You’ve got a custom LinkedIn URL. You’ve got a killer headline. You’ve got lots of endorsements, specifically curated to showcase your most impressive skills, and glowing recommendations up the wazoo.
So with all that covered, you’re now ready to take your LinkedIn to a whole new level. Check out the seven key changes you can make to upgrade your profile.
1. Cover Your Bases
According to Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn’s career expert, your summary section is one of the most important aspects of your profile.
Which means you need to communicate three things very quickly: who you are, what you have done, and what you can do.
Or, a global e-commerce manager might put, Head of Global E-commerce. Merged commerce and brand into unified digital experience, but he doesn’t add, Specialties: Google Analytics; advanced Excel knowledge; SEO, PPC, image software. He’s got what he’s done, but not what he can do.
Pull up your LinkedIn summary right now and check to make sure it ticks all three boxes. If not, it’s time to edit.
2. But Don’t Make Your Summary Too Long
LinkedIn’s cut-off for your summary section is 2,000 characters. While you might be tempted to use each and every one, Fisher cautions, “Be succinct.”
As a basic rule of thumb, it should be between 450 and 650 characters. Any shorter, and you’re not communicating all the vital info; any longer, and you’re rambling or including irrelevant details.
My summary section is on the longer side (650 characters) because I have a “teaser,” a personal anecdote about myself that not only catches the reader’s attention, but also epitomizes my drive, persistence, and work ethic.
3. Use Visuals
There’s no one-page rule for LinkedIn, which means you can include all your experience. But people don’t magically have a longer attention span for your profile versus your resume, so if you have a lot to say, you’ll need to find a way to make it visually interesting.
That’s why Fisher recommends taking full advantage of the media add-ons.
“People are drawn to great visuals,” she says. “Plus, it’s easier to get a sense of what you’ve done.”
For example, rather than writing, “Launched Stanford University’s new retail dining facility” and leaving it at that, you could include the flyer Stanford put out to promote the new food hall. If you have “Led seminar on how to improve internal communication for 200 company employees,” then include a link to the video of the seminar or the PowerPoint you used while giving it.
With all of the options LinkedIn gives you, it really doesn’t matter what career or industry you’re in—you can find a way to incorporate media. (Check this article for a more in-depth explanation of how to do it.)
4. Shorten Your Experience Section
Most users pack five or six bullets under each job position. But unless you’ve only had a couple jobs, stick to two or three. (Executive positions, on the other hand, merit five or six.)
“Our recommendation is short highlights with punchy language,” Fisher says. “Include the job scope and a couple wins for each position.”
The good news is, you’re no stranger to quantifying your achievements for your resume.
And remember, you’re appealing to a wide audience here, including potential employers, recruiters, and other professionals, so your wording should reflect that. Don’t pack it so full of jargon that only your (current) boss would have enough context to know what you’re talking about. The more concise your bullets are, the easier it’ll be for any viewer to understand them.
Bonus: To make your profile super-readable, pull up a blank Word document, copy a bullet point, and manually paste those bullet points into your LinkedIn, like so:
5. Utilize the Groups Section
The vast majority of LinkedIn users aren’t taking full advantage of the groups section. Most people join seven or eight, but the site lets you add up to 50.
But did you know you can also use them to signal a recruiter you’d be a good hire? Let’s say you’re trying to make the switch from operations manager at a hospital to project coordinator for a fitness company. You should join at least seven or eight program management-related groups; this will demonstrate you’re serious about—and ready for—the change.
The same goes if you’re staying in your industry. Think of 10 people who are above you, go to their profiles, and join the groups they’re in.
“It all ties back to your professional brand,” Fisher says.
6. Add a Background Picture
I see lots of profiles that don’t have background photos at all. But remember, the more visual your profile is, the better! Everyone should use this feature.
And you’re not limited to generic shots, either. My background picture used to be a picture of a laptop keyboard, but I’ve switched to a “candid” picture of myself writing. This personalizes my profile and strengthens my professional brand.
“It’s just another opportunity to make a profile pop,” Fisher says.
Besides photos of yourself at work, you can use this real estate to showcase a current project, promote a work campaign, include a call to action, push people to a link (like your personal site), highlight the awards you’ve won, or include a short testimonial.
7. Choose Your Skills Strategically
Maybe you’re a data scientist who’s mastered Java and Python, but you still have a long way to go with programming language R. Is it better to put all three, or should you limit your skills to the ones you’re proudest of or most confident in?
Fisher recommends the former approach.
“Include the skills you want to be known for,” she explains. “For example, if you’re working in media, include the skills that’ll help you grow your career, like writing, editing, blogging, etc.”
You can also rearrange your skills so the ones you’re proudest of show up first—regardless of how many people have endorsed you for them.
Say you’re in sales, and you’re trying to move into the enterprise software space. If you’re taking an Intro to Enterprise Software course, put “enterprise software” at the top of your Skills (and then ask some of your co-workers who know you’re taking the class to endorse you).
Just click “manage endorsements,” then drag your desired skill(s) to the top.
Now that you’ve put the ultimate touches on your LinkedIn, check out what you should be doing every month, week, and day on the platform to make the most of your new profile.