If you want to optimize your LinkedIn profile, you need to craft each section in the right way. Once you’ve put together your profile, you need to maintain your page for maximum exposure.
This 25-point checklist outlines the sections to complete and guidance on how to complete these sections with optimum results — and get it all done in one day.
25 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile
Doing even some of these steps will put you ahead of the majority of your competitors. Do all of them, and you might just amaze prospective employers.
1. Put Your Name in Lights
Enter your name as you want to be called. You can use the former name function if you changed your name over the course of your career and want to be found under your former name. You can also choose who gets to see your former name.
2. Make the Most of Your Tagline
Optimizing your tagline is very important to your LinkedIn profile. In your tagline, also known as your headline, use the keywords, descriptors and deliverables for which you want to be found for by hiring managers and recruiters.
Make sure you don’t let this line default to your current job title. Instead, use this 120-character area to give the reader a snapshot of your professional brand so that they’ll want to click on your profile link to read further. Hiring managers actually use these keywords to find people like you!
Stumped on what kinds of keywords and phrases to use? Take a look at job descriptions that appeal to you, and then pick out the phrases that describe you best.
Here Is an Example of a Before and After Tagline:
BEFORE: SVP, Stanford Capital Partners
AFTER: Financial Services SVP/COO | Investment Management | Client Services | M&A Integration | Increased Margins
3. Use a Professional-Looking Headshot
Whether you hire a professional photographer or use a personal photo, having the right image attached to your LinkedIn profile is critical. Use a photo in which you look professional and that is appropriate for the type of industry you are in and the type of job for which you are applying. Recruiters and hiring managers want to feel a personal connection with you as a candidate.
Including a photo on your LinkedIn profile increases your profile being viewed by 40%. Not having a picture — or worse, having a bad picture choice — can seriously hurt the impact your profile makes.
Invest in a professional picture or choose a photo of your own where you are professionally attired. Choose a cropped headshot that is free from blurs, other people and background distractions.
4. Use a Background Image
You have the option to include a background image to complement your profile photo for further branding. You can choose an image (ensure you have the rights to use the photo) or use a meme creator to create an image of a quote that embodies what you stand for. This is a great place to demonstrate your personal brand to promote the image you want to put forth. The size of this photo is 1400 x 425 pixels and should be a .jpg, .gif or .png file.
5. Claim a Vanity URL
It’s a lot easier to point people to your LinkedIn profile when you have a direct link with your name in it. LinkedIn allows you to customize your profile URL easily, and you should absolutely change it if you haven’t already.
If you don’t, you’ll be stuck with a generic (and long) link that will be difficult to include on your resume materials and/or business cards. These LinkedIn Help instructions show you how to customize your public profile URL (otherwise known as a vanity URL).
6. Include Your Contact Information in the Designated Folder
Under the vanity URL and top third of your profile, you have the option to include a Twitter handle, three website addresses, a company web address, phone number, email address and more — neatly placed in an address file at the lower right-hand corner of your intro box, alongside your LinkedIn URL. Taking advantage of this section makes it easier for hiring managers to contact you.
7. Adjust Your Public Profile Settings
LinkedIn automatically sets profiles to be seen by the public. You can customize which sections are visible to the public (and which are not) when your profile comes up in a search engine result.
Typically, you will want all of the sections visible, but you may decide to choose a different strategy when deciding what is shown or not shown.
8. Create Achievement-Driven Summary and Experience Sections
The summary section provides you a 2,000-character space to showcase your achievements and key accomplishments. Additionally, you can reference other parts of your profile here, to encourage readers to keep scrolling to the other sections of your profile where your work is more prominently displayed.
Here is where you can really start to build your brand. Remove the fluff and clichés and instead make this section jam-packed with action-driven information and language, letting your personality shine through for that prospective employer. Don’t just tell someone you are results-driven, demonstrate this fact by citing specific results in your profile.
You want to make sure you give your best first impression in the first 363 characters of your profile section. Why that odd number? It’s the number of characters that appear on your page without someone having to click through to read more.
Here is a guide to developing achievement-driven statements for your summary and experience sections. For each task or claim you are making:
- Ask yourself, “How did I make money, save money, streamline a process, improve the outcome or contribute to culture?”
- Another way to ask this question is, “How do I know I did a good job?” And then describe what that good job looked like.
Using these two questions will steer you away from wasting space by listing job responsibility tasks in your profile and will instead put you on the road to developing accomplishment-driven language in your profile.
9. Use Keywords in Summary and Experience Sections
Keywords are important throughout your profile, not just in your tagline. In your summary and experience sections, you’ll want to use words that will enable hiring managers to “find you” in a keyword search.
Quick tip: Cut and paste a job description into a word cloud application like Wordle.net, to identify keywords and acronyms that you need to have in your profile. Then incorporate these keywords into the content of your summary and experience sections. You’ll want to use these same keywords to develop the skills section of your page (more on that later).
Use words that demonstrate your abilities, subject matter expertise and skill sets as often as possible, especially in your summary and experience sections.
10. Showcase Your Work
There are several sections in your profile that allow you to showcase your work and professional credentials and demonstrate your personality. Each of these sections can add dimension to your overall brand.
For example, use the project section to spotlight work that is pertinent to your profession. (Be sure you have permission to use this material publicly on your profile.) This is an especially great option for copywriters, graphic artists, conference speakers and corporate trainers. What you decide to include here can help set you apart from other candidates.
Include relevant information in each of these sections such as publications, projects, courses and volunteer experience. Upload applicable media, presentations and videos. Make sure that what you include reinforces your personal brand.
11. Complete All the Sections
The more complete your profile, the better chance you have of turning up in someone’s search results. Be sure to complete all of the sections including education, certifications, interests and the other section options your profile provides, when applicable.
Keep in mind the overall impact each piece of information will have on your personal brand. Include details that help enhance your brand and make your profile stronger.
So you know multiple languages? Have your received honors and awards? Do you have patents? These are the kinds of details to showcase that could help you rise above the competition.
12. Embed Media Elements to Keep the Reader Engaged
If you want to make your profile extra engaging and interesting to keep the reader scrolling down your profile, add media such as documents, video, images and audio. In essence, you’re creating a portfolio to go along with your resume. You can easily embed these links into your summary, work experience, education, project and other sections.
As with everything else, you will want to make sure the media chosen supports your brand and reinforces your image in a positive manner.
13. Choose the Right Skills
The skills section allows you to create an instant association with different skill sets that you want to promote. Be careful in choosing the right skills — you can choose up to 50 — for the job you are seeking and your personal brand.
The options seem limitless, but here is the place to remember your specialization. Focus only on the skills that make the most sense for your overall profile and the types of jobs you are seeking. You can reference the job descriptions for guidance on keywords and phrases to include.
14. Get Recommendations
Having colleagues, managers, clients, vendors, mentors and others provide recommendations about your work and capabilities is the best kind of social boost you can get on LinkedIn. Reach out to your connections and ask them to provide a recommendation. The more qualitative the recommendation, the better.
15. Don’t Forget the Endorsements
Endorsements get a bad rap sometimes, just because they are easy to give and you may be endorsed for skills you do not want to showcase or may not even have. Have no fear. You have complete control over what skills get endorsed and the order in which they appear. When you choose the correct skills, it will be easy for your connections to provide endorsements. Choose to keep the most relevant and pertinent endorsements. It is OK to delete endorsements for topics not pertaining to your brand or your target job(s).
LinkedIn endorsements are important even if you think they’re too easy to get or that they might dilute your recommendations. You can choose to be notified when someone endorses you. That gives you a heads up so you can thank the endorser. Even better, it’s an easy way to open a dialogue and network.
16. Rearrange Sections to Showcase Your Best Self
Did you know that you can rearrange the sections of your profile to customize what you deem most important and showcase first what puts you in the best light?
To do this, look for the icon in the upper right-hand corner of each section called “move LinkedIn sections.” Then arrange your sections based on what you think is most important to your target audience. For job seekers, this is potential employers.
17. Decide to Include Personal Details (or Not)
It may (or may not!) be obvious for you to include personal details. For U.S. job seekers, it is not necessary to include personal details. For those seeking positions outside the U.S., including a birth date and marital status are more customary.
18. Align Your Profile Data to Your Resume Information
In most job application scenarios, hiring managers will find your LinkedIn profile after they have reviewed your resume. It’s important that your resume and LinkedIn profile match up.
It doesn’t have to be word-for-word, but the dates, titles, information and skills need to corroborate each other. Not having these two documents in alignment can thwart your job search and even call your trustworthiness into question.
19. Make Your LinkedIn Profile Mobile Friendly
About 40% of LinkedIn users use the LinkedIn Mobile apps. While the information a reader finds on a computer is the same that can be found on a mobile device, the layout and functionality are different, so there are a few things to pay extra attention to.
Take a look at the first 73 characters of my tagline and the first 42 characters in my profile summary, shown in the screenshot below. To know for certain how your profile appears on a mobile device, check it out on your own phone.
20. Get Active on the Site
How active you are on the site is prominently showcased on your profile and is weighted by LinkedIn. Participating in groups, posting status updates, commenting on posts and liking content are ways to engage with other users and share information with your connections. When someone looks at your profile, they can see how active you have been on LinkedIn and how often you have posted or shared information.
Update your status on a regular basis, so your network can see what you are doing. Status updates can be as simple as a link to an article you found interesting, information about an event you are attending or details on a presentation you are giving. You can also engage by posing a question to your network or answering someone else’s question. The more you reach out, the more likely you’ll get engagement in return.
Remember, having a robust LinkedIn profile is only one piece of the “getting more views on your profile” puzzle. Engaging members is the key second step to bring views to your profile. Be active in your groups and with your connections, and you will see your profile views increase.
21. Update Your Connections
On a monthly basis, update the contacts that you include in your list of LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn gives you a powerful tool to expand your network. Go to My Network, click on Connections and click on the star wheel to the right in order to add your Gmail contacts or import contacts to invite to your network.
Also under My Network, you can choose “Add Contacts,” and LinkedIn will let you add individuals one-by-one or choose your email provider to sync your contacts with your profile connections.
22. Complete Your Profile 100%
When your profile is completed, it will show in LinkedIn search results of your networks. As a job seeker, this is paramount for being found by recruiters. Follow the prompts in completing your profile.
If you are not currently working, enter a “present” position that indicates the type of job you are looking for. Also, outline professional activities you are doing while looking for your next role. Having this “to present” position listed will contribute to your profile being 100% complete.
23. Join Up to 100 LinkedIn Groups
When you join up to 100 groups, you are now in the connection webs of the group members of these 100 groups — and not just the connection webs of your three degrees of connections. This enables your profile to show up in exponentially more search results.
24. Like and Comment on Other People’s Status Updates
The engagement will increase your profile views and can lead to offline conversations. Using LinkedIn as an online networking tool that leads to offline connections is the goal.
25. Share Articles That Will Help Others
Post information that is pertinent to your industry and profession so you look like a professional resource to your peers.
Developing a robust LinkedIn profile is a key piece of almost any job search these days. And being active on the site increases the opportunities for your profile to be seen by the right parties.
Completing these checklist items will enable you to have a keyword-optimized, achievement-laden profile that, when combined with the view-building activities, will increase the opportunities for hiring managers to find you (and you finding hiring managers to contact) for the right job.
Lisa Rangel of Chameleon Resumes® LLC, www.chameleonresumes.com, a Forbes Top 100 Career Website, is a 10-time Certified Resume Writer, Job Search Consultant & Former Recruiter. Hired by LinkedIn as a Premium Career Group Moderator & Official LinkedIn Blog Writer, she has been featured on Fast Company, Business Insider, Forbes, LinkedIn, CNBC, Time Money, BBC Capital, Newsweek, eFinancialCareers, CIO Magazine, Monster, US News & World Report, Good Morning America & Fox Business News.