in Best Practices to Customize What You See on Your LinkedIn Feed. In turn, this will give you even MORE relevant posts on which to comment.
8 – Consider running a Poll.
While you can easily issue a post, share an article, or comment on others’ posts, LinkedIn Polls tend to garner a significant amount of attention – and when done right, this attention can benefit your job search.
First, decide what professional message you want to send with a Poll – and what you want to learn about your audience in doing so. You may want to ask a question related to your field of expertise, or post additional information that helps others consider their Poll answers.
Get familiar with Polls by taking a look at How to Use LinkedIn Polls for Better Engagement. Better yet, look around at some of the Polls you see on LinkedIn to see which Polls generate the most thoughtful responses.
Then, get started by initiating a Poll of your own, noting the reactions you’ve generated and the traffic it produces. You may just want to continue realizing the benefits of a Poll and the discussion it generates!
9 – Remove your current job title from your LinkedIn Headline.
Your LinkedIn Headline allows 220 characters – so why waste them advertising your employer and job title? Expand it to show who you are and why you’re a valued candidate in your field.
In The Surprising Problem With Your LinkedIn Headline, I cover reasons to carefully construct this field and leverage all the available space, along with examples.
Remember – your Headline introduces you before you’ll even have a chance to post content or connect with others. Make sure it’s compelling, intriguing, and keyword-rich.
10 – Publish or share content on LinkedIn.
No matter your professional interests, there’s always an audience on LinkedIn.
By publishing articles on LinkedIn (or sharing white papers, blog posts, and other professional information), you can demonstrate an area of skill, discuss trends in your industry, or consistently promote your knowledge as a thought leader.
In How to Create LinkedIn Articles People Will Read and Share, Social Media Examiner points out simple ideas for choosing a topic of professional interest, inserting images, and sharing a new article.
Articles will show in your Activity feed when other users click on your Profile. If you’re creating content related to your career skills and leadership strengths, employers can quickly see why you’re qualified for a new role.
11 – Get and use a branded LinkedIn headshot.
Your LinkedIn photo is one of the first items others see when they look at your Profile or see your comments. Ensure it represents you as a leader and sought-after expert in your field – putting your best foot forward.
While a professional headshot is still an advantage as a job seeker, you can also enlist a friend or family member to take an array of photos – enabling you to choose one that suits your personality and reflects your energy and enthusiasm.
After you’ve selected a new headshot photo for LinkedIn, you can also turn to Photofeeler.com, a unique tool that lets viewers rate your headshot for likability and trustworthiness.
12 – Earn (and display) a LinkedIn Skills badge.
Now, there are even more opportunities to show what you know by placing a Skills badge on your Profile. Rolled out a while back, Skills Assessments are used to verify specialized knowledge in software development, Microsoft Power BI, Adobe XD, and other areas.
To earn a badge, look for Skills Assessments in LinkedIn Help to see the type of proficiencies listed in Technical, Business, or Design categories. Select and complete the desired exam; if you score in the top 30%, you’ll be able to place the badge on your Profile.
13 – Visit and capitalize on your LinkedIn alumni section.
Don’t miss out on the valuable networking and referrals you can gain from leveraging your alumni connections! LinkedIn even provides a free tool called Alumni to help you learn all about other users and their networks.
Here, you can search for your alma mater (or any other university, for that matter), then click on Alumni to access a wealth of networking information on where these former students work, live, and their areas of study.
This research can give you solid ideas on the companies that hire graduates of your university, and of course, provide you with an opening conversation point to network with them.
14 – Remove negative content from your LinkedIn posts.
Don’t forget – volatile subjects can take center stage, especially on social media, and eclipse your personal brand. Don’t let this happen with your professional identity!
Many employers and recruiters will do a thorough search of your social media to find out more about you as a leader and candidate.
It’s easy for other users to view your LinkedIn Activity (which shows MONTHS of history when someone clicks “See all activity” on your Profile).
Therefore, it’s best to keep your actions free of volatile topics, political sentiments, and other potential landmines that can make employers wary.
15 – Write a better LinkedIn About section.
Think of your About section as a summary of achievements – and use it to tout them!
The About section is one of the best tools to introduce yourself on LinkedIn. You can mention your success stories, talk about your passion for your field, and incorporate keywords that will help others discover your Profile.
In How to Write a Knockout LinkedIn Summary, I describe different ways to format a powerful message and content that you can be proud to display. Don’t stop there; tune your About section on a regular basis to find out which content produces the best results.
16 – Pay attention to (and leverage) Who Viewed Your Profile statistics.
LinkedIn offers the ability to see visitors to your Profile (on a free account, you must also enable others to see YOUR browsing history, so check your Settings to enable this function).
After you start looking at who your visitors are, decide on a strategy for using this data. Will you reach out to others? If so, you can share a quick note indicating you’d like to connect or chat.
Don’t just look – interpret this data! It’s a sign of who you are attracting. Therefore, make adjustments to your Headline, About, Skills, Experience, and activity based on these findings.
17 – Swap outdated entries in your Skills & Expertise section.
Perhaps you’ve only given minimal thought to the Skills listed on your Profile – or you haven’t populated them at all.
Now that LinkedIn allows you to add 100 Skills (new in 2024), you’ll want to quickly put new data in this section! It’s used by LinkedIn’s Recruiter subscribers to hunt for candidates with the right qualifications.
If you’ve already populated Skills, review your entries to ensure they still fit the best jobs for you. If you find redundancies, such as Product Management and Product Management Strategy, delete one of these entries so you can add a stronger keyword.
Use job postings to find common skills, then add these to your Skills section; you can even pin your most valuable competencies to the top, where they’ll be featured prominently.
18 – Give a LinkedIn Recommendation – or ask for one.
If you’re wondering how you can help a colleague knee-deep in a job search, here’s an easy answer: write them a LinkedIn Recommendation. Employers often look at this section for clues to a candidate’s strengths.
Not sure what to write? Reference a project or the skills you’ve witnessed in your colleague’s work. You can also mention this person’s reputation as a problem-solver, leader, or highly motivated employee.
On the same note, consider asking for a Recommendation from others who’ve witnessed your skills in action. How to Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation That Works for You covers the best ways to approach and request a testimonial from your network.
19 – Add sufficient keyword content to your Profile.
Resumes aren’t the only place you need keywords!
Strengthening your keyword density will help your Profile rank higher in employer searches, so add your areas of specialty to your Headline, About, Job Titles, and Skills sections.
To find the right keywords, use job descriptions from postings in your industry, then paste the text into a tag cloud tool such as TagCrowd or WordClouds. You’ll quickly see the most prominent words to incorporate in your Profile (assuming you have these skills).
By adding these terms in the above fields and sections, you’ll stand a better chance of being sought for ideal jobs.
20 – Add content to your Featured section (for a prominent display on your Profile!).
Another benefit to posting on LinkedIn or publishing Articles? You can showcase this content in the Featured section on your Profile.
To get started, view your Profile and click on Add Profile Section, where you’ll see Featured as an option. You can use the prompts to add any of your Posts, Articles, Links, or Media related to your work – including the URL where you’ve published your content.
LinkedIn also allows you to rotate or rearrange the entries in your Featured section, so continue to add and shuffle these items according to the attention they draw from others in your network. LinkedIn and TEDx speaker Sandra Long has describes important changes to Featured in LinkedIn Profile Redesign: 5 Key Takeaways.
21 – Endorse others for Skills you’ve witnessed in use.
Endorsing another user on LinkedIn is simpler than you think – and there’s a host of reasons to do it. For one, you could be featured on their Profile just for doing so.
However, the main reason is that you’ve seen their expertise up close and want to commend them for these skills.
LinkedIn will occasionally prompt others to endorse you for your Skills. You can, of course, hasten the process by asking colleagues for Endorsements or endorsing them for their strengths.
In How to Endorse Someone on LinkedIn and Should You Do So?, you’ll find tips on best practices for issuing a quality endorsement to other users.
22 – Browse (and apply) for LinkedIn Jobs.
Finding a job on LinkedIn – and throwing your hat in the ring – has never been easier than it is now. However, it’s a good idea to be aware of best practices when using the LinkedIn Jobs function.
For example, there’s an Easy Apply button on LinkedIn that lets employers see your Profile. However, you may want to hold off using it, unless you’ve expertly tuned your Profile to represent your value proposition.
As stated on The Muse in Here’s When You can Use the “Easy Apply” Option on LinkedIn (and When You Can’t), it’s a good idea to ensure your Profile clearly aligns with the target job and is easy for employers to recognize as a great fit.
Most career experts recommend submitting both a branded resume and LinkedIn Profile when applying via LinkedIn to ensure you’ve covered all the bases.
This list of LinkedIn tips is just the beginning!
To conduct an effective job search, get comfortable with LinkedIn.
Make this the year you learn how to navigate it, find valuable contacts, issue comments and recommendations, notice changes, converse with others, and apply using LinkedIn Jobs.
You’ll see a corresponding increase in the ROI from LinkedIn by doing so… and set yourself up for more success in the future.
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