LinkedIn is so much more than a social network. More than 30,000 companies are using LinkedIn to recruit in 2019. Still, with more than 590 million users –154 million in the United States alone – it’s vital to stand apart from the crowd.
So what profiles garner their users the most success? An attractive and up-to-date LinkedIn profile looks very different in 2019 than it did just a few years ago. At one time, a LinkedIn user might have found it enough to use LinkedIn as an online resume, listing contact information, job experiences, education and skills.
But it’s no longer enough for job seekers and career aspirers merely to have a presence on LinkedIn. The most fruitful profiles will be sure to include the following 10 elements:
Recruiters have plenty on their plates. There’s no way they have time to closely read every LinkedIn profile, so it’s important to stand out from the start. The headline is there to grab hold of attention and summarize the user as a professional.
Headlines also appear with users’ names in LinkedIn search results and profile suggestions, as well as in the results of some search engines, so make it worthwhile. The most successful headlines are creative and unique, yet short, sweet and too the point.
Too many LinkedIn users neglect their summary. It’s often left blank or filled with nothing more than a short tagline. But the summary section offers professionals an excellent opportunity to market themselves and their brands. It’s part of the first impression left upon profile visitors.
The summary section offers users a generous 2,000 characters – an average of 300-350 words – to reflect their personality, optimize search terms and tell their career stories. Don’t waste this valuable real estate!
SAP’s Kirsten Boileau recommends structuring the LinkedIn summary in four paragraphs:
Paragraph 1 should showcase knowledge and experience, explaining the ways it has helped customers or clients.
Paragraph 2 should discuss what you or your company bring to the table with experience, products and services.
Paragraph 3 can be used to describe personal and professional passions, such as problem solving, customer service or even personal and professional hobbies. The section should showcase a professional’s personality.
Paragraph 4 should be reserved for a call-to-action, encourage visitors connect with you on LinkedIn, follow you on Twitter, email you or reach out to you about a job.
3. Skills and Endorsements
The Featured Skills and Endorsements section provides recruiters with an understanding of your qualifications in a glance. One of the most important parts of the LinkedIn profile in 2019, the section allows users to list their skills, and other users can endorse them.
According to LinkedIn, members showcasing five or more skills are contacted up to 33 times more and receive up to 17 times more profile views than other profiles.
Still, while it’s important to list a variety of skills to entice recruiters – LinkedIn allows users to add as many as 50 – including too many likely dilutes your most important assets. Likewise, a larger number of qualifications means your endorsements will be spread among more, leaving fewer on your most valuable skills.
The most successful strategy for earning endorsements is to offer them to other users. More often than not, a person will reciprocate your endorsement by offering one in return. If your endorsement isn’t reciprocated after a few days, you can try sending a short but polite message to the other user, letting them know of your courtesy and asking for a return favor.
Everyone knows they need a profile photo, but not just any photo will do. Avoid selfies and any poor-quality image that looks like it was taken with grandma’s old Polaroid. LinkedIn recommends using a photo that is at least 200x200 pixels to avoid graininess and blurriness.
A LinkedIn profile photo should present an essence of professionalism in league with the user’s industry. For example, wearing a monogrammed uniform for a headshot might spell success for a plumber, but the same presentation wouldn’t work well for an attorney.
“While it’s acceptable for software engineers to wear a hoodie and shorts at their startup, try to look more professional in your profile photo,” wrote Brittany Curran, supply strategist at Hired. “You don’t need to wear business formal clothes if that’s uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t look sloppy either.”
In addition to a focus on professional presentation, Curran also recommends users focus on lighting, as a poorly-lit photo will appear dull and drab, unlikely to stand apart from the masses. Ambient light is ideal, and a photo taken outdoors in the early or late part of the day will usually provide best results. It’s important to take the photo in front of an undistracting background.
5. Custom URL
It’s hard to stand apart with a URL consisting of a series of numbers, but that’s usually what LinkedIn automatically assigns profiles. Fortunately, users can specify custom URLs for their pages. The most effective LinkedIn URLs generally are users’ names, for example: linked.com/johndoe.
Results speak volumes. Don’t simply talk about how great you are at your job, tell a story of your career in numbers. In your summary, experience and anywhere else on your profile that it’s relevant, provide statistics, specific examples and data showcasing your accomplishments.
Let recruiters know they don’t have to take your word for it. Recommendations from other users with whom you’ve forged professional relationships on any level only reinforce everything you’ve said about yourself. Sometimes the feedback will even point out a professional asset you’d never considered.
LinkedIn allows users to request professional recommendations easily with a click and a short message, but it’s important to strategically seek them. Consider who in your network might recommend you for different skills and experiences, and approach users that will leave a broad range of references.
LinkedIn allows any user to write and publish their own work to the platform. By blogging about your professional perspective, recounting a memorable experience or offering unique insights, you attract a whole new audience to view your profile.
Not only is blogging a great way to get noticed or cement your reputation, but it showcases written communication skills – a vital skill sought after by most recruiters and employers in today’s market.
By joining LinkedIn Groups, users can stay on top of industry news and network with professionals with similar backgrounds, jobs and interests. Groups are just one more way to get noticed with LinkedIn. It’s also a productive way to find leads within a target market or audience.
SAP’s Arif Mohamed Johari recommends joining as many groups as possible – LinkedIn allows users to join up to 50 – and actively participating in at least five of them. By adding insight to conversations, users can become recognized as thought leaders in their respective professional communities.
LinkedIn users can earn badges for reaching achievements and career milestones, completing tasks and mastering certain skills. These badges appear as small icons or logos on users’ profiles as a form of digital credentials.
Badges are issued by a variety of organizations. An employer might issue badges to employees who accomplish certain goals or perhaps an educational institution issues badges to students who have achieved certain certifications or passing certain exams and courses. They serve as a visual representation of a professional’s proficiencies and accomplishments.
SAP offers members its own digital badges to showcase their learning accomplishments and obtain a competitive advantage in the job market. The SAP Global Certification team launched the program in 2018, awarding badges to all members certified in one of various cloud solutions, later expanding it to include all new and updated certifications.