5 Tips to Build a LinkedIn Profile That’ll Get You Noticed
How to stand out on the world’s largest professional network
Building and maintaining a standout LinkedIn profile isn’t optional. It’s not even highly recommended. It’s mandatory—if you want to stand out. Because 95 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to actively search for and contact potential employees.
“If you don’t have a presence on LinkedIn, you stand a strong chance of being overlooked,” says Rick Sass, a career coach and LinkedIn expert at Lee Hecht Harrison in Bellevue, Washington.
Whether you just graduated or are on the hunt for a new job, you can make your life as an applicant a whole lot easier by customizing your LinkedIn profile. Use these five strategies and employers will be more likely to find and hire you:
1. Write an eye-catching, descriptive headline.
LinkedIn automatically defaults the headline beneath your name to your current job title. Set yourself apart with a more creative description.
“Define yourself using nouns that describe what it is you do and what it is you want to do,” Sass says.
Try not to default to your job title even if you’ve landed a fabulous first job. “Marketing analyst” might be the name of your position, but “Quick-thinking marketing pro with an eye for catchy, viral content” will tell a recruiter that he or she should learn more about you.
2. Choose a professional, approachable headshot and background image.
“The first thing people are going to look at is the visual,” Sass says. Your background image is an opportunity to share your interests. Choose a landscape photo of your favorite place to ski or hike if you’re outdoorsy, or a baseball diamond if you like sports. Avoid potential copyright issues by taking the photo yourself or choosing from Flickr’s Creative Commons database—ideally only a photo with a “commercial use allowed” license, to be cautious.
Your profile photo is even more important. Recruiters are 70 percent more likely to scroll down and read through your professional experience if you have a headshot on LinkedIn, Sass says. It should feature your head and shoulders against a white background. Make sure to smile; recruiters subliminally think to themselves, “‘I want happy, smiley, approachable people on my team,’” Sass says.
3. Use keywords in your “Summary” section.
The summary is what makes LinkedIn better than a résumé. It’s a place where you can turn your unique educational and professional experience into a compelling narrative for employers.
“Unlike your résumé, your summary needs to basically tell me a little bit about your personality,” Sass says.
Tell recruiters what you love to do, what you do now and where you want to go next. If you’re looking for a graphic design job, say, “I am a collaborative, outside-the-box thinker who loves using design to make digital products come alive for users.” Format your summary into a few short paragraphs to make it more readable, Sass says.
Most importantly, add a section at the bottom of your summary called “Specialties,” he recommends. Employers search for potential job candidates on LinkedIn using keywords specific to the industry they’re recruiting for. Find keywords your employers might search for in job descriptions, on recruiters’ own profiles and on the profiles of candidates similar to you. If you work in marketing, for instance, the bottom of your summary could read: “Specialties: digital marketing, social media marketing and data analysis.”