Creating a GREAT LinkedIn Profile, Plus Pro-Tips
As a professional, LinkedIn is one of the most important platforms you can use to showcase your skills, experience, and accomplishments to potential employers. However, with so many users on the platform, it can be challenging to make your profile stand out. That’s why I’ve put together some tips to help you build the perfect LinkedIn profile that will wow recruiters and hiring managers alike. These tips are based on my experience using the platform since 2004, my role as a Social Business Program Manager from 2008-2018, and my more recent experience using the platform to land my most recent roles.
1. Professional Profile Picture
Your profile picture is the first thing that recruiters will see on your LinkedIn profile, so it’s essential to make a good first impression. Use a high-quality, professional headshot that represents you well. Make sure your face is clearly visible, and that you are dressed appropriately for your industry.
If you work in a creative field like graphic design, you might want to showcase your unique style in your profile picture. However, if you work in a more traditional field like finance, you might want to opt for a more professional look.
Pro-Tip: If you don’t have any immediately suitable images, using a service like Headshotpro.com can create a series of professional style head shots based on uploaded selfies. The cost is minimal and is a quick way to fil the immediate need, but doesn’t really take the place of professional photographer created head shots.
2. Background Image
Your background image should be cohesive and visually appealing. Use an image that is relevant to your industry or profession, and avoid images that are distracting or unprofessional.
For example, if you work in the tech industry, you might want to use an image that showcases your love for technology. Alternatively, if you work in the healthcare industry, you might want to use an image that represents the importance of patient care.
Pro-Tip: Canva.com has great FREE templates for LinkedIn banner images. If you don’t already have something you created yourself, this site will be a saving grace to helping you find and create your own unique imagery to stand out even more.
Your headline is the first thing that recruiters will read after your name and profile picture. It should accurately reflect your expertise and professional identity. Keep it short and sweet, use keywords that reflect your skills and experience, and avoid generic phrases like “results-oriented” or “team player.”
Building headlines that accurately reflect your skills and experience and will catch the attention of recruiters searching for professionals with those skills is itself a skill. There are some great examples and advice available, so fear not!
Pro-Tip: Use ChatGPT or Notion.ai to help you start some headline creation. As with everything generative AI, building the right prompt is everything. One such prompt could be: Build 10 LinkedIn headlines based on my resume below <pasted in resume content>. Then use the generated items as starting points for refining in your own words.
Your About summary should highlight your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Write in the first person and use bullet points to break up long paragraphs. Mention your current role and what you are currently working on. If you are looking to jump industries or roles, mention things that show value in those new spaces.
Again, we can turn to others for examples of great summaries. As with your headline, try to avoid jargon and buzzwords. Use this space to help build your voice in free-text that isn’t constrained to role-specific information like your work experience should be. This is where you build your story.
Pro-Tip: The same tip in #3 applies here as well, but may be a bit more difficult for generative AI to handle without really clear prompting and relevant information to feed it. So, you may want to try building out a bio of your own to feed AI with the pertinent details you want to talk about and then fine-tune from what it provides.
5. Keywords & Skills
Keywords are vital in your LinkedIn profile because they help recruiters find you when they search for professionals with specific skills or experience. Including relevant keywords in your profile can increase your visibility and improve your chances of being contacted for job opportunities.
Obviously, if you’re a project manager, you will want to include keywords that highlight your skills like “project management,” “team leadership,” and “budget management” throughout your profile. Likewise, knowing what skills you have that are relevant to where you want to be are the ones you should be adding give that there’s a limit to the number of skills you can add. Verifying those skills through LinkedIn assessments is also a great boost over just saying you have it.
Pro-Tip: The LinkedIn Career Explorer on GitHub is an amazing tool to help you identify the skills in demand and which skills you should be adding to that section of your profile, and by extension, the right keywords to use throughout your profile as well.
6. Work Experience
Your work experience highlighted should be relevant to the job you want. Yes, you did a lot in your current or prior roles, but you have limited space so make the highlights relevant to where you want to be. Show growth and impact in each role to help support the story you’ve built in your About section.
Use bullet points to describe your accomplishments and responsibilities, and quantify your achievements with numbers and metrics whenever possible. Great work experience sections show the impact you made in quantifiable ways. Highlighting increased responsibilities also helps show growth and trustworthiness.
Pro-Tip: This is another great opportunity to use generative AI to help create workable experience sections. Feed ChatGPT or Notion.ai with the list of things you did in your role (a job description is even better if you have one) and ask it to recommend quantifiable ways to show value. That should give you an excellent jumping off point if you don’t already have those ideas at hand. If you previously had S.M.A.R.T. goals as part of your performance measures in the past, then absolutely use those to show impact.
7. Recommendations and Endorsements
Recommendations and endorsements from colleagues and clients are powerful social proof that can help you stand out from the crowd. Ask former colleagues and managers for recommendations if you’re comfortable doing so. Some may oblige, others may not. If someone doesn’t, they may or may not share their reasoning and that’s fine; everyone has reasons which we’re not entitled to know. So don’t be discouraged if anyone declines. Of course, revel in the ones you do get as that is tangible validation at a professional level of the value you have brought to organizations and teams.
Approaching people for recommendations can be an anxiety inducing conversation. Find the way that works for you. In my case, I try to remove any pressure from the person I’m asking by keeping the conversation light and more casual.
Pro-Tip: Give more recommendations than you receive. I directly heard from a non-zero number of recruiters who explicitly shared that they look at this section as one of their top criteria when evaluating candidates. No recommendations received or given doesn’t look great. Received is good, but if none were given, that looks a bit myopic. Only given and none received says the candidate may be over stating themselves. So, when balancing between multiple candidates, the one who has more than 3 recommendations and has given more recommendations than received is always the one who wins out.
8. Consistent and Engaging Posts
And, lastly… Posting regularly is not quiet essential, but exceptionally helpful in building your own brand and expertise. Of course you don’t want to overdo it. A great way to do this is by sharing industry news or insights that showcase your expertise, and then engage with others by commenting on their posts and sharing their content as well.
For example, if you’re in the finance industry but working towards a career in AI, you might share articles about the latest trends in large language modeling and add your insights on how these trends could impact your industry.
Final Pro-tip: Use Creator mode if you’re creating consistently (twice a week is what is typically recommended). This will unlock more features that will help you use the platform to even larger impact. Creator mode will also shift around your profile sections a bit and bring your Featured and Activity sections to higher prominence. This is where you can really highlight some of your created content and where your engagement across the platform becomes more visible and impactful to people landing on your profile.
Don’t miss my other LinkedIn related posts to extend your reach and engagement as well! Creating an excellent profile is only the start, once you have that it is time to CONNECT, ENGAGE, and care for those lasting professional relationships!
By following these tips, learning from some example profiles, and applying the guidance to your own voice and brand, you can create a LinkedIn profile that will make a lasting impression on colleagues, recruiters, and hiring managers. Remember, your LinkedIn profile is often your professional digital first impression, so take the time to make those improvements, and I assure you the value will begin to show quickly.