When you set up your LinkedIn profile and put it out online, your hope is that it will get seen by the right people and convey the right impression.
So how do you accomplish just that?
First, let’s think about who might want to look at your LinkedIn profile:
- Recruiters looking for candidates on LinkedIn
- Recruiters checking out your profile after reviewing your resume and/or portfolio
- Your peers wanting to get a more complete picture of your experience and skills (keep in mind that if they like your profile, they are more likely to recommend you for a job or set you up with an important business connection)
For all said reasons, it is important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch.
In this article, we will go through all the steps of creating a knock-out profile section-by-section and share some in-depth practical tips on how to improve your profile’s visibility and make it stand out.
Part 1. Profile Picture and Banner
Here’s what a not-so-good LinkedIn profile picture looks like:
- Low-resolution and grainy
- No banner
- Looks a bit unfriendly
Here’s what a good LinkedIn profile picture looks like:
- Overall impression is professional and friendly
- The person’s face is clearly visible
- The banner is pleasing and not too distracting
Here are some requirements for your LinkedIn profile picture:
- It can’t be a selfie;
- Your face has to take up at least 60% of the frame;
- You need to be dressed in business professional or business casual attire (your safest bet is to wear something you would normally wear to work);
- Make sure your expression is friendly (smiling while looking into the camera is a good idea);
- Avoid cluttered, busy backgrounds;
- The ideal size is 400X400 px.
When it comes to setting up your profile picture and banner, you basically have 2 options:
- Have your photo taken by a professional photographer;
- Do it yourself (no extra expenses).
If you choose to go the second route but don’t know where to get started, here is what you can do:
- Pick a photo that satisfies the first 4 of the above requirements.
- Use background remove to remove unnecessary background from the image
- Go to Canva. Set up a free account and click “create a design”. Type in your desired resolution (400X400, 800X800, 1600X1600 — these will work just fine). Navigate to the “elements” tab and type in “backgrounds” in the search field.
- Choose a nice-looking background and place your image on top.
- You’re good to go! Download your image and use it for your LinkedIn profile.
Creating a LinkedIn banner with Canva is even easier. Type in “LinkedIn banner” in the search field of your home page and pick whichever banner you like (you can customize the banner if you want, it’s always a good idea to add your own spin to it)
Part 2. Headline
Your LinkedIn headline is a brief description of what you do in under 120 characters. It should be to-the-point and succinct. Feel free to use any of the templates below:
Example 1: [Job title] at [company name] — Senior Software Engineer at Google
Example 2: [Job title] at [company name]. Helping [someone] do [something] — Brand Identity Designer at Better Solutions. Helping brands across the globe find their voice and drive growth
Example 3: If you’re someone who’s multitasking different roles, you can list them out using the | character — Entrepreneur | Business strategy specialist | Keynote speaker
Part 3. Summary
Your LinkedIn summary is going to be similar to the summary on your resume but it should also differ from it in a few key ways:
- The LinkedIn summary is a general-level overview of your skills and experience as opposed to the resume one which should be tailored to a specific job you’re applying for
- It should complement your resume not copy it word per word.
Your LinkedIn summary is a marketing tool that you can leverage for your personal brand. Talk about your skills and experiences, describe your professional journey, tell a story about how you got to where you are now, include links to media (your website, portfolio etc.) — it’s up to you how you choose to craft your story and what you want the readers to take away from it.
Here are a few good examples of LinkedIn summaries that you can take inspiration from.
Example 1. Very detailed, thorough, and quite formal (wouldn’t be my top choice as I would go for something more business casual with good elements of storytelling)
Example 2. Focusing on key strengths and professional experience
Example 3. Focusing on telling a story and appealing to the reader’s emotions (This would be my top choice! Storytelling will definitely make your profile memorable)
Example 4. Keeping it short and sweet.
Your LinkedIn summary doesn’t have to be long. It’s ok to keep it down to 3–5 sentences as long as the summary is well written and paints a holistic picture of you as a professional. For instance:
“Business Analyst with 4+ years of experience. I help bridge the gap between what’s technically viable and strategically necessary.”
Important note: Whichever approach you end up going for, do not copy and paste someone else’s summary or a sample summary you found online. This can potentially ruin your credibility in the long run.
Part 4. Featured
You can leverage the featured section to “showcase work samples that you’re most proud of”, namely content that you’ve created in the past including articles, research studies, media posts and videos. You can read more on this section on LinkedIn’s official webpage.
Part 5. Experience
Just like with the summary, it’s better not to copy and paste your resume onto your LinkedIn profile. Instead, you can expand on some of your key achievements and include relevant data points to quantify them.
Quantifying your achievements is extremely important. Take a moment to go through your key accomplishments and think about how you can describe their value in numbers.
“Pitched improvement ideas to the UX design team” is not going to blow anyone away. By incorporating a little data, you can transform this statement into:
“Pitched 10 improvement ideas to the UX design team that helped increase user engagement by 30%”. This is going to look much more impressive.
Your experience section is the place for you to incorporate some relevant keywords for your profession. This will be especially useful if you’re looking for a job and want to get noticed by recruiters.
It is worth mentioning that if you want to stand out from the competition, your profile shouldn’t be overloaded with buzzwords, which are used by many other candidates.
LinkedIn has released its list of the buzzwords users in the U.S.
Here are the top 10:
1.One way to spice up your summary is to replace such words with less trite synonyms:
2. Another thing you can do is describe your achievements and give examples from your professional experience instead of just using adjectives.
Part 6. References
Having references on your LinkedIn profile is very important in terms of building trust and establishing your personal brand in the online space. It’s good to have references from both your bosses or managers and your peers as this will help paint a complete and credible picture of you and your skills.
An added bonus, by asking people for references, you will get to expand your professional network and get into a habit of building connections based on honest feedback.
Speaking of feedback, you definitely have to be open to giving references to your peers for their LinkedIn profiles. How should you go about this (especially if you’ve never done it before)?
Step 1: Start With a Knockout Line
- It’s rare that you come across a standout talent like Mike.
- Few people have the opportunity to report to a manager who is also a coach and mentor — but I did when I worked for Susan.
Step 2: Describe Your Relationship
- I had the pleasure of working with Jim for two years at the Smith Company, collaborating on several project teams.
- I hired Carrie as a freelance designer in 2011 after seeing her online portfolio, and she’s completed six flawless projects for me since then.
- Mark expertly filled the role of social media coordinator for my company’s marketing team for just over a year.
Step 3: Share a Standout Trait
- I was particularly impressed by Kelly’s ability to handle even the toughest clients — and effortlessly.
- I was always in awe of Fred’s ability to command a room and get people on board with ideas — even people who were initially on completely different pages.
- Matt’s ability to juggle multiple projects was unlike any I’ve seen before and made a dramatic difference in the productivity level of our team.
Step 4: Add a Touch of Personality
- Oh, and she made sure our Monday morning staff meetings were never without bagels and coffee.
- No matter how tense a meeting, Annie made sure everyone left with a smile.
Step 5: End With Your Solid Recommendation
- Allison would be an asset to any team.
- As a team member or a leader, Steve earns my highest recommendation.
- Any employee would be lucky to have Michelle as a manager.
- [Descriptive phrase] is the phrase that comes to mind when I think about [name].
- I’ve had the pleasure of knowing [name] for [length of time], during which [description of your working relationship].
- Above all, I was impressed with [name]’s ability to [description of what makes the person really stand out].
- And, of course, his/her [personality trait]. [Name] would be a true asset for any positions requiring [1–2 skills needed for position] and comes with my heartfelt recommendation.
Here’s a good example:
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If you’ve read this far, take a moment to go through the tips in this article and put them into practice.
Here is what your LinkedIn profile should have as a result:
1. Professional-looking photo and banner
2. A strong headline
3. A solid summary
4. Description of your professional experience containing compelling verbs and relevant keywords
5. A featured section (if you’ve done any form of content creation)
6. References from your bosses and peers
7. Bonus pro tip: customize your LinkedIn profile URL so that it’s easier to find you