LinkedIn Best Practices to Build Your Career

January 24, 2024 | 856 Views

LinkedIn Best Practices to Build Your Career

Jessica Shock

Manager, Enterprise and Digital Communications | Inspire Brands

More and more these days, when someone hears about you, the first place they go to check you out is LinkedIn. And when recruiters are searching for that perfect new job candidate, LinkedIn is their go-to source. Here’s how to best utilize LinkedIn for yourself and to build your career.

Building Your Profile

A LinkedIn Profile allows you to share what your resume can not. Resumes are meant to be clean-cut, without every single detail. LinkedIn lets you go deeper and add all of the extra oomph. It’s reported that a resume captures attention for only seven seconds, but LinkedIn can tell your whole career story in a compelling way.

As you craft your Profile, think of the career narrative you are creating. Keep your Profile consistent with who you are and who you want to be; not just for your next career move, but for building your career story and showcasing your expertise to build your connections and network.  

Sign up using a professional email. Immediately after creating your Profile, edit your Profile URL in Settings. Personalize it to be your name, clean and simple. If your exact name is already taken, consider adding your middle initial. It’s expected that this URL be added to your resume and cover letter as a direct link to your LinkedIn Profile.

Your Headline is a quick and catchy description of what you do. Keep your Headline short and concise, but memorable. It should not simply repeat your current job title or what you write throughout your profile and in your About section. The Headline should be able to be read when you appear in a search.

Recommended formula: <active verb> + <target audience> + <overall passion/expertise>
Example: I help companies prevent self-inflicted crises (instead of Crisis Communication Consultant)

Damian Hanft LinkedIn Profile

The About section should be utilized to summarize your experience and what you want people to further know about you. One to four paragraphs is a good guideline. While buzzwords can be used in your Headline or About section to optimize search, do not fall victim to overusing them and adding them if they are repetitive and do not make sense. 

The headshot you use as your Profile picture is the first impression you will make. The headshot should be a professional picture that looks like you and expresses who you are. The background splash photo you choose for your Profile is also important, and should pair well with your headshot. If you need a background photo, I recommend, which has great free background images. Consider using one that ties into the colors in your headshot. LinkedIn has recently added more visual options than in the past, and you can now even add a Profile video. 

To make sure your photo shows in people’s searches, go to:
Account > Settings & Privacy > Account Preferences > General Preferences > Showing Profile Photos

Establishing Your Network

Don’t be afraid to connect! Connecting is a mutual acceptance, which expands your network and opens up messaging. To make the most of your connection requests, I recommend doing them on a browser instead of the app. This is because you can send a private message note along with the connection request. This allows you to say where you know them from, or why you want to connect. This can provide the extra details needed to make a connection and not waste the request.

There are three types of connections you can make on LinkedIn:

  1. A Colleague: This is someone you already know (e.g. from work or school), and is the easiest person to connect with due to the algorithm. With someone you know, it may be nice to offer to write a recommendation on their profile as well.
  2. The Follow Up: This is someone who you have met previously and want to connect with. Once again, a best practice is to send them a connection message through a browser on your computer as this option is not available on the mobile app. 
  3. The Cold Call: This is someone you may not know, but want to connect with. For many, this can be the hardest to do. For this type of person, you may want to use the Anonymous feature before connecting (so it is not awkward that you are looking at their Profile); then put yourself out of Anonymous and connect. Note that LinkedIn does not encourage people to be Anonymous mode, and when you are in it, LinkedIn will also not allow you to see who is viewing you.

Connect vs. Follow

You may have noticed that some people with a larger reach have a Follow button instead of Connect. Also, if their following is large or they are well outside of your network, the Connect button may be hidden. Click More and you can see the Connect button.

Following someone ensures their content will be in your news feed. You can follow instead of connect if you just want to follow their content and are hesitant that a connection request would be rejected.

Anonymous vs. Public

Unless you are in Anonymous mode, looking at people's profiles on LinkedIn alerts the person you are looking at. LinkedIn offers an Anonymous feature to look at someone's profile without them knowing. Keep in mind as you use this feature, it also does not show you who has looked at your profile.

To turn on the Anonymous feature, click Account > Settings & Privacy > Visibility > Profile Viewing Options

Sometimes you may want the person to get the alert of you viewing their profile. This can lead to them checking out who you are, and then connecting with you.

Curating Your News and Personal Feeds

After you have created your Profile and started connecting, it is now time to curate your news feed. Not only can you connect, but you can follow accounts and pages on LinkedIn so you can stay on top of newsworthy content

It is important to curate your personal feed by joining the conversation. Being active on LinkedIn and making posts does not have to be a big production. You can share someone else’s post, post your wins, give kudos, add additional relevant context, or simply make a reaction to a colleague’s post. Posting shows recruiters that you are active and that you care about your business and industry’s work.

Pin relevant posts to the top of your page to be featured. This helps recruiters to see your work and accomplishments.

To alert recruiters that you are open to work, turn on “Finding a New Job” in Settings if searching for a job.

Profile > Add Goal > Finding a New Job. You can make this public or private for just recruiters to see.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in a specific job, look up the recruiter and send them a direct message. Don’t let this be a deterrent, embrace this opportunity.

Now that you have created your profile following these instructions and tips, you should have an “All-Star” Profile with everything filled in. This means that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is at its peak performance to put you in top results for recruiters, hiring managers, colleagues, and whoever else is searching on LinkedIn. You’ll know this is working by checking your LinkedIn analytics of Profile Views, Post Impressions, and Search Appearances.



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