LinkedIn is the professional networking tool you know you’re supposed to use, but you’re not quite sure how to. Luckily, I sat down with Yomaly Suero, a former business owner and NYC human resources professional with 10+ years of experience in recruiting, career coaching and resume writing, who has taught workshops specifically on improving job seekers’ use of LinkedIn. Check out her tips below.
1. Use it.
“Most people just put their resume information up on LinkedIn and leave it at that, hoping employers will just find them; they don’t put any effort in,” Yomaly says. Her advice? Fill out your profile entirely, then be proactive about posting and adding folks — just like you would go up to someone and introduce yourself at a networking event.
2. Craft your summary.
Your summary is key to helping you explain who you are and what you’re looking for to potential employers.
“It's basically your answer to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question, but on paper,” Yomaly says. And the main advantage? It doesn’t have to be as short as you would answer that infamous first question in an interview.
“You can add more qualities and relevant strengths, things that your resume can't easily demonstrate, maybe more soft skills,” she says.
3. Make your headline more than a job title.
Don’t overlook your headline, either. LinkedIn defaults it to “Current Role at Current Company,” but you do have the freedom to change it something less generic and more impactful. Use this space to list your best accomplishments and qualities. Many people use this formula: "Adjective" "Fun way of describing their job" Who "Value they can add." Now is the time to call yourself as an award-winner or a trendsetter, just be sure to provide context for how this makes you a great hire.
4. Build your network.
“Add HR folks,” Yomaly says. “That's one of the biggest mistakes jobseekers make. They add friends and family, which is fine, but LinkedIn is for building business connections in your field!”
She advises adding hire managers, CEOs, and VPs, as well as assistant managers, supervisors, and those who supervise interns or volunteers. Anyone who makes a hiring decision. You want to be on their radar. As you build your network, you should also be intentional about collecting effective endorsements — your profile should include five prioritized skills and endorsements that are specifically relevant to each one!
5. Fix your job titles.
“You are indexed by your job titles, not by the lengthy descriptions you may (or may not) write under each job title,” Yomaly explains. “So make sure those titles fit what you want; then you can flesh out the job descriptions.”
And absolutely show progression! If you had multiple roles at the company, it’s important to list each one and show that you were amazing enough to get promoted. Plus, additional relevant job titles never hurt anyone.
6. Focus on keywords, not endorsements.
Similar to the way certain keywords should be on your resume, according to your industry, the same method applies to your LinkedIn profile. Make sure that your descriptions are mentioning the skills and accomplishments that recruiters are looking for.
Yomaly says that while endorsements are great, they’re ultimately not the make-or-break for calling someone in; for recruiters, it’s more about the job titles and accomplishments listed in the description sections.
7. Make your best content visible.
Remember that LinkedIn truncates text that is beyond a certain number of words. When writing your summary and experiences section, make sure the most important content is at the beginning of your writing, above the cut off. In your summary, start with a bold sentence that describes who you are — the first five seconds of your elevator pitch. In your experience section, start with your most important experiences and your impactful numbers.
8. Connect — personally.
Yomaly advises reaching out to make connections with anyone you think could be a great contact, even if you’re not actively job searching, and especially if you’ve recently applied to a job at their company. In her book, you should send inmail (essentially LinkedIn’s version of instant messaging) to attract attention when sending a connection request, then waiting a day or two before messaging once you've connected so you don’t seem desperate, but also stay up-to-date and timely. Growing your network will help your profile get more eyes, and makes your network look impressive to potential employers!
9. Follow up with connections to make your profile pop.
Her main advice to job seekers about messaging potential employers? “Don’t be too pushy. Thank the person for accepting your request, then tell them about your interest in the company. Then you can tell them you’ve applied to X posting, and they shouldn’t hesitate to contact you if they deem you’re a good fit.” It just adds a personal touch, and shows contacts that your follow-up skills are on point!
10. Keep your posts relevant.
When it comes to posting your own content, make sure you remember that this is a professional social network — not your personal Instagram or Facebook. Any articles you share or posts you create should be relevant to your field or to job searching in general, and absolutely no complaining is allowed. Also remember that unless you’ve changed settings accordingly, your social network will receive updates anytime you upload a post. So make sure those status updates are worthwhile!
11. Publish articles to show you're ahead of the curve.
Prove that you are a thought leader in your industry by using the 'articles' section of LinkedIn to publish your own long-form content on topics that interest you. Publishing articles on LinkedIn is like creating a personal blog, but better. It brings your thoughtful the content right to the people who you want to see it: Potential contacts and employers.
12. Absolutely include a photo.
Statistically, people who have pictures on their profiles are more likely to get seen, viewed on LinkedIn and called in for interviews than those who don’t.
“HR professionals use LinkedIn as a database,” Yomaly says. “If they don't see your photo, they think you're not active and they won't contact you, and that's a missed opportunity.”
Of course, make sure your profile photo is clear and professional. Think a high-quality, professional headshot with a neutral background — not a girls’ night out photo you cropped someone out of.
13. Add a background photo, too.
No one wants to look at a default setting on LinkedIn, especially when it's the first thing they lay eyes on! Your background photo is at the top of your profile — it draws peoples attention and gives context as to who you are. Adding a background photo makes your profile look more polished, and presents an opportunity to communicate a bit about your personality.
14. Add a cover video.
Now, LinkedIn lets you display a 30-second video on your profile called a 'cover video.' Use this spot to add special context to your profile — recording your elevator pitch, or a stylized version of your summary.
15. Add a skills assessment.
LinkedIn allows you take a skills assessment that measures your competency at any one of a set of skills, then add a verified badge to your profile saying you passed the assessment. Data from the company says people with verified skills are 30% more likely to be hired for roles they apply for.
16. Display your LinkedIn learning.
If you've taken LinkedIn Learning courses to brush up on your skills or learn something new, display your achievement on your profile for future employers to see. Not only does this demonstrate that you've acquired whatever skills you studied — it also demonstrates dedication to your career and a passion for learning.
17. Request recommendations.
Ask past colleagues and managers you have a good relationship with to leave recommendations on your page. These are like letters of recommendation, but they're available to employers before the hiring process begins — starting your relationship with a positive impression of you.
18. Skip the buzzwords.
When writing your summary or other sections of your LinkedIn profile, remember that resume and cover letter writing rules still apply. Avoid filling your profile with too much jargon and skip buzzwords that just take up space: Boring verbs like "implemented" and "led." Instead, fill your application with these power verbs and follow other resume writing best practices.
19. Add data.
Just like on a resume, when possible, add numbers to your summary and experience sections. Dollars saved and dollars earned mean a lot more to employers than verbal fluff. If you're worried about making certain numbers LinkedIn-level public, remember that percentages of growth are also impactful.
20. Fill in your interests.
Recruiters want to hire people they connect to, not robots. Your interests section gives you a great way to share more about your personal life — from the sports teams you love to the volunteer work you do — and sets the stage for someone to connect with you on a personal level before they reach out professionally.
21. Mark yourself as Open For Work.
Now, you can let the world of recruiting know that you're looking for employment opportunities. Follow these directions to mark yourself as open for work — it's basically like putting a huge, waving flag on your profile.
22. Set a custom URL.
When you first create a LinkedIn profile, you're assigned a randomly generated URL, jam-packed with a series of letters and numbers. Make your profile more visible to folks who are searching your name by setting a custom URL.
23. Apply to jobs.
The great thing about LinkedIn is it’s also a job search site in addition to being a professional networking and social media platform. Use the built-in search engine to apply to jobs. It’s easy and worth it — many recruiters start their searches there.
Bottom line? Be proactive, be professional and be targeted — just like you are in every other aspect of your search, dear job seeker!
Chelsea Fonden is a career coach and resume writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Over the past 5 years, she has worked with countless jobseekers across industries and professional levels, and holds a passion for women's advancement in the workplace. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland and has worked for several NYC non-profits, as well as in freelance roles.