5 Steps to a Fantastic LinkedIn Profile


As a Campus Spokesperson for LinkedIn, I am currently in the midst of facilitating a series of training webinars for college career services professionals (sign up here if you haven’t already — they are free!). I recently wrote a blog post for CollegeRecruiter.com advising career services professionals how to improve their LinkedIn profiles. Today I’ve adapted those tips for job seekers and young professionals:

As the largest and most vibrant professional social network, LinkedIn provides a wealth of opportunities for job seekers and ambitious young professionals. But LinkedIn doesn’t work unless you work it.

How can you make the most of LinkedIn? Here are some tips for creating a profile that will impress employers, colleagues, headhunters, professional association members and more:

1. Include keywords in your summary statement. The Summary portion of your profile provides a chance to share the highlights of your bio in your own words. It’s also a place to include key words and phrases that a recruiter or hiring manager might type into a search engine to find a person like you. The best place to find relevant keywords is in the job listings that appeal to you and the LinkedIn profiles of people who currently hold the kinds of positions you want. Check out LinkedIn’s Company Pages feature to search through the profiles of employees at your dream employers. And remember, it is absolutely fine — crucial, in fact — to include unpaid or volunteer work in your Summary. If you are a current student or recent grad, you can include relevant coursework and extra curricular achievements as well.

2. Write for the screen. LinkedIn, or any website for that matter, is not the place for long-form prose. Present your summary statement in short blocks of text with lots of white space. Bullet points are great, too.

3. List all experience. One of the most valuable aspects of LinkedIn is the way it connects you with former colleagues and classmates—which, as we all know, are some of our best networking contacts. It would be a shame if a long lost former colleague or classmate, who happens to be a recruiter now, couldn’t find you because you hadn’t listed that shared employment in your LinkedIn profile.

4. Collect diverse recommendations. Nothing builds credibility like third party endorsements. The most impressive LinkedIn profiles have at least one recommendation associated with each job a person has held. Think about soliciting recommendations from professors, internship coordinators and colleagues, employers, classmates with whom you shared an extra curricular activity and professional mentors.

5. Share your news frequently. The best way to stay on other people’s radar screens is to update your status on LinkedIn (the box near the top of your profile) at least once a week. Tell people about events you are attending, major projects you’ve completed, professional books you are reading, successes you are celebrating or any other news that you would tell someone at a networking reception or on a quick catch-up phone call.

Want to become a more active user of LinkedIn? Check out the LinkedIn Learning Center and, for students, the LinkedIn Grads Guide. I also recommend Guy Kawasaki’s LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover.

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    Comment: Posted by Lindsey Pollak on January 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    @Dara – I’m so glad this was helpful for you. Definitely keep those older experiences on LinkedIn! For a headline, I’d suggest checking out successful people in your industry (just use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search to find them) and borrow some ideas of positive, keyword-rich headlines for your industry. You might also be interested in the free “LinkedIn for Job Seekers” webinars I teach each month. Even if you are not job hunting there is a lot of advice on profile writing and networking: http://learn.linkedin.com/jobseeker. Good luck!

    Comment: Posted by Dara on January 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    This article was incredibly helpful to me. I’ve been wondering if I should remove older experiences from my linkedin for a while now, but your article convinced me not to! I would have loved to hear your thoughts about writing a headline. I still use my current job title, I just can’t decide on a different headline though I know it would be much more beneficial.

    Comment: Posted by Lindsey Pollak on February 8, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    @Greg – so glad you enjoyed this post. I think writing book reviews on LinkedIn is a terrific idea, as long as you focus on reviews of professional books (unless you work in publishing or a related industry).
    Good luck!

    Comment: Posted by Greg on February 8, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Great advice! I am using Linkedin as a component of my job search, and I am wondering if it is helpful or harmful to post book reviews. I am applying for numerous positions that require excellent writing and editing skills, so I decided to post a reading list with reviews. Is this a bad idea? Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

    Comment: Posted by Ursula @ Umkhonto on August 23, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Facebook is what it is, but it is not the be-all and end-all of social media, and for the professional person LinkedIn is the definitive social media network. Recruitment agencies and headhunters are increasingly using LinkedIn to source candidates, so there is no better time than the now to get your career experience out there. Who knows what may come your way!

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    Comment: Posted by Rebecca Sykes on August 13, 2009 at 10:51 am

    This is great advice, thanks – nice to see a ’5 things you can do…’ article that includes 5 genuine tips that are neither a complete idiots guide or too random to be useful to the majority.

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    Comment: Posted by sethupathy on August 12, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Good one!

    Comment: Posted by Matt Shepherd on August 11, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Fantastic insightful guide for using linkedin. Can I add making your key sections (your best jobs/achievements) available on your external profile. This gives your name more exposure with those keywords for search engines. If a potential employer google’s your name you want this profile near the top

    Comment: Posted by Katherine Read on August 11, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Great Presentation today!!!
    Katherine C. Read
    Assistant Director, Employer Relations
    University of Central Florida

    Comment: Posted by Tarek Korraa on August 10, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you for some great tips.

    Comment: Posted by Job Hunter on August 10, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Great advice. I think that’s one of the things most people don’t know is how to use online tools the right way.

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    Comment: Posted by Andrea Page on August 10, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Lindsey, very good, detailed, suggestions. This is helpful information for all new grads and people in career transition. Our economy requires we develop new, effective strategies for developing our profiles.

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    Comment: Posted by Sam Diener on August 9, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Great post. Thank you for this.

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