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12 Ways to Build a Better LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn’s functionality and capability has changed over the years and perhaps that is why you’ll find varying pieces of advice and wisdom. More and more, savvy recruiters and employers are using LinkedIn to search for the right talent.  Will you be found?  Here are 12 tips to building a better LinkedIn profile.

Tip 1:  Get a decent Headshot

Having a clear, professional, friendly looking picture of you (and you alone) is expected.  In fact, most profiles do have photos, so when I see a profile without one, my immediate and lasting impression is…why doesn’t this person have a picture, for crying out loud?  Really, is that the impression you want to leave? Here are some interesting stats on why you should have a photo.

Tip 2:  Your Professional Headline should mean something

By default LinkedIn will use your most recent job title for you professional headline.  If that is not the job title you want to be known for, then edit your profile.  This is one of the first things a visitor will see, so if the message isn’t clear or exactly right, you could lose them. For examples of enticing headlines, check out these.

Tip 3:  Make Your Summary Sing

Your summary, much like the summary on the back of a book jacket, is what compels people to read more and take interest.  In the olden days, it was acceptable to have a cut and paste version of the summary from your resume. But in reality, LinkedIn is a social network and people want to know you a little deeper.  I see more and  more summaries written in the first person,  “I value..” “My lifelong dream…” .  This makes it more personal.  I am not suggesting it get too personal, just real enough so your true personality shines through.

Tip 4: Key Words Count

Employers and recruiters are masters of search.  They know the key words they are looking for.  Do you use key words in your summary? Have you added Specialties?  You should know what the right key words are for your industry and occupation.  These are typically the specific skills required in job postings, and no, I am not talking about “hard-working”, “dedicated”, “trustworthy”.  I am talking about software, terms and industry knowledge.  Get familiar with this and begin to immediately incorporate them into your summary.  If you don’t use them…you don’t have them.

Tip 5: Turn off your activity broadcasts*

What is that, you may ask?  Whenever you make changes to your profile (any change) every one of your contacts is notified.  If you are in stealth job search, you don’t want to tip off your network as you make changes.  It is unfortunate, but all too often true, that people don’t update their LinkedIn profile until they are ready to search.  You can stop these activity broadcasts by changing your settings.  Pssst: if you are already an active user of LinkedIn add people to your connections and regularly update your profile, this may not send any red flags.

*CLARIFICATION:  Yes, you do want to ping your connections but with the right pings.  Tons of updates to your profile all of a sudden is a sure sign you are looking for a new job.  Once you have made edits to your profile, turn this notification BACK ON! (Thanks Greg Taylor, for your comment!)

Tip 6: Update your status every once in awhile

Your status pings your connections in their Network activity.  This can be a super way to increase your networks awareness of you.  It is also a great way to begin building your personal reputation.  Examples of things to update your status with?  An event you will be attending- including the link; a great article about your industry or occupation; good news about your company, you or a colleague; recommendation of a book; anything that shows you are professionally committed.

Tip 7:  Add all your email addresses

If you have only listed your work email, you will absolutely want to include your personal emails as well.  What happens if you are unexpectedly asked to leave your employer?  You no longer have access to your work email and therefore, lose access to your LinkedIn profile.  While this can be fixed, it takes a bit of work on your part, so be smart and include your other email addresses.  Additionally, this helps people connect with you.  LinkedIn recognizes you by your email, so if someone sends you an email to connect via LinkedIn to your personal email address and you haven’t listed it within your profile, LinkedIn doesn’t know you have a profile and this frequently results in duplicate profiles.

Tip 8:  Don’t use the default Public Profile URL

If you haven’t started including a link to your LinkedIn public profile, you should.  Put it on your resume, your business cards and use it in your email signature.  But before you do this, customize the URL so it just includes your name.  It looks more professional.

Tip 9: Stop Hiding

You want to be visible.  You want people to know if you’ve looked at their profile.  Can you stop using “anonymous LinkedIn user”!  And really, why don’t you want me to know your last name?  If you will be searching for new employment or are seeking employment, open up your profile and let people see who you are.

Tip 10: Enrich your profile with media

Showcase examples of your work using Slideshare or Box files.  Maybe you have customer testimonials or letters of recommendation that you want to show off.  Create a presentation or scan the letter into Box for everyone to have access to.  I use them on my profile. I wrote about using LinkedIn’s apps in this post: Make your LinkedIn richer by embedding media.

Tip 11:  Website links? Customize those too!

Instead of using LinkedIn’s default title for linked websites/urls, “My company website” “Other website”, you can edit their labels. They have to be short to be viewable.  It really helps the viewer understand what they’ll find if they decide to click through.  (That’s what you want, isn’t it?)

Tip 12:  Yes, you really should get recommendations

You can’t be sure they will tip the scales in your favor, but you shouldn’t discount them either.  Give to get is the motto.  Write a recommendation for a colleague, partner, vendor, manager… someone you worked with and genuinely would like to share your appreciation towards.

Wrapping Up

I really wanted this to be called, how to build a better mouse trap…because you want your profile to “catch” the viewer’s attention…. Any other suggestions you would make?

If you aren’t familiar with Jason Alba’s book, videos and blog:  “I’m On LinkedIn…Now What?“, he provides great insight and help! If you are looking for other resources and help with LinkedIn, you can see some of the many resources for social tools on my Resources page (including LinkedIn).

Any other tips you would like to suggest?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Greg Taylor October 4, 2011, 6:34 am

    Wonderful summary again, Hannah. I take exception to tip 5, however. The person browsing the headline will read activity broadcasts as a “bad thing” when it is critical and should be set to “on” most of the time… EXCEPT when you are making frequent updates as you suggest.

    Setting the activity broadcast “on” shares your updates like events attended, new blog postings, questions asked and answered, recommendations processed etc. This makes a profile dynamic, not a tombstone. Hiring managers can be intrigued when reviewing the activity stream on a profile.

    • Hannah Morgan October 4, 2011, 6:43 am

      Greg, I re-read #5 and my point didn’t come across as clearly as I wanted. I absolutely agree, activities should be seen by your connections…except when you are making tons of updates AND in STEALTH job search. I’m revising now!

  • Marc Miller October 4, 2011, 3:49 pm

    Interesting discussion on #5.

    I wrote a blog post on how to keep your boss from knowing you are looking for a job. http://www.careercoachaustintexas.com/?p=321

    This was to turn off broadcasts, like Hannah suggests, while you are making updates. There is a video out there that shows how.

  • Ed Han October 5, 2011, 7:40 am

    Hannah, excellent suggestions all around, but then again, I’m always a fan of your consistently great content!

    At the risk of seeming rude, I thought some of your readers might be interested in a quiz I put up earlier this week that assesses one’s LinkedIn knowledge:


  • Nina Scott October 7, 2011, 8:40 am

    Hannah and Ed,

    Really enjoy both of your posts! You are a dynamic duo helping to bridge the social media/technology divide which is so strongly correlated with job attainment succuss. Thank you to you both for your informative information. I will RT both of your posts for sure, and, I have shared both of your links on my FB fan page. http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Impression-Resumes/230117023688874 I am committed to helping bridge that divide, and when I see good articles which are part of the solution, I like to share. Thanks for being part of the solution! 🙂

  • Albin Stööp February 5, 2012, 8:28 am

    Thanks Hannah for these wonderful tips, I found 3-4 of them really helpful to increase the visibility and useness of my profile.

  • David Hilditch August 28, 2012, 9:24 pm


  • qnary December 6, 2012, 6:53 pm

    Make sure to keep your LinkedIn profile updated and open for anyone to view.  You never know when the right person will view your profile and be interested in talking to you.