Top 5 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Published on
November 10, 2024
Matt Stabile

It’s a new year, hiring is picking up and you’re looking for a new job. The first thing you do? There’s no doubt you begin by spending hours of your precious time working on your resume. You add your most recent experience, you experiment around with the formatting and you even refine the margins of your resume just to the point it doesn’t spill out to an additional page.

You feel great about it finally, but then it hits you: now what? The answer is to start working on your other resume. The one everyone looks at first. The one that, whether you like it or not, can be the make or break deciding factor as to whether a decision-maker decides to move forward. It’s your LinkedIn profile, and if you haven’t spent just as much time on it as your resume, you’re going to be in trouble.

You may be asking: Matt, you’re a recruiter, why would you be giving advice to job-seekers that ostensibly helps them directly and bypasses your services? The answer is that it’s just not true. Whether you like or not, LinkedIn has become the de facto representation of your professional profile, and whether you are applying directly or working through a recruiter, it’s still immensely important to present well and to sell yourself via LinkedIn.

In fact, one of the first things I do when I begin working with a new candidate is review their LinkedIn profile. Why is that? It’s because it’s the first thing my clients are going to do too, and if the profile is not at the level I need it to be for my clients to be sold, then I need my candidate to spend time fixing it.

The number of ways someone can improve their LinkedIn profile are countless, but I want to list the top 5 ways you can begin to optimize your LinkedIn profile to make sure it’s not a roadblock to getting that first interview.

1) Fix Your Profile Picture

Think about it: The number one difference between your resume and your LinkedIn profile is that it has your picture. In fact, it’s the first thing you see front and center on your LinkedIn profile. Now ask yourself: What am I telling hiring managers by my current picture, and what do I want to tell them? Are those two things aligned?

I can’t tell you how many great candidates I’ve gotten excited about sending to my clients, and then I’ve visited their LinkedIn profiles only to be disappointed. Their picture is a selfie on vacation, or they’re wearing sunglasses and a t-shirt, or worse, there’s nothing there but a blank image or a graphic. It takes seconds for someone to make a decision about whether to interview you or not, and one look at that by anyone and they’ll simply pass.

The most obvious solution is simple: get a professional headshot. How much are you hoping to earn in your new job over the next several years? Do the math, and it is likely running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. So why are you thinking twice about investing a couple hundred dollars on a headshot that will be used to get you that salary?

Go online and find one of the countless professional headshot photographers advertising their services. There are websites devoted to matching you with the right photographer like Shoot or Snappr, or hire someone directly via Freelancer or Fiverr. With a minimal investment of time and money, you’ll have a headshot portrait you’re proud of and you can use for years going forward.

2) Match Your LinkedIn Profile to Your Resume

One of the primary purposes of LinkedIn is for you to have a platform to serve as your public resume. It’s logical that your LinkedIn profile should then essentially mimic your resume by listing out your work experience, skillset and educational background. That being said, it’s amazing how often I see profiles with cursory descriptions of someone’s work experience at each role, employment gaps that go unexplained and educational degrees listed with no graduation date or specifics as to the degree itself.

Remember, someone should be able to go to your LinkedIn profile and understand everything about you. You may be surprised, but sometimes LinkedIn profiles themselves are printed out to serve as stand-in resumes during interviews. I recommend to my candidates to make it as simple as possible: take your resume and copy and paste everything from it to your LinkedIn profile. What are you hiding? Are there things in your resume that you wouldn’t share to the public? Maybe, but it’s rare. Otherwise, put it all out there and save everyone the time.

Start with your overview: Who are you and what do you do? Then list out every role you’ve had. Include what you’ve done, how you did it, what your responsibilities were and what you accomplished. Include all of your degrees, certificates and honors. Make sure dates, locations and degree types are listed. Finally, make sure to include your interests, volunteering activities and other personal information that shows who you are as a person. Standing out from your competition is the key to success.

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3) Make It as Easy as Possible to View and Contact You

Your LinkedIn profile should be as memorable and discoverable as possible. Just like you’d want your Twitter handle or Web Site URL to be easy to remember and share, the same should be said about your LinkedIn URL. Instead of using the randomly generated numbers and letters that make up your URL, go to your profile and click “Edit public profile & URL” to change it to your name. If someone used it already, try adding on your title.

The point of this is to show that you care. A messy URL signals to employers lack of awareness. Cleaning it up shows you care about how you represent yourself to the world and how others perceive you. Similarly, it shows you will represent your new employer well and with a level of professionalism they would expect of their highly compensated employees.

On that same note, take a look at your background image and fix that too. Is it a default picture or is it something that complements your profile? There are dozens of sites like where you can download an image that fits your profile, or you can make your own at a site like Canva.

Finally, make it easy for others to get in touch with you. You’re looking for a new job, so don’t make your new employer or those acting on their behalf jump through hoops to contact you. Go to your profile and click “Contact Info” to add your personal web site, include a work number (or better yet, a VOIP number used exclusively for job-seeking purposes) and of course your email address.

4) Get Social

Don’t forget, LinkedIn at its core is a social network, with a focus on social. By now you probably feel overwhelmed by the number of platforms you need to be active on, but my advice is that when you’re looking for a new role, spend less time scrolling on Instagram and more time posting, sharing and connecting with others on LinkedIn.

What does this entail? It can mean sharing links to articles relevant to your expertise, perhaps with your angle or summary of the article. You can share public accomplishments, awards or recognitions. You can join groups, follow certain hashtags or subscribe to notable personalities. And of course, you can connect with others to grow your network.

So what’s the point? The purpose is to show you are an active, engaged member of your “tribe.” By following certain topics and sharing those articles with your commentary, it shows you are up-to-date on the latest trends or updates about your field. The same can be said about the groups you join or the people and hashtags you subscribe to — it shows you care about these topics and want to stay informed about them. Remember that employers want to hire people passionate about what they do, and this passion will not only come out in their day-to-day work, but also through social networks where they share information about themselves.

5) Let Recruiters Know You’re Open to Work

LinkedIn recently added a new feature that allows recruiters know you’re looking or at least open to new job opportunities. Even better, if you let LinkedIn know the types of job opportunities you’re interested in and where you’d like to work, it will optimize your profile to show up in search results when recruiters are looking for candidates.

To enable this feature, go to your profile and click the “Open to” button underneath your profile picture. From there you can click “Finding a new job” to then specify they type of role you are looking for, the location and most importantly, who should know this information. If you’re currently employed and don’t want anyone to know your’e looking, make sure to choose the “Recruiters only” option at the bottom.

Published on
November 10, 2024
Matt Stabile