Everyone can agree that the first step in any job search is polishing your resume. But these days, that step also includes your online CV — a.k.a., LinkedIn. Hiring managers and recruiters use keywords from your profile to find you in their searches for new hires. That’s why it’s important to keep it up-to-date, providing a complete picture of your professional persona. The following LinkedIn optimization tips will help you ensure your profile remains in tip-top shape.
LinkedIn Optimization Tips For Success
Build your network
When making connection requests, consider including a personalized message for the recipient. Instead of just sending the request, say something along the lines of “Hi James, I see we both attended ___ University and work in similar fields. May I extend an invitation to connect?”
Get recommendations and endorsements
Adding recommendations from LinkedIn connections you’ve worked with in the past is a great way to ramp up your profile. To request a recommendation, scroll down to the “Recommendations” section on your profile and click “Ask to be recommended.” Enter the name of the connection you’d like to contact, and enter a personalized message to request it. After a connection writes you a recommendation, you’ll get a LinkedIn message with instructions on how to add it to your profile. This is a great way to display glowing “props” from former coworkers, bosses or clients.
When it comes to the best LinkedIn optimization tips, it’s also important to add skills to your profile (and get endorsements for them). Scroll down to “Featured Skills & Endorsements,” and click “Add a new skill.” List as many applicable skills as you can, and endorsements can begin to roll in. You might also consider personally messaging connections and requesting endorsements for specific skills. Remember that reciprocation is always appreciated on LinkedIn; try endorsing your connections first. Sometimes, that in itself can get you endorsements for your own profile, eliminating the need for you to message connections.
Add a professional photo (and header image)
If you can, get a professional LinkedIn profile picture taken of you. Hiring managers typically don’t want to see a Facebook-style photo pasted on your LinkedIn page; make sure it’s not a casual selfie of you in a tank top or a photo with other people in it. It should be a clear picture of you in professional attire — an image that showcases who you are in the business world. For your profile header image, you can add something that either relates to your field or geographical region (e.g., if you’re in Dallas, consider using a Dallas skyline photo), or just a simple background that contrasts well with your photo. For instance, you could find a colorful photo of a wall or landscape.
Add links to your work
Under each past or current role you’ve listed on your profile, you can also add media showcasing some projects or published work. To do this, click the pencil icon next to the position you’d like to edit. Under the “Media” section, you can either “Upload” (documents, photos, etc.) or “Link” to the work you’d like to display.
You can also add a “Projects” section, if you wish to display certain elements of your work separately. Remember — you can always add sections. Honors & Awards, Certifications, Languages, Publications, and Organizations are some of the additional LinkedIn categories you can populate.
Join relevant groups
Whether you’re a journalist, consultant, marketing expert, small business owner, photographer, accountant or salesperson, there are groups on LinkedIn that mesh well with your interests and career. Within these circles, you can meet similar professionals, exchange ideas and maybe even forge some solid business relationships.
Use bullet points
When listing out the details of each position you’ve held in your career, it’s often best to organize them in bulleted form. Instead of lengthy paragraphs, arrange your work experience in shorter snippets, much like a resume — making sure the verb tense of each bullet point aligns with the next. For instance, this parallel sentence structure works:
- Created Facebook ads based on client’s $200 monthly budget
- Designed a monthly social media strategy and schedule for each client
And this one doesn’t:
- Creating Facebook ads…
- Designed a monthly…
Write a great summary
Just to the right of your LinkedIn profile photo, you’ll see a pencil icon. When you click it, you can edit your “Summary” section. In crafting this short blurb (ideally just a few sentences long), include keywords that showcase your career experience and expertise. You don’t want an extremely lengthy summary section, since your accomplishments will already be explained beneath each role.