Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

Having a professional, complete, and optimized LinkedIn profile is essential in order to stand out from your competitors, to look dedicated and knowledgeable in your field, and for optimizing your LinkedIn profile SEO rankings. There are many profiles on LinkedIn that have a poorly lit photo, a headline that doesn’t inform the reader about who they are, and little to no information about their career. Your profile makes your resume come to life, and more importantly, it can show off your personality. Following the coronavirus pandemic, there are millions of people now working and studying from home. This trend is likely to continue post-COVID-19, whereby we see a rise in work-from-home job positions. So updating and optimizing your resume and LinkedIn profile now will enhance your chances to be found by recruiters, and find your next job. How can someone stand out from 100’s-1000’s of other job applicants? Simple. By fully optimizing their LinkedIn profile, and being an active member on the platform. A lot of people forget that LinkedIn is a social network, an extremely powerful one. If you don’t have time to visit networking events in person, then LinkedIn is the next best place to network – with over 690 million users, source: https://about.linkedin.com/.

CIU recommends the following:

1. Professional Profile Picture

The first thing that everybody sees when viewing your profile, is your profile picture. First impressions are extremely important, therefore your photo should be:

  • Professional
  • Wearing a suit/smart clothes
  • A close up that allows the user to clearly see your face
  • Smiling
  • Good lighting
  • A blank background
Bill Gates’ profile picture is a perfect example:

2. Create A Relevant and Standout Headline

Your headline is the most important part of your profile. Not only for optimizing your LinkedIn profile SEO, but your headline is attached to your profile when you comment on articles and engage with your network. Therefore, it should be clear, bold, and tell your audience who you are.
screenshot of linkedin headline for consultant
The screenshot above was taken from a connection in my network. Their headline is simply ‘Consultant’. There is no mention of their industry, their company, of any relevant keywords from their field of work. A ‘consultant’, in 2020, is also extremely vague and could mean that your job role is 1 of 100 different things.
screenshot of a good linkedin headline to use
The screenshot above was taken from another connection in my network. You can see they have specifically written their job role and the company that they work for. Not only that, but they have also used the ‘|’ symbol, which is an extremely effective way to split up different traits/jobs. Here we have ‘Digital Video Agency’ written, which 1) informs their audience of their field of work, but also 2) improves their profile SEO, as they will now rank when recruiters/users search for this keyword.

3. Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile URL

screenshot of bad SEO linkedin url
The screenshot above shows the current LinkedIn URL for CIU’s marketing director, David. At first glance, the URL includes his full name, which is good for SEO rankings. However, we can see an additional ‘5011bb72’ added to the URL. It not only looks messy, but it is also harder to share; for example, if David wants to add it to his resume (curriculum vitae), it is way too long and makes it more difficult for the employer to navigate to. There is a simple fix for this: If you access your profile, on the right-hand side you will see a section as seen in the screenshot below.
screenshot of linkedin url location to change
Here, you will be able to change your public URL to whatever you wish. Try and keep it as clean as possible.

4. Upload A Profile Banner

Like Facebook, LinkedIn, allows each user to upload a profile banner (named cover photo on Facebook). This can instantly set your profile apart from others. It can help to promote your company to potential clients or inform recruiters about your personal projects/passions. If we look at Bill Gates’ profile, in the screenshot below, we can see he has a profile banner showcasing his personal blog Gates Notes. It is an extremely engaging photo and makes you interested to check it out.
If you own a company, this could be your logo; if you are a student, this could showcase your final year project; or if you are a worker, this could show off some of your most successful career projects or personal accolades. Be creative. To create a professional-looking photo like this, ideally, you would use PhotoShop. However, Canva is an incredible free only design platform. Check Google for the dimensions of the profile banner, as they differ between a personal page and a company page.

5. Update Your Profile Summary

The profile summary is the section where you really want to ‘sell yourself’. Make bold (but factual) statements about yourself and what you have achieved professionally and academically. Speaking in 3rd person isn’t necessary, but some people swear by it.

You should consider the following ideas:

  • Tell people what you do – show passion
  • Your personal and team achievements
  • Your career goals
  • Include relevant keywords to boost your SEO
  • Use bullet points to highlight skills/information
  • Consider adding your contact details

Below is a good example of a profile summary, which covers our points mentioned above (source):

Good Linkedin bio example

6. Bullet Point Your Achievements/Responsibilities In Each Job

In this section, it isn’t necessary to write paragraphs. Here it is best to have 1-3 bullet points stating what you did and your achievements. To back up your achievements, it is a great idea (if you are allowed) to showcase your studies/work samples.

7. Get Profile Recommendations

Personal recommendations provide your profile with social proof and allows other people to verify the claims that you have made. Send recommendation requests to your current/previous boss, current/previous colleagues, and current/previous professors and academic advisors. The review that they give you will be public on your profile for everyone on LinkedIn to see.  

8. Get Endorsements For Your Most Important Skills

LinkedIn allows you to have 3 skills viewable to anyone that accesses your profile, and places all other skills under a ‘see more’ section. So it is important to pin your most important skills to your profile – these also tend to gain the most endorsements too. If you are a project manager, your top 3 skills may be ‘Project Management’, ‘SCRUM Master’, and ‘Team Management’. To gain endorsements from others, it is easier to go to other peoples profiles and endorse them for skills first, and they will likely return the favor. Skills are important to add because employers and recruiters may search for ‘project managers’ and filter for the skill of ‘SCRUM Master’, therefore if you have many recommendations for this skill, you will rank a lot higher in the search results.

9. Get More Relevant Connections

By getting more relevant connections, it not only allows you to stay informed of the latest trends in your field, but it allows you to start building your personal brand and ‘get your name out there’. Try and get at least 500 connections to make your profile look active because after 500 no longer does LinkedIn say your exact number of connections, it will replace it with ‘500+ connections’.  

10. Post Engaging Content / Engage With Others

Depending on the field in that you work will determine the type of content that you will publish and engage with. For some ideas on very engaging consistent high-quality content, within the recruitment industry, check out Mark Gaisford’s profile, and within entrepreneurship, Shaneé Moret’s profile. These profiles will give you ideas of what content works well and what content doesn’t.
However, alongside uploading posts and articles, it is just as important to engage in posts from your connections.
This is a great way to help build your network and your personal brand.

11. Add All Of Your Education

Many people leave this section blank or do not fully complete it. Demonstrating your academic record, no matter how good or bad your grades are, is a great way to add authenticity to your profile. We recommend that you add your grades from high school and college (university), anything before isn’t necessary. If you are ashamed of your school grades, placing them on your profile can show how much you have improved and how far you have come since. Remember to:
  • Add your school/college/university name and graduation dates – LinkedIn tells you if another person at a company went to the same university as you – this is an easy common ground to introduce yourself. Also, recruiters may be searching for people that have graduated from your specific school.
  • Add your grades
  • Attach media (as seen in the screenshot below). LinkedIn allows you to attach documents and media files to your education section. Here you can exhibit your final year project or your thesis.
  • Add any other professional certifications that you have achieved 

For visual learners, we recommend watching Natasha Vilaseca’s YouTube video on optimizing your LinkedIn profile.

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