Top 15 LinkedIn Profile Tips for 2021

By Jeff Gillis

Whether you’re currently looking for a new job or simply want to be ready for when that day comes, learning about LinkedIn profile tips is crucial. That way, you can use the platform to its fullest and increase your odds of creating one of the best LinkedIn profiles possible.

Once your LinkedIn summary and the rest of your profile are on-point, taking your career to the next level is much easier. If you want to know what it takes to stand out from the digital crowd, here’s what you need to know.

What Is a LinkedIn Profile?

Alright, before we jump into how to turn your LinkedIn profile into one of the best LinkedIn profiles around, let’s talk about what LinkedIn – and a LinkedIn profile – even is.

In the simplest sense, LinkedIn is the quintessential social media platform for professionals. It’s career-oriented, giving people a place to outline the details of their careers and credentials, as well as showcase their expertise.

As for a LinkedIn profile, it’s essentially an expanded resume. It gives you a place to discuss your career, as well as manage your professional brand.

Plus, LinkedIn is – at its core – a social media platform. That makes it the perfect place for professional networking, making it easy to connect and converse with other professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers. Along with traditional job listings, you may be able to find out about unadvertised opportunities.

Characteristics of a Good LinkedIn Profile

If you’re looking for a job, using LinkedIn is a smart move. There are more than 57 million companies on the platform, so it’s definitely an excellent place to learn more about employers and seek out opportunities.

But LinkedIn can also be a little crowded. Today, over 774 million people have profiles on LinkedIn. That’s a ton of potential competition.

If you want to stand out, having one of the best LinkedIn profiles around is a must. But what does a good LinkedIn profile even look like?

Well, a good LinkedIn profile is comprehensive, enticing, and well-written. In many ways, the profile serves as a marketing document for your career. So, it needs to meet or exceed what you’d do for a resume and cover letter.

Additionally, good LinkedIn profiles usually have a few things in common. They are:

    • Easy to skim
    • Focused
    • Filled with keywords
    • Offering clear descriptions of capabilities, including relevant skills, traits, and talents
    • Free from spelling and grammatical errors

Additionally, they answer most of the initial questions that pop into a hiring manager’s or recruiter’s mind, such as:

    • How has your career developed over time?
    • Where is your career going?
    • What value can you bring to a company?
    • What differentiates you from other candidates?

If your profile does all of that, there’s a good chance it’s a good one, if not one of the best LinkedIn profiles possible.

Common LinkedIn Profile Mistakes

Many people make mistakes when they create their LinkedIn profiles. Regretfully, even a minor misstep can wreak havoc on a job search, causing you to miss out on opportunities that could really boost your career. Thankfully, most LinkedIn profiles mistakes are avoidable.

Here’s a look at three common LinkedIn mistakes that many people make.

1. Misleading Educational Information

Inaccurate education details are a major no-no. While saying you went to a particular school that you didn’t attend or have a degree when you actually don’t are obviously bad ideas, even subtler dishonesty can hurt you.

One classic example is listing that you attended a school and majored in a subject but aren’t open that you don’t have a degree. Even if you don’t outwardly claim that you have a degree, this move may be viewed as deceitful or, at a minimum, a red flag.

2. Forcing in Keywords That Don’t Match Your Experience

Many recruiters and hiring managers search for candidates by using keywords. As a result, you might think that getting as many into your profile as possible to a great move. It isn’t.

But keyword stuffing can work against you. While you want to use keywords to showcase your skills, traits, and experience, cramming in ones that don’t actually align with your expertise isn’t a good move. Yes, more recruiters may view your profile, but they’ll notice that you aren’t bringing everything to the table, and that isn’t going to help your reputation.

3. Not Using the Right Photo

While you usually don’t want to have a photo on your resume, you do need one on your LinkedIn profile. Additionally, it needs to reflect well on you as a professional.

Even if you look great in a casual, candid shot, that kind of photograph isn’t appropriate for LinkedIn. Similarly, an obvious selfie isn’t a great move either.

Don’t have a great photo? Don’t panic. You don’t have to fork over a bunch of cash to get professional headshots to get this right. Instead, get help from a friend, dress nicely, and find a spot with good lighting and a nice background. Take a few shots and then review them. Usually, at least one will do the trick.

JEFF'S TIP: When you’re trying to pick a background, avoid white, black, and bright colors. Those don’t usually show up well on camera and may wash you out or cast strange hues on your skin. Instead, aim for a neutral tone and a bit of texture. Try a natural backdrop featuring some foliage. Find a brick wall. Stand in front of a textured fabric curtain. That can make the image more interesting without taking the attention away from you.

Top 15 LinkedIn Profile Tips

Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for: the stellar LinkedIn tips. By reviewing the advice below, you can increase your odds of creating an outstanding profile that’ll turn heads for all of the right reasons.

Ready to dig in? Great! Here are our top 15 LinkedIn profiles tips.

1. Get a Custom LinkedIn URL

When you create a LinkedIn profile, it’s assigned a default URL. Usually, it starts out clear enough. But towards the end, you get a bunch of nonsense letters and numbers. Yes, that makes your URL unique, but it’s far from easy to share or remember and won’t easily fit on a resume or business card.

Instead, you want to get a custom one. Ideally, you want to use some variation of your name, leading to a URL similar to: www.linkedin.com/in/[YourNameHere]

If your name is common, you may have to get a little creative, adding in dashes or using initials until you can get one that isn’t in use.

2. Discreetly Window Shop

Alright, you can’t stay ahead of the competition if you don’t know what other candidates are doing to stand out from the crowd. So, why not do a little window shopping?

Start by heading to the “Settings & Privacy” section in your profile, then change the “Profile Viewing Options” to “Anonymous LinkedIn Member.” By doing that, the other professionals won’t see that you were a visitor.

Then, think about the kinds of keywords a hiring manager or recruiter may use to find professionals like you. Then, plug those into a search and see who pops up. Read those headlines, check out the profiles, take a look at their pictures.

3. Cut and Reorder Your Profile Sections

LinkedIn offers you a ton of profile sections, but not all of them may apply to you. If there’s one that you don’t need, feel free to cut it. That way, you can streamline your profile.

But don’t stop there. Once you’ve got your profile sections narrowed down, reorder them to put the most enticing information up top. That way, you can kick things off with the biggest bang possible.

4. Think Mobile

While many people create their LinkedIn profiles on a computer, that isn’t necessarily how it’ll ultimately be viewed. Hiring managers and recruiters may actually be searching with a mobile device, so you need to make sure your profile looks great on those platforms.

In many cases, mobile devices will show just the first 42 characters of your headline (maybe less, depending on the settings the viewer uses and the exact device). Plus, it will cut off your “About” section after around 140 characters. That’s smaller than a tweet!

When you create your profile, try to make the most of those first characters. You want to convince visitors that clicking to learn more is worthwhile, so make sure those parts really pack a punch.

5. Gather Recommendations

LinkedIn recommendations are essentially professional references. They are a great way to show that other people think you’re terrific right on your profile.

We’ve explored the world of LinkedIn recommendations in-depth before. But the gist is that they can make a real difference, ensuring you can separate yourself from the pack.

6. Quantify the Details

Alright, we know that quantifying the details is classic resume advice. The thing is, it’s important on LinkedIn, too. Numbers draw the eye, provide context, and can make achievements more impressive. Make sure to pepper a few into your profile; it makes a difference.

7. Nail Your LinkedIn Headline

If any part of your LinkedIn profile deserves some extra attention, it’s the headline. Usually, that’s the first thing hiring managers and recruiters read when they come across your profile. If this section isn’t amazing, they may pass you by without a second thought.

We’ve actually taken a close look at how to write a LinkedIn headline before. If you want to make sure yours is the bee’s knees, check that out.

8. Use Standard Job Titles

Many companies have unique job titles, some of which border on cutesy. The problem is, unless you work for that company, there’s a good chance you’d have no idea what they mean. Plus, they aren’t going to match common search terms recruiters and hiring managers use. That’s no good.

Luckily, the solution is pretty simple. While you still want to list the non-traditional title on your LinkedIn profile, make sure to include the standard equivalent, too.

For example, you could try these approaches:

  • Non-Traditional Title (Standard Title)
  • Non-Traditional Title / Standard Title

Just make sure that the two jobs are actually equivocal. That way, you’re honest while approving clarity and keyword presence.

9. Use the Right Location

Many hiring managers and recruiters search for candidates using location names. But if you’re open to a longer commute or are planning to head to a new city, using your current town may not be a great idea.

If you’re trying to stay local but want to target jobs in a broader area, choose a wider option, like your nearest metro area. That way, you cover more ground.

If a move is on the horizon, you have a tougher choice. First, you could alter your location to show where you want to live, not where you are. If you actually have a move in the works, this could be okay. You could add a note in your profile that lists your arrival date in the area.

However, if you’re trying to land a job first, you may want to use a different approach. Why? Because an inaccurate location might seem dishonest.

Instead, consider showing in your profile that you’re willing to relocate. Then, add your target city to a relocation list.

10. Use Endorsements Strategically

An endorsement means another professional is vouching for you, asserting that you have a particular skill. The thing is, you want to make sure you’re strategic about endorsements. Otherwise, your profile may be overrun with unnecessary details.

Ideally, you want to show endorsements that relate to your target job the most. By putting those front and center, the hiring manager or recruiter knows you have critical capabilities right away, all without having to sort through details they don’t need.

11. Have Some Personality

Sure, you do want to be cautious when you create a LinkedIn profile. However, that doesn’t mean you can add a bit of flavor in certain areas.

Your “About” section is a great place to inject a little pizzazz. The same goes for your posts.

While you still want to be professional, you don’t have to hold back everything. Let your personality come through a bit, ensuring the hiring manager and recruiter get a good gauge of who you are beyond your credentials.

12. Avoid Skills Overload

While LinkedIn will let you add up to 50 skills, that’s usually far more than you actually need. In the end, relevancy is the key to success. So, focus on skills that relate to the job you want, ensuring those are front and center. Then, cut any that won’t help you move forward, keeping the list concise.

13. Run Some A/B Tests

Are you torn between using two approaches for a section on your profile, like your LinkedIn summary or headline? Then run a simple A/B test.

With an A/B test, you’d set your profile up with one version of that section for a specific amount of time, such as two weeks or a month. Then, change that section to the alternative for the same timeframe.

At the end of the test, see which version got more visits, direct messages, or other kinds of engagement from the types of hiring managers and recruiters you want to impress. That way, you know which one is resonating more with your core audience.

14. Go Beyond Your Resume

While some of the information on your LinkedIn profile is going to line up directly with your resume, you also want to offer visitors more. The platform gives you a chance to craft a broader narrative, highlighting both where you are now and where you want to go.

Take advantage of everything the platform has to offer. Talk about more accomplishments than you can fit on a traditional application. Create posts that position you as a subject-matter expert. Those little extras can make a difference.

15. Make Updates Regularly

Keeping your profile up to date is crucial if you want to leverage LinkedIn for all it’s worth. First, staying current ensures that recruiters and hiring managers know what you bring to the table right now, not just what you could do several months or years ago.

Second, if you’re launching a job search and you’re employed, a series of updates all at once might catch your current employer’s attention. If they notice the changes, they might assume that you’re about to head for the door. That can actually put your job at risk, which is never a good thing.

If you need to do bulk changes before a job search, make sure you disable your activity broadcasts. That way, other people won’t get status alerts every time you make an adjustment to your profile.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, all of the LinkedIn profile tips above can make a difference. Use them all when you create or spruce up your profile. That way, when it’s time for your next job search, you’ll be ready.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Jeff Gillis

Co-founder and CTO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Jeff is a featured contributor delivering advice on job search, job interviews and career advancement, having published more than 50 pieces of unique content on the site, with his work being featured in top publications such as INC, ZDnet, MSN and more. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.