Your LinkedIn profile is a place for you to build your professional brand, showcase your achievements and skills, share content with other professionals, and connect with colleagues, business partners, and potential employers.
People come across your profile in a variety of ways. They might be searching for employees at your company or in your industry, remember you from a conference and remind themselves about your work, or simply want to learn more about your accomplishments. No matter how or why they end up on your LinkedIn page, however, there’s a shared and simple goal: Your LinkedIn profile needs to capture — and keep — their attention.
So what makes a profile stand out? How do you get more recommendations? What features can help you enhance your profile? Our step-by-step guide can help you craft a (near) perfect LinkedIn profile.
How to Craft the Perfect LinkedIn Profile
What is the perfect LinkedIn profile? Ideally, it’s one that gets you noticed for all the right reasons and helps you achieve your goals - whether this means expanding your reach, finding new contacts, or getting a job offer.
And while true perfection isn’t possible, there are steps you can take to help your profile stand out. From simple things like making sure you’ve uploaded a great picture to more in-depth efforts such as creating a compelling headline and bio, you’ve got options when it comes to perfecting your profile.
Ready to make the most of your LinkedIn profile? Get as close to perfect as possible with these LinkedIn profile guidelines.
1. Upload a great profile picture.
First up? Upload a great profile picture. According to Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, Jane Deehan, your profile picture should be recent, look like you and your face should take up around 60 percent of the total space. The goal here is to look like you normally look at work, in turn making it easier for prospective contacts who may have only met you virtually to recognize you from your profile picture.
2. Add your pronouns.
Pronouns are an important part of the remote and in-person work ecosystem, and by adding them up-front you can avoid any awkwardness later on. Whether it’s she/her, he/him, they/them or another combination that best fits your identity, including your pronouns is always worth it on your LinkedIn profile.
3. Set a background photo.
Along with your profile photo, you can also set a wider background photo that showcases a bit more about you. Here, it’s not as important that you (or your face) are in the shot, but you want to make it something that’s memorable and tells visitors more about you as a person. If you’re a freelancer working from home, for example, you might include a picture of you in your office hard at work. If you’re a professional fitness instructor, meanwhile, you might opt for an action shot of you in the gym.
4. Create a great headline.
Your headline can also help boost your profile impact. While this short description is often used for job titles, you can take it a step further by adding a bit more detail about your current role, what it means to you or what you’ve accomplished.
“Creative and passionate, results-driven go-getter that helps brands think outside the box.”
5. Cut the buzzwords.
These types of self-promotional sentences are common on LinkedIn, but they’re ultimately shallow. Full of buzzwords and jargon, they don’t offer any real insights into your accomplishments or professional connections — instead, they’re a generic rehashing of terms recruiters have seen hundreds of times before. Best bet? Cut the buzzwords. Instead, be clear and specific about your accomplishments.
6. Tell your story.
You’ve got a story to tell, and your LinkedIn summary lets you tell it however you want. And while some professionals simply use it as a way to list their recent job titles or most valuable skills, it’s got potential as a way to connect with prospective employers and colleagues by providing more information about who you are — what led you to your current job. Why? What are you looking for next?
7. Sync your profile.
It’s also worth syncing your profile with your email address book — though make sure you’ve got company permission if you’re using your assigned work email address. Equipped with this email data, LinkedIn can recommend connections that might share similar interests or offer endorsements for your skills, and since you get to vet all connections you’re always in control of who gets contacted.
8. Highlight Your Skills.
One of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile is your skill list. The platform makes it easy to search and select skills that match your experience and expertise, but this comes with a word of caution: The sheer number of skills available on LinkedIn makes it easy to go overboard and inundate your profile with talents that are only tangentially related to current or prospective work. While highlighting your skills is critical, make sure they’re relevant.
9. Share relevant content.
Speaking of relevancy, profiles don’t exist in a vacuum. As a result, it’s worth sharing relevant content, such as thought leadership posts you’ve created yourself or those from industry influencers as part of your profile page. If potential connections find and click through on great content from your profile, they’re more likely to come back.
10. Stay connected.
It’s also a good idea to stay connected once your profile is up and running. Stop by for at least 15 minutes a week to see what you’ve missed, make comments on relevant stories and answer any messages.
11. Post new content.
Put simply? While a solid LinkedIn profile is a great start, it requires regular maintenance to perform over time.
Although LinkedIn is distinctly different from social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, it still relies on content updates to keep things fresh and interesting. As a result, it’s worth posting new content — either material you’ve created on your own for public consumption or the work of other leaders in your industry that you find interesting.
12. Go public.
If you want connections to find you and recruiters to track you down, you need to make your profile public. It’s an easy process: Head to your LinkedIn page and click on the “Me” button under your profile picture at the top of the page, then select “View Profile”. Now, you’ll see an option for Edit Public Profile and URL — select this option and you can toggle your public profile status on and off, and control who can see your profile picture.
13. Keep your location updated.
It’s also worth keeping your location up-to-date to help connections and recruiters find you more easily. For example, let’s say your name is John Smith and you’re a software developer in Houston, Texas. When recruiters go looking for new talent, location is a key factor — including your location helps companies narrow their search more quickly and increases your chances of getting a message.
14. Get a custom URL.
While you’re on the Edit Profile and URL page, it’s worth customizing your URL to make finding your profile easier. When you join LinkedIn, you’ll typically be assigned a URL that contains parts of your first and last name along with a random string of numbers. Where possible, remove the numbers and make your URL your full first and last name. If this is taken, try adding a middle initial or the industry you work in.
15. Update your contact info.
In the example above, John Smith might change his assigned URL to something like www.linkedin.com/in/JohnSmith. If that’s not available, he might try JohnCSmith or JohnSmithSoftwareDev.
If your contact info is out of date, you may miss opportunities. While some recruiters and connections will use the built-in LinkedIn messaging platform, others prefer emails or phone calls. By keeping your information current, you increase the chances of getting connected.
16. Request recommendations.
Although skill endorsements are great to highlight your areas of expertise, recommendations take things to the next level with a personalized testimonial about time spent working together, projects completed or skills developed. Consider reaching out to close contacts for recommendations that are relevant to your current role — or next career goal.
17. Follow your interests.
LinkedIn serves a huge variety of professionals with a myriad of passions, meaning there’s something there for just about everyone. To ensure that you’re both engaging with the platform at large and connecting with the right people for your career and brand goals, it’s worth finding and following people who share similar interests. Even if they don’t directly align with your job role or prospective positions, cultivating a broad interest base can help boost the impact of your profile.
18. Spotlight your services.
Maybe you’re a freelance writer, software developer, or marketing guru. Maybe you have specialized certifications or training that sets you apart from the crowd. Your LinkedIn profile is a great place to highlight these services and let people know that you’re more than just your job — you’re a talented, interesting, and knowledgeable individual that brings significant value to any role.
19. Customize your invites.
While many connections occur organically on LinkedIn, there will be situations where you’ll want to reach out and make specific connections. For this to be effective, however, you need to create a customized invite that provides a snapshot of your profile highlights — who you are, what you do, and why it matters — along with a personalized message about why this connection matters to you. With so many users and so many requests, it’s important to stand out from the crowd.
20. Curate your network.
Big networks are great. Networks that are too big, however, can take focus away from the primary purpose of your profile: Connecting with like-minded and skilled individuals to expand your industry impact and potentially advance your career. The result? Make sure to occasionally curate your network so your profile remains aligned with your goals.
21. Make regular improvements.
Last but not least? Don’t let your profile sit idle for too long. In addition to regularly interacting with the site to make new posts and engage with new connections, it’s a good idea to regularly update your profile with new information about your current job or job-seeking status, new skills you’ve obtained, or projects you’ve completed. Not only does this demonstrate consistency, but it also shows that you’re continuing to grow and learn — something prospective employers or partners are always looking for.
Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect
The better your LinkedIn profile, the better your chances of connecting with thought leaders, capturing the attention of other professionals, and finding new growth opportunities. And while there’s no such thing as a “perfect” LinkedIn profile, you can get close to the mark with these tips.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.