Quick: What are the most important tools for a job seeker? You probably said your resume and your network. But what about the platform that combines them? LinkedIn allows you to share your experience, skills, and qualifications with future employers, while also allowing you to build and interact with your network and grow your brand as a professional. It can be as crucial to a job seeker as a well-written resume. When youre looking for a new job, LinkedIn is the place where you should be spending most of your time, says Muse career coach Jena Viviano Dunay.
Theres only so much information you can fit on a resume, says Jordan Hallow, a career consultant who advises college students on LinkedIn and other career topics. But your LinkedIn is much less limited. And even if youre not actively hunting for a new role, the vast majority of recruiters use LinkedIn as a sourcing tool to find candidates to fill positions, Hallow says. So keeping your LinkedIn profile current could allow a great new job opportunity to come right to you. Plus, an up-to-date LinkedIn can help potential clients or people with other professional opportunities find you.
Here are 31 expert-backed LinkedIn tips for job seekersfrom creating a profile that will help you land your next job or get noticed by recruiters to establishing yourself as an expert in your field.
General Tips for Your LinkedIn Profile
Tips for Individual LinkedIn Profile Sections
Tips for Using Your Profile
General Tips for Your LinkedIn Profile
1.Use Your LinkedIn to Tell a Story and Build Your Personal Brand
When youre building your LinkedIn profile, you need to think about your personal brand, Dunay says. Who are you and what do you want to be known for? What sets you apart from your peers in your industry? Once you know your personal brand, you can express it throughout in your LinkedIn profile.
Your LinkedIn is your opportunity to give the broader narrative around your strengths and work style, says Muse career coach Heather Yurovsky. You have more room [than your resume] to showcase a wide range of experiences and skills which means a greater chance that there will be something in your profile that a viewer will connect with. That connection is key in a job search.
Read More: How to Create a Cohesive, Compelling Personal Brand for Yourself on LinkedIn
2.Know Your Audienceand What Keywords Will Get Their Attention
As you craft your profile, think about who will be reading itlikely other professionals and recruiters in your industry. What will those people specifically want to see in a job candidate? Are certain technical skills the most important? Or certain experiences or qualities?
To help figure out the answers to these questions, follow a similar process to the one you would when writing or tailoring your resume. Pull up a few job descriptions for the type of job you have or would like to have, Dunay says. Take a look at what they keep talking about, common themes, what seems to matter to these employers.
3.Work Keywords in Throughout Your Profile
Once you know your keywords, weave them into your headline, summary, experience, skills, and anywhere else they make sense on your profile. But dont overdo it, Hallow says. Make sure that your keywords flow with the rest of your writing, and arent just jammed in. And definitely dont just write Keywords: in your About section and include a contextless list.
4.But Avoid Buzzwords
Buzzwords are the words you see all the time on LinkedIn and job descriptions, but that dont necessarily say a lot about an individual. Think innovative, driven, hardworking, effective, successful, and motivated. These words dont mean anything by themselves, or theyre a given, Hallow says. (No one is going to admit on LinkedIn that theyre not hardworking.)
Ask yourself if a possible keyword or phrase needs more context to make sense. If someone came up to you and told you they were effective or innovative, youd probably think, At what? or Prove it. You can use buzzwords in conjunction with more specific keywords when it makes sense but youll send a stronger message by showing you have these qualities. Which sounds best? Successful and hardworking, Successful and hardworking SaaS fintech account executive, or SaaS account executive who has brought over $10 million in new business to various fintech startups?
5.Complete Your Profile
LinkedIns algorithm rewards users with complete profiles, Yurovsky says. Youre far more likely to show up in search results with a complete profile. LinkedIn assigns different strengths to profiles based on their completeness, and theres a massive advantage to being at the highest strength, All-Star, Hallow says.
Recruiters and hiring managers are going to look at your profile whether you apply for their jobs on LinkedIn or anywhere else. A barebones profile doesnt make a great impression, Hallow says. Plus, each section is an opportunity to add more keywords and tell a compelling story. Why pass that kind of opportunity up when youre job searching? Yurovsky says.
Read More: 10 Steps to Becoming an All-Star LinkedIn User
6.But Focus on the Top Sections
Recruiters are busy and so are most professionals. There are a lot of technical advantages to having a very full profile, but you cant expect everyone who arrives at your page to read every word. You have to hook them from the start. Include your most important skills, experiences, and qualities high up in your profile. This means your cover photo, profile picture, headline, summary, and recent experience. Of those, your profile picture and headline are most important, says Muse career coach Eilis Wasserman, because these are the only two things people see before they even click on your profile.
So if you won a huge award or have a key certification, dont wait until the Accomplishments or Licenses & certifications sections to mention them. Add them to one of your top sectionsas high up as is appropriate. The same goes for your most important keywords. Dont let your most marketable skill get buried in your Skills & endorsements section.
Tips for Individual LinkedIn Profile Sections
7.Get a Custom URL
When you create a profile, LinkedIn automatically assigns you a string of numbers as a URL. But you can (and should) set a custom URL instead. Make sure your URL is easy for you to remember and share (because you should be sharing it a lot), Wasserman says. Most commonly people will use their name and initials in some format, though you might need to get creative or add numbers if you have a more common name. You can also add key certifications like CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or PMP (Project Management Professional) to better optimize your profile, Yurovsky says.
8.Add a Cover Photo That Reflects You
The blank banner above your profile picture is where your cover photo goes. Its the very first thing on your page, so you want to make a good impression with it. At a minimum, you should use an inoffensive image that means something to youmaybe a landscape view of your favorite place or something that showcases your brand, Dunay says. But you can also use a picture of yourself doing your job or customize a banner with words. You can add your personal website URL, a few of your key strengths, the services you offer, or even a meaningful quote, Wasserman says. Just keep it professional.
If you want a hand designing a cover photo, Canva has free, customizable LinkedIn banner templates. You can also find free stock photos on Unsplash to use as your background or a lower effort way to get rid of the plain gray box at the top of your page.
Read More:23 Free LinkedIn Banners That Will Make Recruiters Love Your Profile
9.Choose a Professional Profile Pictureor Take a New One
Gone are the days of needing a professional headshot for your profile image, Yurovsky says. Now, your iPhone or Android has a high-enough resolution camera to ensure your picture is clear and crisp. But just because you dont need an image taken by a professional, doesnt mean your picture shouldnt be professional. You should be appropriately dressed and not at a party or a wedding. Dont use any image where you have to crop other people out.
If you need a new picture, dont overcomplicate it: Get in front of a blank wall and take a picture, Dunay says. You should be smiling and facing a natural light source (like a window). Look at the camera. If the person who finds your profile cant see your eyes its hard to connect beyond the screen, Yurovsky says. Finally, according to LinkedIn, you shouldaim for your face to take up about 60% of the image once its cropped.
10.Write a Headline That Rocks
Your headline is not just your job title, Wasserman says. Instead, use that space to concisely communicate the core of who you are as a professional in a sentence or a few phrases. The more specific you can be about what sets you apart from the competition, the better. Highlight specific skills you want to be known for, Dunay says. And try to write something encompassing your professional career identitywho you are and where you want to go, Wasserman says.
For example: NYS-licensed chemistry teacher specializing in hands-on learning with lesson plans that draw on 10 years working in a research lab
Read More: How to Write Great LinkedIn Headlines (Plus, Examples)
11.Include a Current Job Entry, Even When Unemployed
When recruiters search on LinkedIn, one of the pieces of information the platform uses to return results is your current positionand if you dont have one, you might not appear, Hallow says. So if you dont currently have a job, you should add the position or positions youre looking for (Social Media Coordinator/Assistant, for example), but add a line in the spot usually reserved for the company name that makes it clear youre not saying youre employed, like Seeking new opportunity or similar.
12.Complete Your Intro
Dont forget to fill out the smaller sections of your profile intro when applicable. They include:
- Former name: Use this section (if youre comfortable with it!) to be searchable by names you no longer go by, such as a maiden name. You can also select who your past names are visible to.
- Name pronunciation: LinkedIn first introduced this feature through its mobile app, Wasserman says. You might consider using it if you have a long, uncommon, or difficult-to-pronounce name.
- Location: If LinkedIn gives you the option, Hallow recommends using a metropolitan area here over a suburb or smaller city so that you show up in more searches. If youre relocating, you can list your target city and expand in your summary.
- Industry: You can only pick one, so if you dont have your search narrowed down to one specific industry, you can talk about additional ones in your summary, Hallow says.
- Contact info: You should definitely add your email address here so that recruiters can reach you, but phone numbers and addresses are more common for those selling services on LinkedIn than for individual job seekers, Wasserman says. She does not recommend including a personal cell phone number. When it comes to adding additional social media platforms, you should only add them if theyre professional and relevant to your job.
13.Use Your Summary Wisely
Your summary or About section is where you can really show your personality and share your story, Hallow says. And it doesnt need to be complicated.
Heres how you might structure it:
- Introduce yourself. Who are you as a professional and what do you do? What value do you bring to the organizations you work for?
- Highlight your key skills, experiences, and achievements in paragraph form or a bulleted list.
- Talk about who you are outside of work. This is optional, but you never know which of your interests might resonate with a recruiter, future employer, or professional connection.
- Call the reader to action by asking them to connect with you to discuss growth marketing, contact you about job or speaking opportunities, or do whatever youre currently looking to get from your LinkedIn profile.
Even if you follow this structure, there are infinite ways to write your summary. The About section is very personal, Wasserman says. Use the first person, and dont be afraid to talk about what really matters to you in your career.
Read More: 5 Templates Thatll Make Writing the Perfect LinkedIn Summary a Total Breeze
14.Show Off Your Expertise or Best Work in the Features Section
Just below the About section is the Featured sections, which allows you to showcase media, links, and LinkedIn articles and posts at the top of your profile. Sharing the work or mentions that are most relevant to your personal brand and LinkedIn goals is a great opportunity to show your skills in action, Wasserman says. If you have an online portfolio, the Featured section is a great, highly visible spot to link to it.
15.Tailor Your Experience
While your resume should be tailored to each individual job you apply to, your LinkedIn profile should be tailored to the industry you work in or want to work in as well as the role you have or the type of role youre hoping to land, Hallow says. In your descriptions, emphasize the elements of your past experiences that are most relevant to the types of jobs you want. You can also include relevant volunteer work or school projects both in your experience section and the dedicated Volunteer experience and Education sections lower down on your profile, Wasserman says.
16.Use Strong Accomplishment-Driven Descriptions
In some ways, you can approach your LinkedIn profile as you would your resume: Rather than just listing your job duties under each entry in your experience section, you should be detailing your accomplishments. Each of your bullet points should describe not only what you did in your past jobs, but also how you did it, what the results were, and how it impacted your team or company. Whenever you can, include keywords to show what vital skills you used and when. And quantify your experiences and achievements. Numbers will help recruiters see the scope of your work and make your accomplishments feel more specific. Whats more appealing? Someone who says theyre proficient in Excel, or someone who says theyve built Excel spreadsheets that use pivot tables and filters to streamline a process and save their company 20+ hours a month?
Read More: How to Turn Your Duties Into Accomplishments
17.Add Links and Media to Your Work Experience
You can add links, images, videos, and files to the entries in your Experience section as well as your Featured section. So use this to your advantage: Link to your company websites, projects youve worked on, articles or reports youve published, or anything else that can let recruiters see the work youre writing about with their own eyes.
18.Make Sure Your Resume and LinkedIn Match
Your resume and LinkedIn dont have to be identical. But your past positions, companies, degrees, and licenses and certifications should match upand so should the dates. Dont contradict yourself, Hallow says. You dont want hiring managers to think youre being dishonest.
19.Add Licenses, Certifications, Projects, Volunteer Experiences, Accomplishments, or Languages
Underneath your work experience and education are additional spaces to show off your background andqualifications. Are you fluent in another language? Did you win a well-known award or write an article for a well-known publication in your industry? Are you licensed to practice in multiple states? Adding this information to your profile is a great way to showcase what makes you unique and helps you get in some additional keywords as well. But remember that if these skills and experiences are important to landing your next job, you should also try to work them into an earlier section.
20.Add Your SkillsEverywhere
Tout your skills throughout your profilenot just in the Skills & endorsements section. As mentioned earlier, you should put them in context in your experience section, but make sure that your most relevant and marketable skills also appear in your summary and headline. And you should even try to get them into your recommendations (more on that below).
In the Skills & endorsements section itself, you can have up to 50 skills, but profile viewers can only see your top three, so choose the most important ones for these slots. You can also get other people in your network to vouch for your abilities.
21.Seek Out Strong, Relevant, and Recent Recommendations
Recommendations really enhance the credibility of who you are as a professional, Wasserman says. You can ask people youve worked closely with for recommendations, but be sure to give that person talking points that help shape the story you want your profile to tell, Yurovsky says. Your recommender should know what your goals are for your next career steps as well as what skills and experiences youd like them to emphasize. And keep your recommendations current. Yurovsky recommends setting a calendar reminder to secure new recommendations at least twice a year.
Read More: How to Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation That Works for You
22.And Give Them in Return
The best way to get a recommendation is to give one, Yurovsky says. If you write a recommendation for a colleague, theyre likely to return the favor. Plus, its good practice to help out the people in your network.
Read More: Your 5-Minute Guide to Writing an Amazing LinkedIn Recommendation
23.Dont Forget About Your Interests Section
The Interests section all the way at the bottom of your profile is often overlooked, Yurovsky says, but its the secret to getting interestingand shareablecontent into your LinkedIn feed. LinkedIn will show you posts about topics in your Interests section and you can share and comment on these posts, or use them to find other professionals youd like to network with.
Tips for Using Your Profile
24.Be Mindful of Your Profile Settings
If youre job searching, you can adjust your profile settings to let recruiters know youre open to work. And if you dont necessarily want your current employer to find out about it, you can tweak your settings further to hide this info from anyone working at the same company as you. You can also control who sees your updates, Hallow says.
25.Link to Your LinkedIn on Your Resume
After youve put all this work into your LinkedIn Profile, dont forget to direct people to it, Hallow says. You can add your URL right to your resume and even hyperlink it so that anyone reading your resume on a computer can immediately find out more about why youre a great candidate.
26.Become an Active User
Once your profile is finished, you cant just abandon LinkedIn until the next time youre applying for a job: You need to be an active user. Thats your number one way to start seeing more success on LinkedIn, Hallow says. In the year after he started actively commenting on posts, engaging with other users, and writing content on LinkedIn, Hallow saw a 600% increase in his followers and connections and a 1,000% increase in profile views. Actively using LinkedIn will help you grow your network, be more visible to your existing network, and learn more about your role, industry, and potential opportunities.
27.Request Connections (and Do It Thoughtfully)
My favorite part about LinkedIn is that its the number one place to network, Dunay says. You can start building your professional network online by connecting with people you already know, but you can also request connections from people you dont know who might be able to help you grow in your career. LinkedIns alumni tool (under the Alumni tab on your schools profile) can help you find other professionals who went to your college, for example. Or you might request to connect with people who work at companies or in jobs youre interested in. You can even look for people by searching keywords within the search bar like product marketer or even introvert, Wasserman says.
No matter who youre requesting to connect with, include a message, and personalize, personalize, personalize, Vivano says. Pay attention to what they have in their profile, and be very specific about what you hope to get out of connecting. Also, be conscientiousgive people an out and dont take declined connections personally.
Once you connect, you can continue the conversation: Consider setting up an informational interview to learn more about what someone does or the company they work for or talk about new developments in your field. Youll also start to see each other in your feeds so you can comment on their posts and updates.
Read More: Want People to Accept Your LinkedIn Requests? Use These 10 Templates
28.Dont Just NetworkUse LinkedIn to Learn and Grow
Most people know LinkedIn is a networking platform, but its also a knowledge-sharing resource, Wasserman says. Users talk about what theyve learned in posts, leading to discussions among professionals. If theres a new development in your field, you can learn about it in a more interactive way than just Googling ityoull see what others think and can join in the discussion.
LinkedIn Learning is another great featureyou can learn and develop a range of new skills and add completed courses directly to your profile. Perusing the profiles of people who have the type of job or work in the industry youre interested in can help you identify which exact courses you might want to takeor at least give you clues based on their skills and experiences.
All LinkedIn users can write posts or even articles on the platform. These posts will help you build up your reputation as an expert, Dunay says. You can post your perspective about whats going on in your field or weigh in on a recent industry development, and possibly show off your writing skills at the same time. You can even share relevant articles youve come across elsewhere online. Even if youre a new professional or new in your field, you have something to contribute, and other users will notice, Wasserman says.
If you dont feel ready to write your own posts just yet, start by commenting. Select relevant interests on your profile and follow experts, thought leaders, and others in your field who have careers youd like to learn something from. Then, engage with their posts on your news feed. Youll learn, gain connections, and get food for thought for your own posts, Hallow says.
Read More:4 Ways to Write LinkedIn Posts That Turn Into Career Opportunities
30.Join LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are an incredible way to find even more like-minded professionals in your job or industry. You can discuss relevant topics in a more focused setting and become more engaged in your field. Plus, the other group members are a large pool of possible connections.
Read More: 5 Ways to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn Groups
31.Dont Only Pay Attention When Youre Job Searching
There are many benefits to LinkedIn for people who arent looking to switch jobsfrom developing relationships with others in your field to learning new skills that will help you in your current job. Plus, staying active on LinkedIn after youve landed that new role and are no longer job searching helps make that next job search that much easier, Yurovsky says. Build up your network and personal brand before you need to tap into it to land your next job. Youll also stay top of mind for people in your network, Yurovsky says, and when its time to find the next right role for you, youd be surprised how many people will feel invested in your search.
Regina Borsellino is a NYC-based editor at The Muse covering job search and career advice, particularly resume best practices, interviewing, remote work, and personal and professional development. Before joining The Muse, Regina was an editor for InvestorPlace, where she also wrote about topics such as investing and biotech companies. She holds a BA in English language and literature from the University of Maryland and an MFA in creative writing from American University. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.More from Regina Borsellino