How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for More Exposure

 
 

Zoran Bosancic

Online Marketing and
Business Strategist


Consider this—a job recruiter googles your name. What are the first few results you want him to see?
 

If you want to play things smart, your LinkedIn profile is the result you want to see up top.

In fact, if you already have a LinkedIn profile, chances are that your profile is already within the first 5 results. That’s how relevant Google finds LinkedIn profiles.

That’s a huge advantage when it comes to presenting yourself to headhunters, recruiters, and other professionals. But it can also be a disadvantage if you have an awful profile.

If you’re still not convinced by LinkedIn, here are some facts to think about:

  • LinkedIn is actually the oldest “still relevant” social network. It was launched in May 2003. Almost a full year before Facebook.

  • It has 433 million members and just over 100 million monthly active users. (source: thesocialmediahat.com)

  • 92% of recruiters say they use social media in the recruiting process, 87% specifically use LinkedIn. (source: adweek.com)

  • More than 6.5 million jobs are listed on the site. (source: forbes.com)

  • 2 new users join LinkedIn every second. (source: linkedin.com)

 

By now I hope I’ve persuaded you that you need to make your LinkedIn profile stand out and work to your advantage when it comes to finding new job opportunities. So here are my tips.

Let’s dive in.

1. Start with a Professional Headshot

The reason is pretty obvious—you need to present yourself in the best possible way.

And yes, if you thought otherwise, the first impression does matter. According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, it matters more than you probably think. And you only get one chance at it.

LinkedIn actually made a blog post on this topic showing how important they think the profile photo is. They offered five suggestions:

  • Choose a photo that looks like you;

  • Make sure your face takes up at least 60 percent of the frame;

  • Choose the right expression;

  • Wear what you’d wear to work;

  • Choose a background that isn’t distracting.

Same guy, two very different first impressions

What’s even worse than having a bad profile photo, is not having one at all. When I browse LinkedIn, I almost never click on the profiles that don’t have a photo. And I’ve heard a similar thing from fellow professionals.

As the profile photo is crucial, you might want to take the option of hiring a professional photographer. For this purpose, Klemen connected with Prvi vtis, a professional photography service. He can hook you up with a 15% discount. Now, if that reads at least as half as good as it felt writing, then it’s definitely a “no brainer”. You can get the discount by visiting this page.

Oh, by the way, statistics show that including a profile photo will result in 14x more profile views. Need to add something? I think not.

2. Choose a Strong Headline

This is one of the most important parts of your profile as it highly influences when you show up in search results. You want to use the kind of headline that will represent you and your personal brand. Think about as what you want to be seen as. Every time you appear on LinkedIn that headline will show up next to your name.
 

As of matter of fact, you should give some extra thought to your headline as it’s also a requirement when you get your CV designed on this site.


Some studies suggest you should use a headline for a job you want rather than a job you have. The reason behind this is that recruiters will often search for a specific job title when looking for potential candidates.

My suggestion is that you think about search optimization but don’t just keyword your headline. Try to keep it clear, short, and include key terms.

  An example of a bad headline

An example of a bad headline

  An example of a good headline

An example of a good headline

When I say keywords, I mean words and phrases recruiters might search for. Keywords are not where you use your creativity. While it sounds super awesome if you’re a “head honcho” or a “wordsmith”, the fact is no one searches for that kind of words. Instead to be found, you should go for “copywriter” or “graphic designer”.

3. Write Your Elevator Pitch

If the headline was the most important part of your profile, the summary is, by all means, the second most important. Most people will avoid writing a summary. Don’t be like most people.

Your summary is where you get to be creative. Think of it as a cover letter you would write for your dream job. But not just any cover letter. The best cover letter you’ve ever written.

You have as many as 2,000 characters. No need to be brief. Add everything from your skills and expertise to your goals and success stories. Summary is also a good opportunity to include relevant keywords in the text.

4. Set Your Public Profile URL

To increase the chances of your profile appearing at the top of search results in Google, claiming your vanity URL is imperative.

You should change the URL from whatever it is right now to your first and last name. Ideally, you don’t want anything else. Just your first and your last name. Like this linkedin.com/in/zoranbosancic.

Here’s how you do it.

5. Set Completeness as Your Goal

LinkedIn is your online CV. Like you wouldn’t want to leave your resume uncompleted, you also don’t want to leave your LinkedIn profile uncompleted.

Try to reach the highest completeness level. Treat your LinkedIn profile with the same level of seriousness you would your normal CV.

The highest level of completeness is “All-Star” and to reach it you’ll have to add at least:

  • Your profile picture;

  • Your current position;

  • Your industry and location;

  • Two past positions;

  • Your education information;

  • A minimum of three skills;

  • 50 connections.


The more complete your profile, the better the chances for you to show up in LinkedIn search.

You’ll know when you’ve reached “All-Star” when this circle fills up to almost full.

  Graphic next to a LinkedIn profile (upper right-hand corner) suggesting it reached All-Star strength

Graphic next to a LinkedIn profile (upper right-hand corner) suggesting it reached All-Star strength

(Why it doesn’t fill completely? I have no idea and they don’t give any explanation. Bad UX? Maybe… Or, maybe they’re just trying to encourage you to work on your profile all the time.)

6. Get Recommendations for Every Position

Recommendations serve as a social proof. It’s one thing to talk about yourself and another when others talk about you.

  An example of a good recommendation

An example of a good recommendation

Don’t be shy and ask for recommendations from people you’ve worked for or worked with. Recommendations take up important real estate on your profile and recruiters pay particular attention to them.

If you’re having trouble asking for recommendations apply the “quid pro quo” logic. Write a recommendation yourself and usually people will return the favor even without asking.

One thing to note, only recommendations approved by you will be displayed on your profile.

7. Add Skills and Get Endorsements

You can add up to 50 skills to your profile. That might seem a lot, but you can quickly run out of space. For example, if your skills include social media, a lot of similar keywords can easily eat up space: “social media”, “social media management", "social media marketing" etc.

Be smart about it. Add the skills that are important for the industry you want to work in or a job you’re looking to land. Rearrange them, so the most important appear at the top of the list.

  A profile full of endorsements

A profile full of endorsements

Also, you can get endorsements for your skills. That basically means that other people confirm you’re good at something. “Give to receive” logic also applies here. To receive endorsements, endorse others.

8. Focus on Networking

Networking is the true power of LinkedIn. The more connections you have the more likely you are to appear in LinkedIn’s search results.

This study shows that most jobs never get advertised. So odds are that you’ll only find out about a new job opening through someone you know.

Start with adding your friends, family, classmates, coworkers, professors… Over time, your network will expand and you’ll reap the benefits of having a broad network.

Don’t forget to add people after you’ve talked to them at a networking event or met with them at a business meeting.

9. Add Digital Media to Your Profile

The main difference between a good profile and a great one is digital media. Why just write about your results and achievements if you can show them?

Digital media will make your profile more visual and interesting. It will also make people spend more time viewing your profile—which is only a good thing, right?

Use content that’s in line with how you want to present yourself, your personal brand. Try to post a variety of different formats like documents, videos and presentations.

  Past experience enriched by digital media

Past experience enriched by digital media

Hey, here’s an idea—why just write the summary, why not include a short video pitch?

10. Publish Some Content

Make LinkedIn your own PR machine. To show up in news feed, post some updates or write a post on LinkedIn pulse.

This is a great way to get discovered and give people more insight into what you care about and how you think. It will also help you build a memorable reputation and stay on top of mind of recruiters.

I recommend sharing your key accomplishments, industry insights, and maybe some tips and trends.

Bonus Tip: Change Your Settings, Make Your Profile Public

One last thing. This would all be for nothing if you don’t make your profile public. Your profile won’t appear in Google if it’s not set to public. You don’t have to make all parts of your profile public, but make sure the most important parts are visible to search engines.
 

Let me know how it goes in the comments! And also, be sure to send the link to this post to a friend who needs to read this.

ZORAN BOSANCIC

ONLINE MARKETING AND BUSINESS STRATEGIST

Zoran will help you learn everything you need to know to develop and grow your online business. Learn how