As a job seeker, having a strong presence on LinkedIn can greatly increase your chances of finding employment. In essence, it’s a free personal marketing channel. Employers and recruiters can go to your profile to learn about your qualifications, passions, and current goals. In many cases, it’s where they start figuring out whether or not you’ll be a great fit for their teams.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform, and it has become a go-to resource for recruiters and hiring managers. But if you want to attract their attention, you have to put some time and effort into your LinkedIn profile. The platform helps you showcase your skills with a wide variety of features—and it’s important that you take advantage of them all.
Here are 10 tips to optimize your LinkedIn profile and stand out to potential employers:
1. Use a Professional Headshot
First impressions last forever. Your profile picture is the first thing that recruiters and hiring managers will see when they view your LinkedIn profile. It’s important to use a professional headshot that is well-lit and high-resolution. Avoid using selfies or pictures that have a distracting background. Choose a high-quality profile picture that clearly shows your face. It should also reflect the level of professionalism expected in your industry. For example, if you’re in the legal industry, wear a suit in your photo. If you’re in the graphic design industry, a colorful, funky outfit may be more appropriate.
2. Consider Adding a Background Photo
You don’t have to include a background photo, but we recommend it. It’s an additional visual marker that adds context to your profile picture. Your background photo can help to showcase your personal brand and add visual interest to your profile. Choose a high-quality photo that is relevant to your profession or industry. You can use a photo of your workspace, a cityscape, or a professional graphic that represents your skills or interests. Just make sure the photo is high-resolution and doesn’t distract from the rest of your profile. You’ll find plenty of free photos on websites like Pexels or Unsplash. Ideally, yours will reflect your industry. For example, if you’re in the tech industry, consider a photo of a computer or software code. If you’re in the education industry, consider a photo of a pile of books.
3. Create a Clear Headline
Your headline is one of the first things that people will see when they come across your LinkedIn profile. Your headline doesn’t have to be a job title. (Though it can be if you’d like.) Use keywords that are relevant to your target job and industry. Avoid using generic phrases like “Job Seeker” or “Recent Graduate.” Instead, create a clear and specific headline that will make you stand out from the competition. For example, if you’re a marketing professional, you could use a headline like “Award-Winning Marketing Strategist with 5+ Years of Experience.”
4. Write a Personal Summary Section
The summary section (i.e., the “About” section) is your chance to tell your story. Don’t list your experience or skills since you’ll have a place to do that below. Instead, share your personal passions and goals, explaining how you got where you are and what your goals are. Make it personal—this section is where you’ll sell who you are! When writing your summary, start by considering your target job and audience. What are the key skills and experiences that your potential employer is looking for? How can you position yourself as the ideal candidate for the role? Next, write a brief overview of your professional background, including your education, work experience, and any relevant certifications or achievements. Be sure to highlight any unique or noteworthy accomplishments that set you apart from other job seekers. Finally, use the remainder of your summary to discuss your professional goals and interests. What are you passionate about? What motivates you in your work? This will help potential employers get a sense of your personality and work style and may help you stand out from other candidates.
5. Don’t Skimp on Your Experience
Your experience section should be well-organized and easy to read. Use bullet points to highlight your accomplishments and quantify your results whenever possible. Focus on the skills and experiences that are most relevant to your target job. In the experience section, list all of your past roles and jobs. Even if they don’t seem relevant to the positions you’re applying for, recruiters and hiring managers like to see your career journey. Today, businesses are looking for flexible employees who can learn quickly; if you can show that you’ve excelled in multiple roles, you will stand out.
6.Add Skills and Endorsements
Before you start listing every skill you think you have, consider your current career focus. Then, select your most relevant skills to showcase. LinkedIn allows you to add up to 50 skills to your profile. Make sure to choose skills that are relevant to your target job and that accurately reflect your expertise. Ask colleagues, classmates, and former supervisors to endorse your skills. Recruiters and hiring managers will have a much easier time reviewing those skills, and they’ll clearly reflect your current goals.
7. Join Relevant Groups
Joining groups on LinkedIn can help you expand your professional network and gain exposure to new job opportunities. LinkedIn has thousands of groups dedicated to specific professions, industries, and topics. Consider joining groups that are specific to your target job or job function, as well as groups that are relevant to your interests or hobbies. Once you’ve joined a group, take the time to engage with other members by commenting on posts, sharing insights, and asking questions. This will help you build relationships with other professionals in your field and demonstrate your expertise.
8. Ask for Recommendations
LinkedIn recommendations are like testimonials from former colleagues, supervisors, or clients. They can be a powerful way to showcase your strengths and accomplishments. Reach out to people who know your work well and ask them to write a recommendation for you. A public recommendation will allow hiring managers to get a good idea of what it’s like to work with you. It’s easy to ask for recommendations on LinkedIn. Use the drop-down menu in the “Recommendations” section of your profile to reach out to a contact or your network and make a request. Be sure to choose recommenders who will personalize their requests.
9. Share the Love
While it’s great to receive recommendations, it’s also important to give them. Not only does it help to strengthen your professional relationships, but it can also increase your visibility and credibility on the platform. There’s no better way to get skill endorsements and recommendations than giving them yourself. Consider taking the initiative to write a recommendation for someone in your network without them having to ask for it. Think about people you’ve worked with in the past who have made a positive impact on you or your team. Reach out to them and offer to write a recommendation for their LinkedIn profile. Not only will this help to strengthen your relationship with them, but it will also show your willingness to support and uplift others in your professional network. Give those who you feel stand out either some skills endorsements or a recommendation. Some of the people you respect are likely to endorse or recommend you in turn.
10. Stay Active
Finally, it’s important to stay active on LinkedIn. Share relevant content, engage with other professionals in your network, and participate in industry discussions. This will help you stay top-of-mind with potential employers and position yourself as a thought leader in your field.The more you share relevant content, the more attention you’ll attract to your network. It’s also a good way to establish yourself as a thought leader. On the other hand, it’s important that you comment on and like others’ content. Showing that you’re a community member can lead to more networking opportunities. If there are recruiters in your distant network, they’ll take note.
Standing Apart from the Pack on LinkedIn
In conclusion, optimizing your LinkedIn profile can greatly increase your chances of finding your next job. By following these 10 tips, you can create a strong personal brand and showcase your expertise to potential employers. Remember to keep your profile up-to-date and stay active on the platform to maximize your visibility and networking opportunities.
This article was originally published on February 24, 2021; it has since been updated and republished on April 19, 2023.