In this in-depth guide on LinkedIn optimization, I’ll go over the top 6 things you need do to fine-tune your LinkedIn profile and share all of the best practices I’ve learned in my 18 year career in large tech to ensure that you are creating an amazing LinkedIn profile and leveraging LinkedIn’s capabilities to the max and putting yourself in the best spot for that next job opportunity.
(Watch the video version of this article here: YouTube Link)
There are approximately 49 million people searching for jobs on LinkedIn each week — with about 77 job applications submitted every single second, according to this Zippia LinkedIn survey.
Additionally, 87% of recruiters find LinkedIn to be the most effective platform for vetting job candidates — and job applicants with a robust profile on the network are 71% more likely to get a callback for a job interview than candidates that don’t have a LinkedIn profile at all. (Sources: Zippia, Forbes, Jobvite articles.)
And all of that results, in an average, of 6 people being hired through LinkedIn every single second.
These stats are impressive, but the success and potential that theses stats convey, only work if your LinkedIn Profile is optimized and you’re utilizing the platform to the fullest.
So, today, in this in depth article on LinkedIn optimization, I’ll go over the top 6 things you need do to fine-tune your LinkedIn profile and share all of the best practices I’ve learned in my 18 year career in large tech — to ensure that you are completely leveraging LinkedIn’s capabilities to the max and putting yourself in the best spot for that next job opportunity.
1. Upload Professional Profile & Banner Images
Your profile picture is extremely important in your LinkedIn profile.
Statistics show that LinkedIn members with a professional photo receive far more engagement — 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests than those without.
But if you don’t have the time or money to go get a professional headshot done, what are you supposed to do? Well, not to worry, because it’s actually pretty easy to get a crisp and professional looking portrait made for your profile — using just your smartphone.
Here’s how you do it.
a) Dress the part
The very first step here, is of course, to dress the part.
You’ll want to wear something that is business casual — which means it’s formal enough to go to a job interview, but also casual enough to be every day office wear. A business casual blouse or a nice collared shirt and jacket should do the trick.
Once you’ve got your fit down, there are actually 2 simple items you need besides your smart phone, in order to take a good self portrait.
The first is this cheap cell phone holder — so that you can mount your phone in an upright position. And the other is a simple light stand to get your elevated phone to the right height. Both of these are cheap and easy items to procure on Amazon.com.
b) Find a good location & snap the picture
Next you’ll need to find a good location where you have a nice backdrop. A nature or professional office location works best.
For the purpose of this article, I chose to drive out to our local shopping mall area where there’s this nice artificial water fall structure, next to the mall entrance.
Once you’re at your selected location, you’ll want to make sure you choose a good angle and also position yourself to stand with a little bit of separation between you and your background, at least 4ft -5ft of distance. This will help us achieve a good blurry background effect that’s present in most good headshots.
Now, make sure your stand and cell phone holder are securely positioned, and if you have an iPhone, be sure to put it in portrait mode at this time — then set a timer and walk into the center of your frame.
And there you go, you should have a profile image similar to this.
If you’re satisfied with this image, you can use it as is, but if you want to change the background to a different design or color, then these next couple of steps are for you.
c) Image editing (changing the background, etc)
Adobe has an amazing tool that allows you to edit your images for free: Adobe Express Free Background Remover. Simply go to the site and create a free login.
Then upload your photo and wait for the system to open up into the dashboard which has a lot of robust features on editing your image. You can resize it, swap the background and even play with the hue and saturation of your image. To see the tool in action, watch my YouTube video that outlines this process.
d) LinkedIn Banner Image
On your LinkedIn profile page, you’ll notice that in addition to the profile image element, there is also a background banner section in this area.
This one is an easy one to complete. Simply go to a free stock photo site like Pexels or Unsplash, and search for a background photo that would be a good representation of your professional brand. (You can download and use these images for free, per their terms & conditions.)
Once you have the banner image you want — all there is left to do is to upload both your profile and banner image onto your LinkedIn profile page.
2. Optimize your LinkedIn Title & Headline
Once you’ve got your imagery set, the next most important element to focus on is your title / headline.
Your title is your initial brand statement, as well as one of the most important SEO factors on your profile. You’ve got 220 characters to use in this area, which is about 30–50 words typically — so every single word here counts.
The structure of your headline should include your main title, amplifiers of that title and then any critical key words that you want to be known and searchable for.
Here’s an example of how I would write it for my Daniel’s Brew LinkedIn profile.
A good place to start, is with what your industry title is, and what domain or segment you work in.
Then you’ll want to include any areas or subjects that you specialize in and want to be discoverable for — these I call amplifiers. For me, it’s Career Development and Personal Finance.
And lastly you’ll want to include any accomplishments and other key concepts or aspects that may set you apart from the other people that show up along-side you in a search result.
In this case for me, what sets me apart from a lot of the other Career Content Creators out there is my 18 yrs of large tech leadership experience.
Additionally, your headline should read from the perspective of a recruiter or a potential hiring manager — so you’ll want to omit things like “open to new opportunities, or seeking new roles, etc” — or anything else that might detract from what a potential hiring team might be searching for. Phrases like “seeking new jobs or opportunities” aren’t as helpful from a searcher’s perspective — so it’s better to use that character count on other additional key words that might make you more discoverable.
The main focus of this section is all on the key words that make you more searchable and ultimately more clickable — so that you appear more frequently to potential recruiters, get more contact requests, and more LinkedIn InMails asking you if you’re interested in an open position.
3. Enhance the About Section
Your about section is your chance to provide a brief summary of who you are and what your skills and capabilities are to your readers.
As a best practice, you’ll want to write a brief 4–5 sentence overview of your background, personal & professional values and your core competencies, followed by a short bullet list of your most important skills.
Remember, this area also plays a role in you searchability, so you also make sure you also incorporate the keywords you want to be visible for, in this section as well.
Luckily for us, with the advent of ChatGPT — completing your about section in your LinkedIn Profile is as easy as ever. Here’s how you do it.
a) First — log on to ChatGPT and give it the following 3 prompts:
- You are an experienced resume writer
- Read the following resume and provide a career summary highlighting key accomplishments
- Limit the response to 800 characters and write in paragraph form with no bullet points
b) Then paste your resume into the tool and wait for it to generate the summary. You should get back a pretty robust synopsis of your career highlights in under 800 characters. But be sure you also look over this draft and ensure that your key words are properly incorporated.
Next, you’ll want to brainstorm and list out all of your key skills in bullet form below this — to increase the SEO of your page and also showcase the different capabilities you have.
And there you go — your about section should now be complete.
4. Fine-Tune the Job Experience Section
In this section, one of the things I see most in other people’s LinkedIn profiles is that — people tend to put their entire resume content into this section.
That is not what this section is for.
This section is meant to give a quick timeline of your past experience with just enough detail for the reader to understand the jist of your work history and incent them to want to know more details about you.
It’s like the previews to the movies, it’s designed to draw you in and make you want to go watch the actual movie — in this case, that actual movie being a connection request to touch base and see your full resume.
So, I’d recommend writing out in detail your job title section, including what org and department you worked in, but then only adding one quick sentence that highlights your top level job responsibilities and your most impactful contribution in the role. This gives the reader a sufficient overview of the scope of your role — and what impact you have had thus far.
And if done right — and written compelling enough for them, they’d reach out with a connection request to learn more about your body of work in each of your roles.
You want to be detailed enough in this section to peak the interest of the recruiter for a relevant job opportunity, but not too detailed to the point where you might get summarily passed over for an open role, if there is something specific written in there that the recruiter feels isn’t a match for their position.
Don’t let the description of your roles in this section weed out your potential opportunities — let the initial conversations with the recruiter, when they reach out, make that determination for you.
5. Bolster your Network & Affiliations
Next your network and affiliations will help you amplify your searchability and bolster up the gravity of your profile.
The easiest way to build up your affiliations is to join LinkedIn groups and follow companies and influencers that you have interest in.
To do so, you just go to the search bar at the top, seek out companies and influencers you want to follow and simply click on the follow or join button under the entities that show up on your search results.
Additionally, to grow your network, make sure you reach out to your colleagues and contacts to request a LI connection. The north star you want to aim for here — is having 500 or more connections for your LinkedIn profile. Once you have over 500, LinkedIn shows you as having 500+ connections — which is what all the most robust profiles show.
But one important note about reaching out for connections, if you’re a job seeker, make sure you request connections mostly from people you actually know.
The real strength of your network comes from the relationship capital you have built within the people in the network — so if your LinkedIn profile is only a collection of random people you’ve never met before, the tensile strength of your network will be really light, meaning you’ll have a large network in number only, without a lot of advocacy in that web. So it’s important to keep in mind the quality of your connections — as you build up to that 500+ number.
Also, as an extension of this, you’ll want to further leverage the strength of your network by gathering recommendations from your contacts that you’ve had positive work relations with.
Most people have between 6–10 recommendations on their profile, so to stand out, try to gather at least 15–20 recommendations, over the course of your career, if you can.
One of the best times to request recommendations is either right after you work with this person to complete a big project or initiative, or when you leave a particular job or company in which you worked closely with this person. And when you request a recommendation, the right way to request it, is to ask them to write it with the following guidelines:
- First ask them to highlight the context or background of your work relationship. For example, “I collaborated with Daniel at company XX to launch a mini-series on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for young working professionals in the tech industry.”
- Then ask them to highlight a key success factor of the project or initiative that you both contributed to. “Our partnership helped to provide 5 actionable modules that drove significant engagement for our member’s profiles.”
- Lastly, ask them to share a stand out trait or ability that they noticed in your work. “I was particularly impressed with Daniel’s work ethic and his ability to meet our seemingly impossible deadline. His contribution was the key factor in launching our mini-series on time.”
This format / structure gives the reader a clear view of what the nature of the work relationship was, how you partnered together in the actual instantiation of the work and what specific value you brought to the table.
And when a hiring manager is looking to make a final offer decision, a well written recommendation may be the clinching factor — if you happen to be neck-and-neck with another qualified candidate.
6. Establish the Right Privacy & Public Settings
Lastly, here are the privacy, public settings and administrative tasks I recommend you complete in your profile, in order to fully polish up your LinkedIn presence.
First, if you go to the add to profile button, it’ll open up a list of other profile sections that might be useful for you to fill out.
In addition to what we covered earlier in this article, completing your education, skills, licenses, certificates, trainings, and awards sections would be really beneficial. The more you fill in, the more robust your profile becomes — I’d recommend going through each line item and adding as much detail as you can.
Next, you’ll want to review your public profile. Here, you’ll want to edit your custom URL to something is that friendly and easy for readers to remember.
In this section, you’ll also find the toggle button to make your profile externally visible — and also the option to decide which elements of your profile you want to make visible to those that find you via search.
Just remember, the more you activate, the more it contributes to your searchability — so if you are currently seeking a new role, it might be worth turning on all of these buttons.
And lastly in the settings and privacy section, there are a few things you’ll want to pay attention to, in the Visibility tab.
a) Profile Viewing Options: In this section, there are 3 viewing options you can choose from:
Name and Headline, which means when you look at someone’s profile, your picture, full name, title and industry will show up to them on their “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” page,
or Private Profile Characteristics — which generalizes your profile details
or Private Mode — in which you’ll appear in that person’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” section as simply a LinkedIn Member, with no other information about you being shared to them.
It is important to note, however, that if you have a basic LinkedIn account, and choose to browse in private mode, you actually won’t be able to see who’s viewed your profile either. The only way to do that would be to have a paid premium account, in which case you can browse in private mode and still see the list of people who viewed your profile in the last 90 days.
b) Who can see or download your email address: Next in email visibility, you can also set which cohort of LinkedIn members can view your email address.
While you don’t want your email out there for just anyone to see — if you are actively seeking new roles, it might be beneficial for at least your 1st and 2nd degree connections to be able to see this on your profile.
c) Visibility of your LinkedIn Activity: Next, is this whole bottom section that shows Visibility of your LinkedIn activity.
The first line here is Manage active status — which lets you decide which cohort of LinkedIn members can see that you are currently active on LinkedIn. It’s kind of like that status indicator on your Microsoft Teams or Zoom profile that shows green for active, yellow for idle, etc. (I usually keep this hidden on my profile.)
Next is Sharing profile updates with your network. If you toggle this on, whenever you update your job description, your profile summary, title, etc — it’ll broadcast to your network’s feed that you’ve made this update. If you are revising your profile because you are job seeking and you don’t want anyone to know, you might want to turn this feature off.
And that’s it — while there are far more than just those settings that you can adjust in your profile, in my opinion, these that I’ve mentioned, are the most critical you’ll need to review to ensure your LinkedIn profile is fine tuned.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful in optimizing your LinkedIn presence. And with these refinements, I hope you get far more visibility to the right people on LinkedIn, to help you in your career journey — cheers!
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**** Disclaimer *****
The content here is strictly the opinion of Daniel’s Brew and is for entertainment purposes only. It should not be considered professional financial, investment, or career advice. Investing and career decisions are personal choices that each individual must make for themselves in accordance with their situation and long term plans. Daniel’s Brew will not be held liable for any outcome as a result of anyone following the opinions provided in this content.