Like many LinkedIn users out there, you might be confused with the overwhelming amount of advice about setting up and configuring your LinkedIn profile. In this blog post, I will cover how to set up your LinkedIn profile so it is optimized for the search engine that it is and enhanced to have a higher conversion rate. In other words, you’ll learn how to have your profile discovered and clicked on by recruiters.
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Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I need to get something off my chest…something that I find extremely shocking!
There is some really bad LinkedIn advice out there…
I have seen career coaches advise that you only include high-level information like job title and the companies that you work(ed) for, without further details on your LinkedIn profile. They suggest that this will leave recruiters “intrigued” so they will follow up to get more info.
LinkedIn does NOT work like this and recruiters do not want to do any more work or follow-up than they need to. They want to see your full story. And, LinkedIn’s search engine will only pull your profile out from the sea of professionals on LinkedIn if it is optimized. So, in saying that, do the work and optimize your LinkedIn profile if you are using it to find job leads. If you are only using it as a social media platform, THEN it doesn’t really matter if it’s optimized.
Alright now that I have gotten that out there, let’s learn more about LinkedIn and how you can optimize your LinkedIn profile.
What Is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is an online professional network with over 700 million members that span across 200+ countries. LinkedIn offers solutions to businesses looking to hire and connect with professionals and individuals looking to market their skills or build their professional brand and network.
Additionally, LinkedIn also offers online learning programs through LinkedIn Learning.
Why Should You Create a LinkedIn Profile?
When you are looking for a job or to progress in your career, I won’t say it is required, but it is almost expected these days that you’ll have a LinkedIn profile. You can be successful in developing a career and finding a job without a LinkedIn profile – but, it may be easier for you if you do have one.
Here are the reasons why it will help you with your job search:
1) By building a professional network and engaging with LinkedIn posts by contributing to the conversations (comments) you’ll come across as a subject matter expert within your field – assuming you provide quality comments that demonstrate your knowledge.
2) Your network may refer you for open positions.
3) So recruiters can find YOU!
In addition to learning about how LinkedIn can help you find job leads, I want to point you to some other blog posts that may help you find a job or advance your career:
- How to Automate Your Job Search
- Job Searching 101 – A Crash Course to Help You Start Your Job Search
- A Practical Guide to Writing A Career Plan
What Is a LinkedIn Profile?
A LinkedIn profile is essentially what most people view as an online resume and professional profile. When you set up an account, the expectation is that you set up a profile to start using it for what it is meant to do – to help you build a professional brand, network, find job leads, and apply for jobs posted on LinkedIn. Oh and socialize, a lot of people also use it for socializing instead of using Instagram, Facebook, etc.
It can also be used to help you find Sales leads if you are already working and would like to find customers/ clients. Businesses can set up profiles as well, but for the purpose of this post, I am only going to talk about setting up a personal LinkedIn profile and how to enhance and optimize it.
Why Should You Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile?
I already stated that you should create your LinkedIn profile so recruiters can find you. You should optimize it for the same reason – so recruiters can find you. Ultimately, LinkedIn is a bank of professionals that recruiters can search through to fill roles they are hiring for. An optimized profile will rank higher in their searches.
Having a completed LinkedIn profile shows you care and took the time to complete it. As silly as this may sound, it’s also a demonstration of your written communication skills and your computer skills.
Finally, you want to enhance your LinkedIn profile and ensure it is optimized with keywords you want to be known for; but, most importantly completed so you can use it to quickly apply for jobs. When searching for jobs on LinkedIn, if an employer chooses, they can allow applicants to “easy apply”. Although I believe that you should try and apply to the company’s website directly – I recognize that is not the route everyone takes. Therefore, if you are using your LinkedIn profile to apply for jobs using “easy apply”, your profile needs to be completed properly.
Assuming you have already created a LinkedIn account, let’s get started with my tips on how to enhance your LinkedIn profile with these optimization tips
How To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is about ensuring that you have included all of the keywords that you want to be known for. It should mimic your resume, but it can and should also provide more information than what your resume normally would. Here’s why…
When you apply for a job you should be targeting and tailoring your resume specifically for the position you are applying for.
So, if let’s say someone is currently a Marketing Specialist and they want to apply for a job as a Social Media Marketing Strategist…
They are going to remove anything that is not related to being a Social Media Marketing Strategist and highlight their experience with social media marketing. But, in a LinkedIn profile, it would be perfectly acceptable to include some of the information that you might leave off your resume assuming it is related to the career path you are on or the one you are trying to achieve.
By optimizing your LinkedIn profile, you will allow the search engines built within the platform to work to your advantage. You will appear in keyword searches and have a better opportunity to stand out among the sea of professionals using the platform.
How to Complete Your LinkedIn Headline
Your headline is exactly as it sounds, it’s your profile’s title. By default, LinkedIn will use your job title as your headline unless you customize it.
The details included in your headline are searchable so use this to your advantage! Include a business title that you want to be known for – one that a recruiter will search for when searching for talent. Also include your specialized skills that are in high demand.
Here is what mine looks like…
As a heads up, although I am writing about optimizing your profile I will tell you I have not taken the time to optimize my own (I am not currently job searching). So, don’t use my profile as one that you should refer to. Instead, follow the details included in this post! Connect with me on LinkedIn!
How to Complete Your “About” Summary
The about section on your profile is also searchable and you are provided with a lot of characters to make it count. Load this section up with rich keywords that recruiters and your target audience will be looking for if they were to run a search.
You don’t need to start from scratch here. Providing your resume’s professional profile is well written, you can use this to help you write your summary. However, you should provide a bit more detail than your resume’s profile – most importantly use this section as an opportunity to highlight your specialized skills. This blog post 50+ Job Skills to Include on Your Resume and How to Incorporate Them will help you learn more about specialized skills and how to include them on your resume AND your LinkedIn profile. Because the reality is, your LinkedIn profile is an online resume so the same theory applies to publishing your skills within the content of your LinkedIn profile.
How to Complete Your LinkedIn Profile’s “Experience” Section
Completing the experience section of your LinkedIn profile is a lot like the experience section of your resume. The only difference that I would suggest is that you include more information on your LinkedIn profile. Since you target each resume by highlighting relevant information for jobs you apply for, you may omit some job responsibilities on your resume. Those that you omit though should be on your LinkedIn profile – assuming they are directly relevant to the career you are trying to pursue. Use rich keywords within your experience section the same way you would in a resume. You want to use keywords that you want to be known for. Keywords that recruiters will likely search for when trying to find their ideal candidate. Always be honest and never stretch the truth when documenting your responsibilities and achievements.
How to Include Your Education, Licenses, and Certificates on Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn also provides you with the opportunity to add your education as well as licenses and certificates.
When completing your education, only list your formal education completed at a university or college. Include the program)s) completed and the degree(s) or diploma(s) obtained. Do not list individual coursework unless you are a student or a brand-new grad. By including coursework you may run the risk of looking too junior for a position. LinkedIn also provides you with the opportunity to add in a GPA. Leave that section blank as most employers do not ask for this. The only time they might is when hiring for internships or student positions. But even then, a lot of organizations recognize that a high GPA doesn’t necessarily equate to a better employee.
You would then list any credentials, designations, certifications, etc. under the licenses and certificates section. Only list what applies to the career you are trying to pursue. Like for example, I am a certified gymnastics and trampoline coach, but since it has nothing to do with my career in Human Resources, so it is irrelevant at this point in my career. Include where you obtained the certificates and program as it looks “more valid” when you provide all of the information upfront. It makes the recruiter feel as if it is something that can be verified.
Include Your Skills on Your LinkedIn Profile
Again, you don’t have to start from scratch here, you can transpose what you have included on your resume. You can also provide more information and feel free to list all of the transferable and specialized skills that you want to be known for. Think about what skills a recruiter might search for when hiring for your dream job – assuming that you have those skills include them in your LinkedIn profile.
You can also have your skills endorsed, but we will look at that below in the enhancement section.
Need help determining what skills to include in your profile? This blog post may help you!
Use an Optimization Tool to Test Your Completed LinkedIn Profile
Jobscan offers a LinkedIn optimization tool that will scan your profile and let you know with a score if you have optimized it. Jobscan’s technology will score your profile based on keywords, completed fields, and the content in your various searchable sections (your headline, summary, and experience). You can also retrieve personalized suggestions.
I have gone through how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for the search engines within the platform… now, let’s look at ways that you can enhance your profile and lead to more recruiters wanting to connect with you about opportunities after they have come across your profile in their searches.
How to Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile
There are several ways that you can enhance your LinkedIn profile leading to higher click-through rates by recruiters and possibly more job offers. Let’s look at the different ways you can enhance your LinkedIn profile to have more recruiters engage with your profile and potentially receive more job offers.
Include a Professional Headshot on Your LinkedIn Profile
Although including a photo to your actual resume is a faux pas, not putting a picture on your LinkedIn profile will put you at a disadvantage. Also, using the wrong photo could be worse than not including one altogether. By including a photo on your LinkedIn profile, you allow those who view your profile to build a connection with you. It’s also been said that having a profile picture leads to more click-throughs to review your profile.
When selecting a picture for your LinkedIn profile, choose one that should you as welcoming and inviting by using a photo that you are smiling in. You should also be the only person in the photo. Try to avoid using a photo that has a busy background and ensure that you are wearing appropriate clothing for your photo. You don’t need to have your headshot taken by a professional, using your phone to take a photo will do the trick!
Add a Background Banner to Your LinkedIn Profile
I always suggest adding a background banner to your LinkedIn profile rather than the generic LinkedIn banner. You can have a little bit of fun with this and even use it to show some of your personality and interests (while keeping it professional). The ideal image size is 1584px x 396px.
You can download FREE LinkedIn banners (perfectly sized) from my shop.
Show When You Are Open to Work
Here is another area where I am going to say that there is some mixed information out there. I have heard of career coaching teaching their clients and followers to not use the #opentowork capabilities LinkedIn has provided.
I am going to say that is bad advice.
Their reasoning behind it is that they suggest that it shows you are “easy to get” rather than the top of your profession. I completely disagree. I have looked at candidates’ profiles to see if they are open to work when looking to fill jobs. I have also asked my colleagues what their thoughts on this are…
Consensus says if you are searching for a new opportunity – set your profile to “open to work”.
If you are currently working and want to do this incognito, you can set it up in such a way where only recruiters can see that you are currently job search. In other words, if you are looking for a new job but don’t want everyone to see (including your current employer), then ensure you have set it up correctly.
Heads up if you are using the “recruiters” only setting, LinkedIn tries its best to ensure people at your current company cannot see you are job searching, but they cannot guarantee this.
Ask Colleagues to Endorse Your Skills or Write A Recommendation For You
Another great opportunity to enhance your LinkedIn profile is to ask some of your colleagues (if you are a student, ask classmates or professors) to endorse the skills that you have included on your profile. Don’t ask them to endorse a specific skill, instead let them know that you are currently working to beef up your LinkedIn profile and ask them if they’d help you out by endorsing some of your skills if they believe the skills you have identified are indeed your strengths.
You can also ask them to write a recommendation – a brief statement about you, your competencies /specialized skills… even what it is like to work with you (your soft skills)!
How can LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations help enhance your profile?
Recruiters and hiring managers may look at these when trying to decide on moving forward with an offer – it’s almost like a reference check before actually completing one. I
f a hiring manager is trying to decide between their top candidates, there’s a chance that they may review their candidates’ LinkedIn profiles for recommendations or others validating a candidate’s competencies. In order for this to work to your advantage, you will need to have content in your recommendations section and colleagues that endorse your skills!
How To Optimize and Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile Wrap Up
Well, I have gone over several ways that you can optimize your LinkedIn profile for the search engine that it is. As well I have identified how to enhance your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of recruiters looking to connect with you about employment opportunities.
I would love to hear how your LinkedIn profile is working for you once you have implemented these tips. Cheers to getting more job leads and using the power of technology to help you with your job search!