LinkedIn has more 55 million registered companies, and some 86 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to help them find qualified candidates. This means if you’re looking to grow your career, using the networking platform is a necessity. And if you’re looking to improve your LinkedIn presence, then you’ll want to be sure you’re following the below best practices, which will make your LinkedIn profile as powerful as possible.
1. Choose the right headshot
Your headshot is the first thing people see when they visit your profile, so it’s important to choose a professional-looking photo. There are a lot of different ways to choose or create a suitable picture. You could ask your friends and family for photos of you that look clean and professional (nothing distracting in the background and you’re not wearing a T-shirt or baseball cap). You can ask a friend or family member to take a photo of you outside in nice light against a plain background (the iPhone’s “portrait” mode gives good results). Or you can get a professional photo taken. Whatever you decide, make sure to include a clear photo, one in which you’re preferably smiling and certainly not frowning.
2. Create a clear and concise headline
After your headshot, your headline (often called your “tagline”) is the next thing people see when visiting your profile, so it’s important to make a good impression with this short introduction. Your headline should be clear and concise, highlighting some of your achievements and what you’re best known for. Your headline quickly helps people learn about who you are and what you’re best at. One common mistake is only including your job title. Feel free to include much more, showcasing your uniqueness. For example, instead of just including “Marketing manager,” you could include something like: “Experienced marketing manager with a focus on consumer product, renewable energy, and tech sectors.”
3. Include keywords in your summary/about section
Your summary (or “About”) section is where you can include a few lines that describe you as an individual or professional. This is where you show the types of services or products you’ve worked with in the past and why people should hire you for certain roles. So, make sure to use keywords that describe your skills, experience, and knowledge so that people looking for someone with your skills and experience will find you more easily. Try to use action-oriented words, such as change, manage, develop, lead, empower, and help. You should also include numbers, dollars, and percentages where relevant. For example: “helped grow company from 6 people to 100+ people” or “helped increase annual subscribers by 85 percent.”
4. Get recommendations from people in your target field
Recommendations provide credibility and can help build up your profile. It’s important to include recommendations from people who know you well and are familiar with your skills, rather than people who you don’t know too well or those not too familiar with your work experience. Keep in mind that you don’t need to wait for someone to offer you a recommendation; feel free to ask your contacts if they’d be willing to write one for you. Chances are—if they know you well and have had good experiences working with you in the past—they will.
5. Add a link to your personal website, portfolio, or blog
As a LinkedIn member, you can add links to personal websites or blogs to your profile. This can be an effective way to allow people to take a deeper dive into the work you’ve done. It’s also a good idea to add specific details about what people will find at the link (a short description is fine). Along with linking to a website, personal blog, or resume, you can also include links to other sources of information such as videos. You should also use appropriate keywords for this section so that people searching for something similar will find you.
6. Join groups you want to participate in
LinkedIn groups are designed to promote professional growth, so be sure to join groups that are relevant to your target roles and industries. LinkedIn groups give you opportunities to highlight your expertise and knowledge, connect with potential future colleagues, share articles and information that might be helpful for other group members (which helps to boost your visibility), and ask questions of others (which can start conversations that lead to strong connections). One thing in groups to beware of is over-sharing. But when used properly and sparingly, groups are great ways to build strong relationships with contacts in your field—which can go a long toward getting the job and career you want.
Stacey Perry is a writer who covers career development and job search topics.