Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

By Emily Seamone

LinkedIn Basics

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Congratulations! You are on LinkedIn and have something that resembles a profile. Your next step is to optimize your profile so that you will be more likely to be found by others and approached for career and networking opportunities. Your profile serves as your online resume or CV, speaking for your experience, skills, knowledge, and talents. By branding yourself well, you can make sure your profile is positioned to be picked up by keyword searches conducted by employers and recruiters in your field. In other words, you will be more likely to be found, recruited, and hired!

Tips for optimizing your profile

Complete every section of your profile

By completing every section of your profile, you can make yourself more likely to be found and contacted by others. This includes uploading a professional photo to serve as your profile picture, providing your industry and geographical location, completing the About section, including all your relevant job experiences, listing all of the schools you have attended, and adding key skills in the Skills & Endorsements section. All of these aspects will help you reach “All-Star” status, as designated by LinkedIn.

Optimize for keyword searches

The more relevant keywords you include in your profile, the more likely you are to be found by people in the field you are targeting. Spend some time researching the keywords for your industry and role and incorporate them throughout your profile. To identify keywords, collect three to five job listings for your targeted role and review them for common themes. LinkedIn’s secret search algorithms especially favor keywords in the Headline, About, Experience, and Skills & Endorsements sections.

Perfect the top section of your profile

Make sure the top section of your profile with your photo and headline is in near perfect form, as this is often the only information individuals see in search results (until they click on your entry). Upload a background photo for the top of your profile, which can help you stand out and communicate your brand. Customize your URL with your name and add links to your website, if you have one. Also, include at least an email in your contact information so that you can easily be reached.

Create a strategic headline

The Headline is one place where keywords are absolutely essential. Thus you want to create not only a catchy headline, but one that searches will pick up. One strategy is to incorporate multiple titles, keywords, and descriptions that explain who you are as a professional. Here is one example from a GC Graduate: UX researcher, designer, strategist, anthropologist. Designing innovative tech for human needs.

Spend time on your about section

Some experts state that the About section (or the LinkedIn Summary) is the most important area of the entire LinkedIn profile. Think of this section as an expansion of your Headline, and a place to delve into who you are as a professional. A few best practices for writing a Summary include: keep it easy to read, write short paragraphs, organize with ALL CAP headlines and bullet points, summarize (do not include your entire career history), and incorporate keywords. You can find great examples of summaries curated by the LinkedIn staff.

Add information to the experience section

The Experience section is the place to list your professional work. This is another area to fill with strategic keywords. Format each entry as you would on a resume with bullet points highlighting action verbs and incorporating results. (Note that you cannot create bullet points in LinkedIn, but you can copy and paste them from a Microsoft Word document.) Finally, you can add media links to each job to show off your best work, such as presentations, documents, photos, websites, and videos.

Include your educational background

In the Education section, include all of your educational degrees as well as continuing education and trainings. You can use the text box to describe your studies in more detail, which also gives you the opportunity to once again incorporate important keywords and emphasize aspects that relate to your target career goal. Finally, you can add media links to these entries to highlight relevant school-related work.

Add to the Skills & Endorsements section

Skills act as keywords, while receiving endorsements from your connections can help build your profile’s credibility. If someone endorses you, be sure to return the favor! This can help strengthen your professional relationships.

Don’t forget that you can add other profile sections

You can add additional sections to your profile, such as Volunteer Experience, Licenses & Certifications, Publications, Patents, Courses, Projects, Honors and Awards, Test Scores, and Languages. The more information you include in your profile that helps tell your professional story, the better!

Link to different forms of media

As mentioned above, you can add links to photos, presentations, projects, documents, articles, and videos in the Experience and Education sections, as well as in a Featured area on your profile (appears immediately after your About section). Media elements elevate your profile and make it more visually appealing. They can also be used to provide strong examples of your work. Be sure to only choose media that helps support your brand. Some examples might include an abstract of a paper, a video of you presenting, or a picture of your receiving an award.

By incorporating all of the above suggestions into your LinkedIn profile, you will be more likely to be discovered by the “right” professionals, meaning by those in your targeted field and area. In addition, you will reach the coveted “All-Star” profile status; LinkedIn says users with complete All Star profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn and be found by others. For more detailed information on optimizing your profile, please view our webinar recording Stand Out Online: Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile.