How to Optimize your LinkedIn profile [bots and recruiters]

I started my journey of LinkedIn personal branding in early 2023 and achieved amazing results in just a few months. LinkedIn profile optimization has helped me land amazing opportunities right in my DMs and high traffic to my published articles.

In this blog post, we will discuss all the important ways you can optimize your LinkedIn profile that can lead to incredible opportunities. Once you’ve gone through and implemented all of them, you can start posting content on your profile to keep your network engaged and make the best out of LinkedIn for personal branding.

What is a personal brand?

Like a brand is the identity of a company, a personal brand is the identity of a person. Personal branding is the process of directing others about your values and how you stand out from the crowd.

You might have seen people who are good at marketing or designing or maybe they are a great software engineer. Have you ever wondered what made them be the limelight on your whole feed? It’s months or probably years of personal branding.

People use different social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok for personal branding. In this guide, we’ll focus on LinkedIn profile optimization so that your message reaches more people.

LinkedIn SEO

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a term used for optimising a profile so that it is visible on search results and outperforms the others. The purpose is to have your profile on top of search results so that when someone searches for a particular keyword (job title in our case), you are the first that shows up.

What is a keyword?

A keyword is anything you type on a search bar. For example, if you are looking for graphic designers, you’d probably write graphic designer on the search bar and here ‘graphic designer’ is your keyword.

Using the right keywords will help your profile to appear on top of search results. So if you are a graphic designer and you have used the right keywords for this job title, your profile should appear among the top results when I search for it.

Benefits of a personal brand on LinkedIn

Is all the effort worth it? Yes, absolutely. When you showcase your skills and expertise to the public, there are higher chances of getting noticed and attracting opportunities.

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your portfolio. Whatever you post there about your experience and competency speaks about your brand.

For me, my LinkedIn profile proved that I was good at explaining complicated things and that helped me land a job at a well-known Bootcamp. And I still get unexpected opportunities from all over the world. Below is one of a few opportunities I landed recently.

How to optimize your LinkedIn profile

Before you start posting your achievements on LinkedIn, you need to optimize your profile. Without profile optimization, your posts wouldn’t reach a larger audience. Think of it like your new business that has amazing products to offer potential customers but the online store barely speaks about it.

Let’s dive into the important aspects of your LinkedIn profile.

1. Profile photo

A headshot is the first thing you’d see on your LinkedIn profile and a good headshot sets the first impression. LinkedIn research shows that profiles with a professional headshots had 21 times more profile views than others.

This insight suggests that stock photos, side poses showing off your jawline, candid look-away or anything like that is a big NO.

It’s similar to how your attire and overall look have the power to make or break your job interview. So to make a good first impression, wear a tidy outfit (at least the top part) and go to a well-lit place with your mobile phone. You don’t need a professional shoot for this, just a sibling or friend with a camera phone is enough. You don’t even have to think about adding more light to your room, get your shoot done out in the daylight if you think your living space is insufficient. A selfie might also work if you can make it look like someone else captured it.

Below is an example of a good headshot. However, 10 Tips for Taking a Professional LinkedIn Profile Photo is a more detailed guide on how to capture a LinkedIn profile photo.

Photo by Vince Veras on Unsplash

2. Cover photo

Remember the days when we’d do a whole research to find a savage cover photo for our Facebook profiles? Those were good days but you don’t need even a little bit of research for a LinkedIn cover photo.

A plain background with your job title and contact information works well. You can even highlight your key skills on your cover photo or add your company logo to build credibility.

Unsure or not confident about creating a cover photo that showcases your details? (I’ve been there). You can even use a stock photo or behind-the-scenes of your work desk here. See below for some inspirations:

Pratham Jindal uses the logo and tagline cover photo

Candice Zakariya highlights her expertise and contact info in her LinkedIn cover photo

Kaitlin Marks uses a clean stock photo for her cover

3. Heading

Heading is your answer to ‘tell me about yourself’ if you were given 5-10 seconds for it. This part of your profile is an opportunity to tell the world who you are and also use the right keywords so it shows up in the search results.

You’re probably reading this because you want your profile to be visible and don’t have a following yet. Keeping this in mind, the headline structure you’d want to use is the following:

Job title | Your top skill | Other keywords

Suppose you are a web developer at Dreams in Script and your top skill is JavaScript. Your headline would look like Web Developer | JavaScript expert | Frontend Development

Take another example of a marketing professional with experience in branding and social media ad management: A senior marketing manager with expertise in social media ad management. Helped 100+ businesses make 300k through social media ads.

If you are a student, you’re probably thinking what’s here for me? The best suggestion for you is to not sell yourself short. Have you worked for freelance clients, friends’ businesses or perhaps built your projects? Showcase them instead of saying aspiring marketing professional. Have a look at the following examples:

Marketer with experience in branding and SEO

Web developer specializing in Nodejs | Backend Developer | Java, PHP, Tailwind

Content writer | ghostwriting | Linguistics candidate at XYZ University 

The above examples are just samples and you can be as creative as you can with your headline, just remember to use the keywords you’d want to be known for.

For a more comprehensive guide on LinkedIn headlines, check out LinkedIn Headline: Everything You Need to Know published on Jobscan.

4. Summary

Remember how we used headlines as a 5-second answer to ‘tell me about yourself’? A LinkedIn summary is where you have the chance to mention the details. You can mention your educational background, hobbies, passions, future goals and your mantra here. Just remember to use the keywords and do not overwhelm the reader.

What do I mean by not overwhelming the reader? Avoid writing a summary so long that they lose interest. Just mention enough details to tell them who you are and your achievements, but don’t tell too much that they lose the point of knowing you.

Below, we look at the about section of a professional and a student, both with different attributes.

Person A: Student currently enrolled in senior year of software engineering degree. Has done an internship and worked on a few projects as part of curriculum and contests.

Summary:

I am a full-time Software Engineering candidate at XYZ University and my favorite courses revolve around calculus and data manipulation. My classmates know me as a fixer who can mend broken Machine Learning models using a strong understanding of data analysis and preprocessing. I have recently completed a 3 months internship at Dreams in Script where I had a chance to work with industry professionals on a deep computer vision project. My colleagues were considerate enough to allow me to share my opinions and I amazed them with my knowledge. Those 3 months were my opportunity to polish my deep learning skills and mathematics knowledge which helped me win a university-level machine learning contest.

I specialize in Python, Pandas, TensorFlow, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Cloud computing, and Data Wrangling. Using these skills, I have built a panda face detection model that’d help wildlife professionals keep track of their extinct life and preserve the species.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or just to connect.

See how we used keywords like calculus, machine learning, deep learning etc above and also managed to tell our story in a few paragraphs.

Person B: A marketing professional with over 3 years of experience working with different clients. Specialises in SEO and email marketing.

Summary:

Marketing professional on weekdays and content creator on weekends. I am a Senior Marketing Manager at Dreams in Script and my average day revolves around conducting market research, creating content, managing clients’ social media profiles, optimizing content for SEO, and managing content calendars. 

My favourite part of my job is connecting with businesses coming from different backgrounds and getting to know their markets. I have my own Instagram profile where I share my life experience through attractive content and manage a community of 100K people there. 

I am open to working on Marketing gigs that match and value my experience. Feel free to reach out at [email protected] for any discussions or shoot me a quick DM. 

Keywords like content creation, market research, SEO, and Instagram will help this person stand out in search results. Now let’s have a look at a few real-life summaries of people on LinkedIn below.

How to Write Your LinkedIn Profile Summary Like A Pro is an information-packed blog post to write an amazing LinkedIn Summary.

5. Recommendations

LinkedIn has a cool feature of showcasing recommendations and is very simple to use. You just ask someone for a recommendation and they write some words of appreciation for you. You have the choice to display the recommendation on your profile or leave it. Ask your boss or colleagues for a recommendation. Students can ask their project teammates, college seniors,  internship seniors, or teachers for a recommendation that proves their credibility.

6. Work experience description 

Don’t hesitate to jot down your work responsibilities under the description section. When you add work experience to your profile, you will be asked to add relevant skills and provide a description. These fields are optional, but leveraging them is never a bad idea. Just add relevant skills like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Google Cloud etc. and write a few bullets about your responsibilities and achievements using your favorite keywords. See below for an example:

Detailed yet keyword-rich job description by Anna Sonnenberg:

Experience description based on just keywords that also highlight the job roles:

7. Projects

A project can be any personal or institute-related project. You can add all the details including start and end date, description, skills, other contributors etc. Projects showcase the real work you’ve done and its impact. Use it to show off your expertise be it a side project, group project, college project or a business one.

8. Skills

You can add up to 50 skills to your LinkedIn profile and you can even associate them with your education, work experiences, certificates or projects. Under the skills section, just start typing the skill and relevant names will show up, select the one you want to add and click save.

9. Certificates

Certificates are a great way to show you work on your skill building even outside your career or education. There are plenty of free certificates available on the internet and if you’ve completed even any one of them, put them on your LinkedIn profile. You can use relevant keywords in the certificate description and tell the world what you learned during the course. 

10. URL

Your LinkedIn URL can also improve your searchability if you use the right keywords in it. A custom URL also demonstrates your professionalism and differentiates you from a crowd. A good custom URL looks like the following:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/firstname-lastname/job-title

You can find the option to change your URL on your profile page and changing it is as easy as flipping a switch. Check out all the details here.

11. Featured section

LinkedIn featured section allows adding your work on top of your profile. No matter how long ago you posted content on your profile if it is featured, it’ll show up at the top. 

Put your best work in the featured section like your recent work achievement or a brilliant client testimonial. I’ve added my recent articles ranking on Google to my featured section which showcases my writing and SEO skills.

What’s next?

To be found on LinkedIn, you need a complete profile and enough connections. Once you have that, your posts will start getting attention. The more reactions your posts receive, the more the LinkedIn algorithm prioritises your content.

If you’re unsure about what to post on your LinkedIn profile, I’ve compiled a list of tried and tested 103 LinkedIn content ideas. The list consists of real-world examples and detailed descriptions for your assistance.

Don’t forget to keep me updated if this blog post has helped you in any way or if I have missed something to list in the comments section below.

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