LinkedIn Profile Tips. A lot of people tell you what you should be doing, but what about what you shouldn’t be doing?
LinkedIn is the place to not only find others but also to be found. And that is why you need a profile that not only helps you get found but also will entice people to contact you once they view your profile. I see many people making fundamental mistakes that actually work against them in this aspect. If you’re going to spend time putting together a profile, I assume you want to maximize your chances of being contacted by the right people, right?
With that in mind, I have created an easy-to-understand list of several LinkedIn profile tips to check for with my reasoning. If it sounds like an exercise in search engine optimization, you are on the right path. Just like any website owner, you want to stick out and be found!
Note: I have a separate post if you’re looking for LinkedIn profile advice for college students.
Now let’s go in order from top to bottom on what you should be doing with your LinkedIn profile as if I was viewing your profile on LinkedIn, ending with some advice on how to think about your LinkedIn profile in general.
1. You’re Not Using a LinkedIn Cover Image
Most LinkedIn users are using the standard LinkedIn cover photo, and this is a huge mistake! Why? Using a custom LinkedIn photo sets you apart from 90% of LinkedIn users. Many people are extremely visual creatures, and remember what they see more than what they read. This means that you might not only grab someone’s attention if you use a custom photo – you might also keep their attention!
If there is ONE thing you want to promote about yourself of business, THIS is the place to do it visually!
2. You’re Not Displaying Your Personal Photo
I wrote an entire blog post about why you should include your photo in your LinkedIn profile, but it all comes down to having credibility or not. There are too many fake profiles on LinkedIn, so you want to show that you are real.
If you have taken the time to complete your online presence, why wouldn’t you display your photo? It just raises too many potential questions. Company logos or photos of pets obviously have no value here, so be sure to avoid anything not related to your body of work or applicable hobbies.
Also, make sure in your privacy settings that you are allowing everyone to see your photo. There is a setting that only allows your network to see your photo, and this is in essence making you “invisible” to people outside of your network.
3. Your Professional Headline is Not Branded Enough
See that space underneath your name? That is your “Professional” or Profile Headline. It will appear in search results next to your name as well as everywhere else on LinkedIn. It is, in essence, your elevator speech in a few words.
Are you just putting your title and company name here? Don’t! This is the place where you need to appeal to anyone who finds you in a search result to reach out and look at who you are. Your Profile Headline is the single most important piece of real estate you have, and you need to brand it as such.
4. You’re Displaying the Wrong Industry
When you complete your LinkedIn profile, next to where you put in your current location, you can also choose your current industry.
Not only will this industry become an important part of your branding being displayed prominently on your profile, but it will also determine what searches you appear for. That’s because Industry is a popular filter to use for searches.
So think of the Industry that you want to be found for when filling out this important piece of information.
5. You’re Not Listing Three Websites
LinkedIn gives you the ability to list three websites on your profile. Are you taking advantage of it? Do you have a social media profile that you want to advertise? Company website? A side hustle that you are working on? Anything that you would want associated with yourself should be listed here. You will be adding to the search engine optimization of your own websites just by the fact that you list them here!
6. You Haven’t Claimed Your Personal URL
When you sign up to LinkedIn, you are provided a public URL, which you can then include on your email signature or wherever else you want to lead people to your profile from. You can customize this when you edit your profile. Claiming your name here is one of the first things you should have done on LinkedIn.
For instance, I can memorize my LinkedIn Profile URL, which is www.linkedin.com/in/nealschaffer, because I customized the last text to “nealschaffer.” If you have a common name, make sure you claim your URL before others do!
7. You Have Too Few Connections
This is a topic for debate, but too many people have too few connections on their profile, and thus are not getting found. The idea is simple: when you do a search, you will see results from your network. And vice-versa. So the more connections you have, the more search results you will appear in, pure and simple.
Keep in mind, too, that part of the value of social media is about connecting with and learning from people you don’t know. So what are you waiting for? If you don’t know who to invite, here are some ways to get more LinkedIn connections as well as some LinkedIn super connectors you might want to connect with. Feel free to send me a LinkedIn invite as well!
8. You Haven’t Taken Advantage of the “Open To” Section
One of the newer options that LinkedIn has been rolling out is the ability for you to add some targeted promotional messaging near the top of your LinkedIn profile indicating one of three things:
- You provide services (for sales and marketing professionals)
- You’re hiring
- You’re open to job offers
This section might not be appropriate to everyone, but if you fall into one of the above three categories, you’ll certainly want to take advantage of this.
9. Your Branded Summary Doesn’t Contain Your Strategic Keywords
Assuming that someone finds you in a search result and likes your Professional Headline, the next most important part of your profile will be your Summary mentioned above. This is the chance to fully brand yourself and ensure that any keywords that you want associated with yourself are found here.
You also want to write something compelling, just as you would in the Executive Summary of your resume. This is your stage to tell the world who you are and what you can do! Utilize it to your fullest advantage!
10. You’re Writing Your “About” Summary in 3rd Person
If you want to have an inviting profile and allow people to get to know who you are as a person, you’ll want to write your summary in an inviting way. The only way to do so is in first person.
In other words, instead of writing,
“Neal Schaffer is an accomplished marketing executive….”
“I have worked with a dozen innovative brands on their digital transformation projects for sales and marketing…”
When you write in the first person, you are bound to make a better connection with people who visit your profile, and they will read your summary as if they were literally listening to you speak it.
11. You Haven’t Added Anything in Your Featured Section
LinkedIn has always had an area where you can add multimedia content to your profile, but recently they have added a dedicated section to this content which they call Featured.
Adding multimedia to your featured section is a simple and effective way to stand out on LinkedIn. The exact type of multimedia content you select is not quite as important as simply having it there. Why? Multimedia posts encourage people looking at your LinkedIn page to stay longer, and dig deeper into your experiences, and get a better feel for your personality. You can add audio, video, or even a slideshow, all of which will keep potential audiences engaged and help you stand out from the LinkedIn crowd.
12. You Don’t List Enough Companies You Worked At Or Schools You Attended
One of the ways you are found is through searches on company names or schools. If you are only listing your current company and/or not even displaying your university, you are missing out on potentially being found.
Check this out: I did my Junior year of college abroad in Beijing many moons ago. I had been out of touch with all of the 15 or so Americans that were there that year. Two of those 15 have found me on LinkedIn! Another high school friend who I lost touch with found me recently. They would not have found me had I not listed my Junior year abroad school and high school name on my profile.
Companies are even more important in that there are potentially more colleagues that may be trying to find you or previous colleagues who might want to network with you! You may be missing out!
13. You Don’t Describe Your Past Work Experiences
Even if you’ve listed positions and titles that you’ve previously held, it means nothing if you don’t have any job descriptions. Job descriptions provide you the perfect opportunity to pepper your profile with keywords that will help you get found. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of this? I will talk about this later in this article, but you need to treat your profile as an inbound marketing tool and NOT your resume!
14. You Haven’t Added Any Volunteer Experiences
Volunteer experiences demonstrate more of who you are, what you are interested in, how you spend your spare time, and how willing you are to use your time to benefit others. Listing your volunteer experiences can demonstrate interests and abilities you possess outside of your current work, and posts detailing volunteer experiences can provide a simple way to stand out from your LinkedIn peers.
In a nutshell, adding volunteer experiences makes you more relatable as a human being, and this can help set you apart from your competitors who do not take advantage of this opportunity.
15. You Haven’t Added Relevant Skills to Your Skills Section
LinkedIn added a Skills section sometime ago. Have you checked in and seen what is listed there?
LinkedIn often pre-populates your Skills section through AI, and if you are not managing it, you might not be represented by the most appropriate skills.
Take control of the situation by choosing the 50 skills that you want to be know for.
Skills are also used in some paid versions of LinkedIn to find people, so this is another reason to maintain its relevance.
16. You’re Not Managing Your Endorsements
When people endorse your skills, they often start with those at the top.
If you are not managing your skills, you might be endorsed for skills that you are not skillful in or are not top priority these days.
Make sure that you put your highest priority skills at the top so that you are endorsed for the right ones!
17. You Don’t Have at Least Three Recommendations
This is the same as not displaying your personal photo. Why? When you sign up for LinkedIn and first fill out your profile, LinkedIn used to recommend that you receive three LinkedIn Recommendations in order to get your profile to 100% completion status. Recommendations prove that you are real and add credibility to the work experience that you say you have.
These recommendations can only work in your favor, so why don’t you have at least three of them? And working for a long time WITHOUT any recommendations can have the opposite effect of sending a red flag to people who might want to do business with you!
18. You Don’t Showcase Any of Your Accomplishments
LinkedIn is not the place to practice humility. If you have had a strong or exciting job title in your professional history, own it! If you were showered with awards at one of your positions, let people know! Highlighting your experiences and how you excelled in those roles can provide even more insight as to why a person might want to get in touch with you, and keep you on their radar.
LinkedIn has an entire profile section dedicated to your accomplishments, with presets to help you enter the following information:
- Courses Taken
- Honors & Awards
- Test Scores
- Languages Spoken
- Organizations You are a Part Of
19. Treating Your Profile Like a Resume Instead of an Inbound Marketing Tool
I mentioned this earlier, but let me repeat myself here as this mindset shift is critical to your success on LinkedIn.
Resumes are targeted items, trying to reach out and appeal to a specific person or department. They are typically quite narrow in their focus, and they often do not provide a large window into who you are as a person. Instead of treating your LinkedIn page like a resume, try to look at it as a professional “dating” tool, wherein you are offering a bit more personality, insight into why you are a great person to connect with, and a wider range of your scope, abilities, and interests. In a resume, your target audience is quite small; on LinkedIn, your target audience is vast. Treat your profile as such.
20. Not Checking In to LinkedIn Regularly to Engage with Others in Your Network
Like most social media sites, LinkedIn is intended to be used regularly. Whether you pop on each time you sort through your emails, or you hope on a few times each month to check your settings and edit the different sections on your site, checking in with people in your network on a regular basis lets them and potential leaders in your industry know that you are paying attention to the careers of your connections and keeping yourself in the loop with people you’ve connected with.
Get into the habit of checking out your news feed on a regular basis and engaging with your network through liking or commenting on their posts. A little engagement goes a long way in both keeping mindshare as well as exposing your profile to new connections who might be engaging with the same content.
21. Not Publishing Status Updates Frequently Enough
Want to promote what you are working on? Ask for professional advice? Source introductions for your next business trip? Share the latest news from your industry?
Whatever it is, get into the habit of sharing more on LinkedIn. This is another way to both attain mindshare with your network and get your content and you exposed to a larger audience on LinkedIn.
Did I miss any LinkedIn profile tips that you’d like to share? Let me know! And if you didn’t make any of the above mistakes, congratulations! You’re in good shape ;-)
Hero photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
LinkedIn Profile Tips FAQs
A good LinkedIn profile consists of 17 must-have items in it regardless of your profession. Here are some of the important checklists you should be aware of:
1. Professional photo with a clean background
2. Professional, real name
3. Good, professional headline
4. An optimized location
5. Which industry/niche do you belong to
6. Professional Summary
7. Recommendations, skills, and relevant experiences.
Check these 21 LinkedIn best practices that will help you make your profile stand out:
1. Update and complete your LinkedIn profile
2. Optimize your profile for SEO through relevant keywords
3. Customize your LinkedIn profile URL
4. Use a professional headshot for your profile picture
5. Create your Branded Professional Headline
6. Get LinkedIn recommendations
7. Create a well-developed profile summary that will showcase your strengths and expertise
It is best to include as much information as possible that is related to your career. LinkedIn serves as your “online resume” so you would want to put all the necessary information about what you do and what you offer. However, do not make put lengthy details. LinkedIn users, especially recruiters go through your LinkedIn profile as if they are reading an actual resume. Long descriptions will be hard and boring to read. Just give a high-level overview of what you can bring to the table.
As a beginner, your main focus should be on building your LinkedIn profile. This is the most crucial part of the process as you would want to get this done right. You can create a lot of opportunities just by building a good LinkedIn profile. Start with choosing a professional profile photo, a branded professional headline, and an engaging summary. Once you’ve got all information up in your profile, an additional tip would be maximizing all LinkedIn features and taking leverage of its big database.
The way how you can best describe yourself on LinkedIn will depend on your goal. Are you looking for a job? Are you trying to build branding for yourself? You need to determine first what you want to achieve when you create your profile and from there you can decide your best approach. Keep in mind that your summary should always include a short 3-5 sentence that best describes your experience, area of expertise, and what you are professionally known for.