The 19 Secrets of Great LinkedIn Profiles

With more than 300 million users, LinkedIn is the online hub for professional activity. Your profile is the main way for you to manage your presence and reputation in your industry, draw the attention of recruiters and land a great new job, and build an active network of business contacts and mentors. Keep reading below to learn how to build a LinkedIn profile that wows, or have our team do it for you.
First, why do you need a LinkedIn profile?
The internet has changed the way companies hire, and LinkedIn is one of the most important ways professionals can manage their personal brands. Here are some of the reasons you unequivocally need a LinkedIn profile:
  • To expand on your resume with a more detailed overview of your accomplishments
  • To collaborate and network with leaders in your industry
  • To manage your online presence and make it easy for companies to find you
  • To find new clients or build your own business
  • To show recruiters what makes you unique among candidates
Creating a profile that highlights your skills and experience is therefore the first step to setting yourself apart from the competition, but where should you start? We used our years of experience helping applicants with their LinkedIn profiles to compile this guide, which outlines the 19 secrets you need to know to build a stellar LinkedIn profile.
1. Discover what your audience wants.
woman listening
Online readers consume content differently, which means your LinkedIn profile should not simply rehash your resume. Instead, recruiters and industry professionals want to learn quickly about who you are, how you can provide value, and how you can help them reach their goals. When building your profile, keep in mind that readers will be scanning for key information, so use bullet points, headlines, and other formatting markers to make your content easy to read. The formatting of this article is a good example of how to make information easy to visually scan.
2. Update your profile settings.
Nothing is more annoying to your LinkedIn connections than being notified of every edit you make. Before you begin to overhaul your profile, under your privacy settings, make sure you turn off the option to share changes. Another key point in your settings is to choose a custom profile URL rather than the automatically assigned combination of letters and numbers, which has no value for your personal branding. Change this to your name, your Twitter or social media handle, or your professional title. On your profile editing screen, simply edit your public profile URL to create a custom one.
3. Find what sets you apart.
magnifying glass hovering over unique man
Your brand and professional identity will serve as the foundation for your LinkedIn profile content. Think about your goals and passions. How do these help you stand out from the competition? You may find it helpful to ask colleagues or mentors what they value in you and your workplace contributions. Then distill this information to a few points you can use as the starting place for your profile.
4. Set aside time to make your profile amazing.
Completing all sections of your profile gives you a much higher chance of appearing in search results, and it certainly helps recruiters get a better idea of what skills and experience you bring to the table. LinkedIn profiles allow you the space to elaborate on details such as specific projects, coursework, volunteer experiences, etc. When building your profile, ensure you set aside enough time to fill out the whole thing. Don't skip sections.
5. Upload a professional photo and background image.
smiling profesional woman
LinkedIn profiles with pictures are much more likely to be viewed, so upload a clear recent photo to let visitors know who you are. Avoid photos of parties or other scenarios that would be inappropriate for the workplace, but you don’t need to be overly formal, either. While a professional headshot is certainly ideal, any photo that conveys you as friendly and approachable can greatly improve your profile. If you need ideas, check out what types of profile photos other professionals in your industry have used. Don’t forget your background image, either: Even a simple, slick blue pattern can help you stand out.
6. Write a compelling headline.
While a typical headline will inform readers of your job title and company, you can get creative here to set yourself apart from others in your industry. If you need help figuring out what to write, refer back to your brainstorming from secret no. 3 or ask us for help. For example, a translator might write something like “Helping businesses break into international markets.” Focus on the unique value you can provide.
7. Use keywords strategically.
Recruiters (and the algorithms they use) scan for certain keywords when browsing LinkedIn profiles. Instead of using buzzwords such as “driven,” “innovative,” and “effective,” scan through descriptions of positions in your industry for key descriptive terms. These are likely the words recruiters are looking for, so use them strategically throughout your summary. Working with a professional to tailor your LinkedIn profile for search engines can be key here.
8. Provide details.
Your summary should be detailed enough that readers have an idea of your strengths and your personality. Highlight any unique skills or qualifications that position you as an expert in your industry, but also include any insights you can share based on your experience. Always refer back to your brand statement, focusing on what sets you apart. In all, your summary should be between three and five paragraphs long, with bullet points to help break up the content and call attention to key points.
9. Write with a personal touch.
While your profile should always remain professional, never be afraid to share opinions on key issues in your industry or mention interests outside work. People who want to work with you will want to get a sense of who you are as a person, which means injecting a bit of creativity into your profile. It should not read like a resume, and in fact many professionals also use the first person on their LinkedIn profiles to maintain a friendly tone. While opinions are divided on whether first or third person is best, be sure to use either consistently.
10. Lay out specific facts.
magnifying glass over chart
Whenever you can, talk about results. Numbers are an effective way to establish credibility among your readers, and referring to a statistic or case study that backs up your achievements can highlight your value. For example, a social media manager might include figures on traffic from social sources, or a marketing consultant might mention an increase in revenue after a campaign. A brief description of awards and recognitions can also help set you apart as a high performer in your industry.
11. Highlight your career experiences.
While your LinkedIn profile should not read like a resume, you should be outlining your industry experience and previous roles in the same way you would there. However, you can include more detail than you would on a resume, and links and multimedia mean your LinkedIn profile can be much more interactive for recruiters. As on your resume, focus on positions relevant to your career direction, and break down your responsibilities in a way that highlights your skills and achievements in each role. Use bullet points to help readers navigate. Note: If you haven't updated your resume recently, updating your LinkedIn profile will be tough. We can help you overhaul your resume.
12. Market yourself when jobhunting.
Some jobhunters include only past positions on their LinkedIn profiles, but your profile can be a great way to position yourself in a new industry and gain the attention of recruiters or mentors. You can create a headline that simply describes your career goals, for example, “Economics student, seeking learning opportunities in the financial sector.” Remember to also create a temporary listing in your jobs section that encompasses this info, as this is key to showing up in search results for that industry.
13. Take advantage of multimedia.
hand pointing to multimedia icons
Multimedia such as links, videos, and images can be great tools to help you stand out and illustrate your previous projects. Instead of simply describing a web design project, for example, you can link to the webpage itself or provide a slideshow of various design elements. Freelancers and entrepreneurs can especially benefit from multimedia, as examples and links to past projects can be a draw for new clients.
14. Get organized with sections.
LinkedIn allows you to add custom sections to your profile for volunteering, awards and honors, languages, certifications, and other information recruiters find relevant. These sections call attention to unique skills that might not otherwise be captured by your career history. Rather than throwing everything together under your summary, breaking up this information will help readers follow the content easily and narrow in on points of interest.
15. Ask for feedback.
Providing details and taking advantage of your profile as a space to highlight your achievements and unique value is the main goal, but remember that readers will be searching for certain information, and you need to keep them captivated. Consider asking a friend or trusted colleague to critique your profile and make sure it intrigues rather than overwhelms, or you might want to work with a professional resume and LinkedIn profile writer.
16. Make it easy for people to contact you.
man juggling contact options
On your LinkedIn profile, include links to any active social media accounts related to your professional life as well as your email. A savvy trick you can use to customize your contact info is to avoid using the bland default link fields for your personal blog or website, if you have one. Instead, in the “Contact and personal info” section, select “Other” from the dropdown menu and use the name and URL of your website. This way, readers can see this information immediately on your profile.
17. Eliminate errors.
pencil with eraser
As many as four out of ten applicants are passed over for jobs because of errors in their resumes, so having a clear and correct LinkedIn profile is incredibly important. Reading over your profile thoroughly to catch typos and other mistakes is a good start, but as we often find it difficult to catch errors in our own writing, you may wish to work with an editing service to ensure your profile is top notch.
18. Show your enthusiasm.
Your LinkedIn profile should convey only the best of your career experiences and your passion for your industry, so remember to let your excitement shine through. Avoid mentioning negative aspects of previous jobs or employers, and frame any setbacks as constructive learning experiences. Recruiters are attracted to those who can motivate people around them, so your LinkedIn profile should frame you as the qualified and enthusiastic professional you are.
19. Keep your profile updated.
Having outdated information on your profile simply makes you look unprofessional, so be sure to revisit your profile often and make changes whenever you pursue a new job, take a professional development course, or engage in a new volunteer opportunity. While the most important areas to keep updated are your headline, industry, and location, your LinkedIn profile should always reflect your most recent and relevant achievements throughout.
Take action today.
Excited to craft the perfect LinkedIn profile but need help getting started? We offer LinkedIn profile and resume writing services for professionals at any stage of their careers, from students to CEOs. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can position you for success in your industry.