How to stand out on LinkedIn

Illustration showing how people are connected on LinkedIn

Could a LinkedIn profile be the key to getting your next job?

Let LinkedIn work for you

When you’re hunting for a job you may have to sleep but your social media accounts don’t.

More than 540 million people have profiles on LinkedIn – a social media network that spotlights your experience and connects you with professional groups and businesses.

Not only can you use your LinkedIn profile as an online CV to connect with people – if you use the right key words, they can also search for you.

Having a profile can be a useful tool in your job-hunting kit, but with so many people using LinkedIn the challenge is to make yourself stand out.

By concentrating on the photo, headline and summary at the top of your profile you can give employers and recruiters a sense of you, your personality and what you could bring to a job.

Infographic to show the top of a LinkedIn profile page

Focus on the top of your LinkedIn profile to get the attention of employers and recruiters

Choose the right photo

Your photo is usually the first thing someone sees when they click on your LinkedIn profile. It can affect how competent, likeable or influential people think you are.

When deciding on a profile photo, choose one that:

  • is up to date and looks professional
  • frames your head, shoulders and upper body
  • shows you smiling
  • shows you in clothes you would wear to work.

Avoid using:

  • selfies
  • photos where you’re wearing sunglasses
  • photos that are low quality, too dark or too bright.

Websites such as Photofeeler.com can show you how to select the right photo.

How to crop a LinkedIn profile photo

Frame your head and shoulders instead of using a full portrait

Use key words in your headline

After your photo, the next thing people will probably glance at is your headline. With it you have 120 characters to tell people who you are or what you can do for them. If you want recruiters to find you online make sure you use key words, such as job titles or skills employers may be looking for, so that your profile comes up high in search results.

Work out good key words for you by:

  • making a list of key words that describe your skills and experience
  • scrolling through job advertisements for the types of jobs you’re interested in and noting key words.

If you choose to use your job title as your headline make it easy to read by:

  • keeping the title short
  • using | to break up long titles or sections

By default LinkedIn automatically fills in the headline with your job title but you can change this. You can add extra titles or you can edit the headline to make a statement and tell people what you can do for them.

Websites such as Jobscan.co can analyse your headline to help you perfect it.

Infographic to show different headline styles

You can use the headline to show your job titles or make a statement, or a combination of both

Show your personality in your summary

Your summary under the headline is where you get to tell a little bit about yourself in your own words.

"The best summaries include experience, skills, motivation and interests," LinkedIn senior marketing manager Blair Decembrele says.

"Treat your summary as your 'elevator pitch' to show your experience and what motivates you," she says. "You can also include recreational activities which helped you develop professional skills."

There is no one right way to write your summary but here are some things to consider:

  • make it authentic
  • use humour, if that's you
  • share some of your interests
  • highlight relevant experiences.

You can find more tips on creating a good profile on the LinkedIn website.

Include your location

Recruiters can search for job candidates by area, so if you want to make sure you're included in their search results don't forget to include your location in your profile.

List your experience, education and skills

Below the summary you can list your work experience, education and skills. Use these sections to show your work history and to expand on details in your summary.

Connect with people

Once you've started your profile, put it to good use by connecting with people.

Use the search field to find past and current colleagues, friends or people you studied with and ask to connect with them by clicking the "connect" button on their profile. You can also search for people who work in your industry or have jobs that interest you.

LinkedIn lets you connect with people you don’t know – just remember to write a personalised LinkedIn invitation to let them know who you are and why you're interested in connecting with them.

Another way to connect with people is to join groups. LinkedIn will suggest groups you might be interested in based on your profile, but you can also do your own searches.

When a member of your group posts a link or writes a blog post you’ll be able to see what people are talking about and join in conversations. It's a great way to keep up to date with developments in your industry, get ideas and meet people. You can even contribute your own blog posts.

Keep your profile up to date

Your profile can work for you all the time, but to make the most of it you should keep it fresh by:

  • updating your experience when you change jobs or take on new responsibilities
  • keeping your profile photo up to date.

If you like writing you can also keep your profile fresh by blogging regularly about topics relevant to your work.

With a little bit of planning, and by keeping it up to date, your LinkedIn profile can be an effective way to stand out to employers and recruiters and help you find work.

Updated 17 Oct 2018