Job Search

Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Profile Optimization

optimizing Linkedin profile

Fact: Social media platforms help people land jobs — and LinkedIn is where you should get the most active if you want to advance your career. 

LinkedIn is the place to discover companies that are hiring and to get scouted by a recruiter. Apart from applying to open jobs, you can attract recruiters and decision-makers towards you by becoming more visible on the platform. 

This guide explains how to set up and optimize your LinkedIn profile to attract relevant job offers and stand out among others. 

Setting Up Your LinkedIn Profile for the First Time: What You Need to Do 

Anyone can register a free account on LinkedIn 

You will need to provide your full name, email address, and password to get started. You can’t use a fictitious name or a professional pseudonym. 

Afterward, you’ll be prompted to complete your profile. 

At the very least, your LinkedIn profile should include:

  • A professional headshot
  • A brief LinkedIn profile summary and headline 
  • Your work history in reverse chronological order (like a resume does) 
  • Education and professional training details. 

Let’s get you sorted with the basics first. 

Add a Good LinkedIn Profile Photo 

Select a professional headshot in 400 x 400 pix — the recommended LinkedIn profile picture size. 

Use a fresh photo that reflects how you look in your everyday (professional) life — your hair color, haircut, glasses, makeup, and so on. You don’t want potential recruiters to wonder if they have the right person at the Zoom interview.

Unlike official ID documents, it’s alright to smile or not look straight at the camera. But your face must still take roughly 60% of the frame. You can always crop the picture to better fit in the round profile area. 

Example of a Great LinkedIn Profile Picture 

great profile picture example for Linkedin Melinda Gates

Some final LinkedIn photo tips:

  • Don’t post a selfie
  • Avoid bright backgrounds 
  • Keep your attire professional 
  • Don’t use too many filters 

Pro Tip: Try #OpenToWork Profile Photo Frame

LinkedIn recently added two new types of profile photo frames:

  • OpenToWork — for job seekers
  • Hiring — for employers 
open to work badge Linkedin

Source: LinkedIn 

You can use the frame to showcase your job search status either to your entire network or to only LinkedIn users who have ‘Recruiter’ profiles. 

According to LinkedIn, the OpenToWork profile frame increases your chances of receiving a relevant message from a recruiter by 40%.  You can also filter out your contacts (or prospective ones) by ‘Hiring’ photo frame and reach out to them directly. 

Select a LinkedIn Background Photo

Next, you should add a LinkedIn background image that would sit atop your profile. By default, this area has a grayish placeholder image. 

If you’re just getting started, don’t waste too much time on this. Browse free stock photo websites like Unsplash or Pixabay to find a neutral wallpaper image (e.g., some interesting texture, pattern, or cityscape, etc). Select a background image that matches the color palette of your LinkedIn profile photo. 

Customize Your Profile URL 

LinkedIn lets you create a custom URL for your profile ( 

Not only a vanity URL is easier to fit on a business card or share at a networking event, but it can help with LinkedIn profile optimization too. LinkedIn URLs that include your name are much more likely to show up in search results when someone searches for your name than a generic URL with random numbers.

Hack Your LinkedIn Headline

Perhaps the most important part of your LinkedIn profile is the headline. This is an ‘elevator pitch’ that grabs the people’s attention. 

Your name and headline are what show up in searches and need to be informative and eye-catching, not the standard “Current title + Current Job” that 80% of people use. 

Here’s how to create an attention-grabbing LinkedIn headline:

  • Showcase your main value proposition. For example: “Experienced PR specialist for Software Vendors — Secured coverage in Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch. 1500+ journalist and investor contacts in the books”. 
  • Tout your accolades and certifications. “#3 in top 50 most creating architects of the 21st century. Specialty: minimalism, sustainable residential buildings”. 
  • Describe your responsibilities and specialty. For instance: “A compassionate and energetic Registered Nurse with a solid career track of working at nursing homes”. 

NB: LinkedIn headline length is limited to 220 characters

Decide What To Put In Your LinkedIn Summary

A good LinkedIn summary includes the following elements:

  • A professional headline of 120 words (or less) that mentions your career focus and key skills.
  • A snapshot of your work experience, main duties, and achievements.
  • Industry accolades, certifications, and/or other credentials that make you more attractive as a job candidate.
  • Links to portfolio items, case studies, or other PDFs that can illustrate your work experience.

Add Work History on LinkedIn

To add a current or past position, click on your profile page and scroll to the “Experience” section. Then click “+” icon, and tap “Add Position” from the dropdown menu. You’ll then see a template for listing your career history. 

work experience on Linkedin

Complete all the applicable form fields and write a short summary. Style it similarly to a resume work experience entry: 

  • Describe your role and company 
  • List major accomplishments 
  • Add some duties as bullet points 

Rinse and repeat for all the other positions. You can keep the descriptions shorter for the ones you’ve held 10+ years ago and skip mentioning unrelated jobs (e.g., your summer waiting gig during college if you graduated 15 years ago). 

Complete the “Skills” Section  

LinkedIn Skills section is a great place to showcase your core competencies. Also, the skills you add there (and proof of having by completing Skills Assessments or earning upvotes from your network) will help you rank higher in search results. 

A good LinkedIn skills section highlights a mix of technical skills (70%-80%) and soft skills (30%-20%), relevant to your current role (and the one you aspire to get next). 

Not sure about your strengths?  Try Career Explorer Tool. It helps:

  • Learn how different skills overlap across industries and positions
  • Discover emerging roles and requirements for them
  • Understand which skills are in high demand 
open jobs Linkedin

You can also instantly view all open jobs in the category you are researching or find individual connections who are hiring. 

To strengthen your profile, you can also complete available LinkedIn Skill Assessments — a feature that allows users to complete quick tests to prove their proficiency in the listed skills. Sometimes recruiters may directly request you to complete a Skill Assessment as part of your LinkedIn job application. 

You can learn more about LinkedIn keyword research and Skills section optimization from “Secret Guide to Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile”, available as part of the Job Search Bundle

List Your Education 

Similar to Work Experience, LinkedIn provides a pre-designed form for adding your education. Keep it short and add all higher education you’ve completed. 

listing your education on Linkedin

Don’t have a degree? Don’t worry. LinkedIn allows you to also add recent courses (including online ones!), professional licenses, and certification programs. Take advantage of these instead. 

Add Connections 

LinkedIn is a social media network, meaning that the more people you know — the higher your chances of getting onto someone else’s radar. So once you are done with filling in your LinkedIn profile, work on growing your professional network.

  • Connect with all your current and former colleagues
  • Add people from your college
  • Seek our connections with recruiters & HRs in companies you might be interested in working

Pair your connection request with a short personal note. For example:

“Hello Mike, It looks like we are both working in the digital banking industry. I’m a Senior UX Designer at CocoBank, experienced in interaction design, rapid prototyping, and former Finalists in the Stirling Prize. Let me know if I could be of any help!”

Follow Dream Companies

We all have those companies that we would love to work for at some point. And LinkedIn is the place to follow them. Why? Because most employers share their latest vacancies on LinkedIn. Plus, their recruiters are often active on the platform.

By following your ideal employers on LinkedIn, you can:

  • Be among the first to learn about new job opportunities
  • Get approached by similar companies who are looking for the skills you have and see your interest as a positive thing.

With that base covered, you can already apply for LinkedIn jobs. But to get the maximum out of LinkedIn, you should optimize your profile further, so that a) you could receive more relevant job invitations and suggestions b) rank higher among recently applied applicants c) appear on top of search results for certain skills. 

How to Write a LinkedIn Profile Summary That Gets Employer Attention 

An impactful LinkedIn profile summary includes your main elevator pitch within the first 300 characters. An elevator pitch is a succinct summary of your key skills and the value you can deliver at the workplace. Your opening paragraph must encourage a potential connection to click “See more”.

Example of a great LinkedIn Profile Summary 

Linkedin profile summary example

Before you start banging random words on your keyboard, take a five and ponder over your strengths as a job candidate. Harvard’s Office of Alumni Affairs and Career Advancements suggests that you ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s your ideal job?
  • Where do you want to head next in your career?
  • What are your main skills & talents?
  • Which achievement do you want to be known for?
  • What are some of your main personality traits, interests, and values?
  • What differentiates you from other candidates?
  • How would your peers describe you?

Once you have the answers, start writing your LinkedIn profile summary. For convenience, apply this formula:

  • A statement, defining your key career focus or a 
  • List 2-3 of your most prominent skills
  • Include a big “bragging right” or a quantifiable achievement
  • Elaborate further on your career progression 
  • Conclude with a call-to-action 

To illustrate these points, here’s a sample LinkedIn profile opening paragraph for a sales manager:

“Seasoned (5+ years) Automotive Sales Executive, working at Ford dealership. Previously, Toyota and BMW. Proactive, friendly go-getter, who closes new deals 15% faster than my peers. I’m passionate about helping customers to find the optimal vehicle for their needs and become a loyal brand supporter”. 

Remember: your LinkedIn profile summary is an entrée, not the main course.

It should not recite your resume or other information you have listed in the Work Experience section. Instead, it should provide a quick overview of your main experience and achievements.

Ideally, you should answer these three questions in your summary:

  • What are you doing right now?
  • What are your main achievements?
  • Where do you want to be next?

Once you’re done with a draft version, it’s time to optimize your LinkedIn profile for higher visibility. 

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Summary for Visibility 

While LinkedIn has a dedicated section where you can list up to 50 skills, you should also add the best skills (aka keywords) in your profile summary. 

Keywords are search terms recruiters use to discover candidates on LinkedIn (e.g., chemical engineer, UX/UI designer, medical writer, etc.). 

OK, but where do I find keywords for LinkedIn? 

  1. Look into the popular job descriptions in your industry and jot down any recurring hard and soft skills
  1. Check your peers’ profiles and see what words they are using to describe their skill sets.
  1. Browse the official LinkedIn Skills database for suggestions (part of the Skills profile section).

Also, Stanford has a nice list of LinkedIn keywords for different career niches.

Best LinkedIn Profile Summary Examples 

Michelle Broderick

Former SVP of Marketing at Automatic

Linkedin summary example Michelle

Aaksha Meghawat

Machine Learning @ Apple

Linkedin summary example Aaksha

Jen Eastwood

Director of Public Relations at Foundry

Linkedin summary example Jen

Ask for Recommendations 

LinkedIn recommendations strengthen your profile credibility. 

Although recommendations are at the bottom of the page, they still play a vital role for recruiters. Similar to references on a resume, LinkedIn recommendations provide external validation of your skills and work experience. Some well-written ones also offer a glimpse into your personality and character. 

Research indicates profiles with Recommendations tend to rank higher in search results for relevant keywords that recruiters use to discover you. Who wouldn’t want to be among the first suggestions, am I right? So treat recommendation requests as another step of your LinkedIn profile optimization. 

How To Ask For Recommendation On LinkedIn

Asking for a recommendation on LinkedIn is dead simple:

  1. Scroll down to the Recommendations section on your profile
  2. Click “Ask to be Recommended” 
  3. Select a connection to request a recommendation from. 
  4. Wait for their reply. 

Whom Should You Ask For a Recommendation on LinkedIn? 

Here are some good candidates: 

  • Former manager/direct supervisor
  • Mentor or educational supervisor 
  • Someone else you’ve worked closely with 

LinkedIn lets the recommender indicate the relationship to the recommended person and it would be visible on your profile. If there isn’t one, some recruiters may wonder about the “genuineness” of the recommendation. Thus it’s always best to ask someone you’ve worked with. 

Also, a good idea is to pick a person with an up-to-date LinkedIn profile. Because in this case, it would be easier for the recruiter to establish your connection (e.g. by seeing that you’ve worked for the same company at the same time).  

Finally, don’t just take — give! Reciprocity is key to accumulating a nice round-up of LinkedIn recommendations. Offer the other person to write an endorsement for them too. 

LinkedIn Recommendation Examples

Alright, let’s give the above advice some extra context by showcasing examples of great LinkedIn recommendations for different positions. 

LinkedIn Recommendation Example For Sales Professional 

“Sam is a standout sales manager for pharmaceuticals. During her time at Pharma Co, where I worked as a Senior Sales Executive, Sam consistently met and exceeded the set quotas. In fact, she was the leading salesperson on a major deal with a transnational pharma company and successfully closed the 8-week negotiating round, bringing over $8 million in new business for our company. If you are looking for a skilled presenter with high emotional intelligence and deep knowledge of N.E.A.T selling methodology, Sam would be a great addition to your team”. 

LinkedIn Recommendation Example For Manager 

“During the past five years, Lydia acted as a Service Manager within the Customer Success department at Startup XO, where I directly supervised her work. Easy-going, efficient, and customer-oriented. Lydia has quickly developed a reputation as a go-to person for all questions related to managing service categories and developing SLAs. She has a strong analytics mindset and great resilience for navigating crisis situations. During an SLA breach, Lydia managed to retain a customer on the brink of leaving the business. If you wish to get a creative problem-solver on your team with a pleasant demeanor, Lydia is a strong contender”. 

Start Publishing Content On LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is a social media platform. As such, it encourages active participation — likes, comments, and content creation. 

If you can, it never hurts to publish some content straight onto LinkedIn. You have several options for that:

  • LinkedIn Articles aka blog posts: A good avenue for re-publishing content you’ve written on your corporate blog or sharing other thought-leadership pieces. 
  • Posts: Shorter text, image, video, or link updates that you can share with your network.  
  • Newsletter: As of recently, LinkedIn also allows the creation of newsletters — sequential posts that would be shared with subscribers. 

Publishing meaningful content on LinkedIn improves your personal brand and visibility on the platform. Posts with high engagement not only appear in your connections’ feeds but also get promoted to other users aka you get more attention to your professional persona. 

LinkedIn Content Ideas for Job Seekers (with Examples!) 

  1. Share bite-sized industry tips and resources.
content ideas for Linkedin - industy tips
  1. Show how you do your work with a carousel post.
content ideas for Linkedin - carousel post
  1. Share some of your “life/work philosophy”
content ideas for Linkedin - life work philosophy
  1. Publish a “hot take” or a punchy industry observation 
content ideas for Linkedin - industy observation
  1. Share your perspective about the industry news and current affairs.
content ideas for Linkedin - industy news perspective

6. Talk about your past and present accomplishments.

content ideas for Linkedin - accomplishments

How To See Who Viewed Your LinkedIn Profile?

 If you have a basic (free) LinkedIn account, you already have access to your profile views.

To see who viewed your profile, all you have to do is go to the top right of your LinkedIn homepage and click the “Me” tab, where your profile picture is located. Then, right below your name, title, and profile picture, click “View Profile”.

The dashboard will show you the number of people who viewed your profile in the last 90 days, as well as how many article views you have received and how many searches you have been included in.

You’re the only person who has access to this information.

who viewed your profile on Linkedin

By clicking on “Who viewed your profile”, you can see who has been checking out your profile in the last three months. Unless, of course, their profiles are on Private Mode. What does that mean?

How Linkedin Private Mode Anonymizes Profile Views

Each LinkedIn user can select different privacy modes for their account in their privacy settings. That means they’ll have the freedom to analyze profiles without exposing their identity.

In LinkedIn Private Mode, all your profile information — name, current employer, etc, — is hidden from other users until you send them a connection request and they accept it. 

Linkedin private mode

Browsing in LinkedIn Private Mode gives you the advantage to browse different employers and recruiters as you do company research pre-interview or look for inspiration before writing your LinkedIn profile summary. 

Just keep in mind that anonymizing yourself will also prevent you from seeing who’s viewed your profile.

Depending on a viewer’s privacy choice, you’ll only be able to see partial information about them (such as name, location, and industry) or no information at all. Most of the time, all you’ll know is that they’re a “LinkedIn Member”. Yes, even if you have a LinkedIn Premium account.

How To Find Out Who Viewed Your LinkedIn Profile Anonymously?

Truth is, there’s no surefire way to do this, especially if potential recruiters have their privacy set to anonymous. Typically, all you’ll see is 5 viewers who checked your profile in the last 90 days. Other viewers will be anonymized and you’d be prompted to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium. 

You can’t tell learn more unless you try the following LinkedIn profile views hack suggested by a Reddit user:

“Just screenshot the 10 people and come back the next day. The nine randoms (will) regenerate letting you discover the real person by process of elimination.”

This will require a bit of patience on your part, but it’s a viable solution if you really want to know who wants to connect with you or evaluates you for a new job. Of course, not all recruiters will have their profiles anonymized, which could make your job a lot easier.

Final Tip: Keep Building Your Network 

LinkedIn is all about connecting with people. Don’t be afraid to send connection requests to people you admire or those working in the companies you’d want to join.

But preface such connection requests with a personalized note. Keep it simple, something along the lines of “I want to connect with you because of [your reason]”. 

Also, remember that LinkedIn uses a system to grade your contacts:

  • First-degree contacts are people you have connected with. 
  • Second-degree contacts are their contacts – so one step removed from you but with someone in common. 
  • Third-degree contacts are someone you don’t share a contact with.

You can approach any level of contact, but the second-degree ones can be the best – that shared contact will show and make them more receptive. And a profile with 100 connections could mean thousands of second-degree connections!


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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