Professionals and businesses pay to be able to search the 575 million profiles (260 million active) on LinkedIn, so it makes sense to put time (and maybe money) into writing a LinkedIn profile that will get you found.
I have been writing LinkedIn profiles for nearly four years, knee-deep in the platform that has been rapidly growing since Microsoft purchased it in 2016.
Here are my best practices for writing a LinkedIn profile for maximum visibility:
Focus on Your LinkedIn Headline
There are multiple approaches to take with your LinkedIn headline, but it is one of the most important aspects of your profile.
Your headline is one of the heaviest-weighted items of your LinkedIn profile, so it is important to think through your primary LinkedIn goal and whether your target audience will be searching for you or finding you through inbound marketing (e.g. they see you post because of organic reach or through the post of a mutual connection).
- If your target audience will be searching for you — you are hoping to be found by a recruiter or staffing agent or your potential client will be searching for your services — comprise your headline of keywords.
- If you expect your target audience to find you via inbound marketing, make sure the first 50-70 characters of your headline will draw them in. Depending on your audience, this may be keywords, but I’ve also seen people write coy or sarcastic headlines that are incredibly effective.
- If you are a top-level executive, consider your title and company only. If you are a C-level executive of a Fortune 500 company or are in a specialized industry like finance or medicine, a minimalist headline may be the best approach. Add keywords in your Current Experience or Skills sections.
Write A Summary with A Strategy
Just as there are multiple approaches to take with your LinkedIn headline, there are multiple approaches to take with your LinkedIn summary. The majority of the time, your summary should serve the same purpose as a cover letter: it should summarize your professional journey and your expertise.
If your primary focus on LinkedIn is sales, you may want to promote your product or service using your Summary. A few things to remember with your LinkedIn summary:
- Your first three lines should draw in your audience. When someone clicks to view your LinkedIn profile, they will see your banner, headshot, headline, and the first paragraph of your summary (see above). If that first paragraph doesn’t draw them in, they’re more than likely clicking away.
- Include keywords: Your summary is heavily weighted for search, so make sure you are including keywords and phrases throughout your copy.
- Add two links that support your expertise or business: How links are displayed has changed many times in recent years. Currently, having two links is (in my opinion) the best option because you can see the headline along with the thumbnail. This is much more attractive than 5-6 teeny tiny thumbnails across the bottom of a section.
Make Your Current Experience Section(s) Count
You can have more than one current experience section, and they are heavily weighted for search. If a user with Sales Navigator or Recruiter is using the “Title” field, what you have listed as your current experience headline will be searched for a match.
- If you are looking for a job, think through what a recruiter or hiring manager would type into that title field and make sure it is a part of your current experience headline!
- If you are unemployed, create a current experience section to position yourself as a consultant. Be creative if you have to, but this serves multiple purposes: it adds valuable keywords to your profile and it fills an unemployment gap.
- If you are selling on LinkedIn, make sure you populate your current experience section with relevant keywords and/or services your target audience would search for.
- If you are an executive on LinkedIn, include your title first and then add other keywords after that. For example: “CEO of The Best Company | Website Management and Design for Fortune 500 Companies”
Complete Your Skills Section
This is especially important for anyone unemployed or looking to make a job change. LinkedIn Recruiter has a search field for Skills, which recruiters or hiring managers will fill out to narrow a candidate search. LinkedIn job postings also include specific skills ideal candidates should possess.
If possible, use already-established skills. You can type anything you want into the skills section, but it’s best if you use common terms.
Choose what you believe to be your most relevant skills to put in the top three.
Make Your Profile Public
If you are trying to be found on LinkedIn, make it easy. Whether you like it or not, having a headshot and making it visible increases trust.
In fact, LinkedIn users with a profile photo receive:
- up to 21X more profile views
- up to 36X more messages
- up to 9X more connection requests
Other Important LinkedIn Profile Best Practices
- Make sure each section is linked to the appropriate company page. When you begin to type in the business you work with, the page should populate for you to select.
- If you have your own business, you must create a company page for your logo to show up on your personal profile!
- Write articles specifically for LinkedIn or cross-post your articles natively on LinkedIn. This adds more to your LinkedIn profile because your most recent article is prominently displayed in the “Articles & Activity” section!
Any questions I didn’t address?
You can also download my free LinkedIn Profile Optimization Checklist!