If you’re wondering what to put on your LinkedIn profile or what the ideal profile should look like, then keep reading.
As a former recruiter, I’m going to share:
- What to put on your LinkedIn profile: All key sections explained
- Why your LinkedIn experience section may be the most important section, and examples of how to write it to make your LinkedIn stand out
- Tips for all other important sections to make your LinkedIn grab attention and get you job offers
- More LinkedIn tips and mistakes to avoid
What to Put on Your LinkedIn Profile When Job Searching:
Your LinkedIn profile contains the following important sections, which you should complete:
- Profile photo
- LinkedIn headline
- LinkedIn summary
- Work experience descriptions
- Recommendations from colleagues
- Education and certifications
- Volunteer experience
Now that you know which sections to put on your LinkedIn profile, keep reading for each of these LinkedIn profile sections explained.
1. Profile Photo
LinkedIn users will see your profile image even clicking on your profile.
They see it when you comment on a post, when you try to connect with them, when you apply to a job, and more.
So it’s a crucial piece to include in any profile.
As you fill out your profile, choose a professional, friendly-looking profile photo where your face is clearly visible.
Here’s a screenshot of what your headshot should look like, and a big mistake to avoid. This is an example of a search that I ran as a recruiter:
As a recruiter, I’m not going to click the person with no profile image.
Not having a LinkedIn profile photo is a big mistake if you’re job searching. Employers and recruiters might suspect your account is fake, and even if not, they’ll wonder why you don’t have a photo when practically everyone else does. It just seems odd and brings up unnecessary concerns.
And choosing the wrong photo can also hurt you in your job search.
So choose a professional-looking headshot to put on your LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t need to be perfect. But pick something where you’re dressed pretty well and look like you’re confident, smiling, happy, etc.
LinkedIn offers these 5 tips for picking the right profile photo if you want more help with this.
2. LinkedIn Headline
Just like with your profile photo, your headline is seen before someone even clicks your profile.
Even though your headline is fewer than 50 words, it’s one of the most important sections of your LinkedIn because it influences whether someone clicks on your profile.
As you write your headline, choose keywords and descriptive words that show your exact skill set and also how you’re a good match for the next type of opportunity you’re looking for.
Note: there’s no rule that your LinkedIn headline must be your current or most recent job title.
It’s a missed opportunity to leave your headline as “Software Developer” or “Customer Service Representative,” for example.
Instead, add more detail to stand out from industry peers. Add key skills and keywords that show more of what you can offer an employer if hired for a new job.
3. LinkedIn Summary
The summary section of your LinkedIn profile is important because it appears high up in your profile and is very flexible in terms of what you can include.
You can include links to portfolio pieces or past projects, you can include emojis to catch attention, or just text. The flexibility of your LinkedIn summary gives you a chance to be more creative than many other LinkedIn sections, so take advantage.
If you’re unsure what to write and you’re in an active job search, pick up a few job descriptions of the roles you’re targeting.
Now think, “How can I write my summary to show employers I have the skills and experience they’re looking for in their job?”
There’s no “right” length for a LinkedIn summary, but you should write at least one to two paragraphs and can write much more if you have more relevant info to include.
Never skip this section since it’s one of the first places a recruiter or hiring manager looks.
(It’s not the absolute first place I looked as a recruiter, though. That section is next, so keep reading…)
4. Work Experience
While your photo and headline are most important in getting someone to click your LinkedIn profile, your work experience section is the most important piece once they’re viewing your profile.
As a recruiter, this was always the first section I looked at on a candidate’s profile. I looked here before skills, before your summary, and before anything else.
This is because when employers are trying to find people for their jobs, they’re looking for similarities between past job descriptions and pats work. The best way for them to quickly see that you’d be likely to succeed in their role is to see that you’ve done similar tasks in the past.
(FYI, this is true on a resume, too. I always read the resume work experience before anything else, and it’s by far the most important section of your resume).
So use the following tips to make your LinkedIn work descriptions stand out…
Keep the “Main” Sections Shorter Than Your Resume
When it comes to things like your work experience and bullets, your LinkedIn profile should be shorter than your resume. Assume people are reading it for just a few seconds per job listing.
So pick your top 3-4 bullets from your resume per job, and put those. But cut the rest out.
Also consider including a one-sentence description of your work in each role too, just above the bullets. This is typically a bit longer on a resume, but if it’s already just one sentence on your resume, you can copy it over. If not, I’d shorten it a bit.
The only exception to this rule: The “summary” that appears below your name but above your work history on LinkedIn. I’d recommend that be 2-3 sentences on your resume, and around the same length on LinkedIn too.
So that’s something you CAN copy over. If you’re not sure how to write a resume summary that’ll stand out and impress employers, you can learn how here.
How Long to Make Your LinkedIn Work Descriptions for Each Job
It doesn’t. There’s no “golden rule” here. Some people will read more content if you put it. But here’s the thing… the goal of your LinkedIn (or resume) isn’t to get them to read every word. It’s to make them reply and invite you to interview, right?
They might still have some questions and want to know more after reading your LinkedIn, but they’ll see enough that they want to talk. And that’s the goal. They’ll find out the rest by asking you questions in the interview.
And keeping things brief will force you to focus on narrowing down your bullets and accomplishments to just the most impressive.
If I told you to include 10 bullets per job, you wouldn’t be as selective and wouldn’t write great bullet points. But if you limit it to 3-4 bullets per job like I’m suggesting, your LinkedIn profile will have nothing but awesome bullets.
Taking the time to “trim the fat” and put only your best highlights on LinkedIn is going to make you stand out while also making your profile more attractive to read/skim, which is what you want as a job seeker.
Show Progress or Advancement Whenever You Can
Employers LOVE it when you advance within a company, get promoted, etc.
So any time you can show that, do it.
Here’s a really simple example from the first recruiting job I ever had. I started as an Executive Recruiter and then got promoted to Senior Executive Recruiter. So I made sure to show this progression on my LinkedIn:
Note that your profile should definitely have more detail than this.
I edited this down because it’s very far in the past, I’m not job searching, everyone knows what the job title “Executive Recruiter” means, and I mostly want to show the advancement I made and the leadership I started doing here.
But in your 2-3 most recent jobs… make sure to put more detail about what your job actually involves.
Aim for around 4 bullet points like I mentioned earlier. The #1 thing hiring managers and recruiters want to see is what you’ve worked on/accomplished recently.
One more note about showing advancement and progression: This doesn’t always need to be an official change in job title or salary. If you had a change in responsibilities (like starting to mentor/train new team members), you can still mention it on your LinkedIn and show how you progressed (even if your pay and/or job title stayed the same).
Focus Mostly on Your Recent Work
This is one of the key strategies I recommend for what to put on your LinkedIn profile…
Now, if you’re job searching with no experience, or right after college, this won’t matter for you because you don’t have a ton of jobs to list anyway – but if you have many years of work experience and many past jobs… spend more time (and space) on your LinkedIn profile on the 2-3 most recent jobs!
So for example, the most recent job could have 4 bullet points and a 2-sentence description above it.
The next job down would have 3-4 bullet points and a 1-sentence description.
And so forth…
By the time you get to the fourth or fifth job, it might just be a one-sentence description with 2 bullets, or just 2-3 bullets.
That’s not some rule that you have to follow 100%, but it’s the general pattern you should follow – use most of your time, and most of the space on your LinkedIn work history, for writing about your most recent work.
You Don’t Need to Put Every Past Job on Your LinkedIn Profile
Just like with your resume, consider removing positions entirely if they’re many years in the past and totally unrelated to the jobs you’re applying for now.
This is mostly a tip for job seekers with 15+ years of experience.
There’s no rule that says you need to list every previous job when writing your LinkedIn profile or resume.
Formatting Your LinkedIn Work History – Keep it Simple
You can also see how I used very simple formatting to grab attention in the screenshot above. I just typed “–” before the descriptions, and it stands out visually in the example above.
So you can consider doing something like this too but don’t overboard. No recruiter or hiring manager likes a profile flooded with symbols, emojis and other graphics making it hard to read or focus.
So find one or two small things to do that’ll stand out, but then keep it very simple and focus on writing awesome content that’ll make the reader want to set up a phone interview or talk to you.
Also, copy what looks good on other profiles. Borrow ideas. If you think the best writers out there don’t take ideas from others, you’re wrong. So you don’t need to start with a “blank page” for any of this. Look around at other people in your industry, take an idea here or there, and make note of what looks good and what doesn’t.
Now, don’t go copy one person’s LinkedIn profile. Don’t plagiarize. But do take inspiration.
LinkedIn gives you 50 skill slots and you should take full advantage when filling out your profile.
LinkedIn skills serve as keywords and will help your profile appear higher up in recruiter searches.
You can only include a few keywords in your headline, LinkedIn summary, and other sections.
At least, without looking like you’re just cramming excess keywords into your profile to be seen (and that’s not good).
Whereas, you can fill all 50 skill slots on LinkedIn and still have a natural-looking profile.
This greatly helps recruiters find you in search results, so take advantage.
You can include hard skills/job-related skills, but also soft skills. Get creative and come up with a diverse list of skills that you’ve gathered in your career, but with a focus on the 50 skills that employers will find relevant for the job you’re hoping to land next.
LinkedIn recommendations are a strong way to show employers that your professional background is relevant and that you’ve performed at a high level in past jobs.
Most people who use LinkedIn don’t have a single written recommendation (which is different than simply getting endorsements for skills). So ask colleagues who you’ve worked with in your career to write recommendations speaking to the quality of your work, and then offer to do the same for them.
7. Education and Certifications
Next, complete your education info and also add any relevant certifications and licenses you’ve obtained in your career.
Like the sections above, think about what’s relevant for the role and industry that you’re in, though. If you’re in an industry closely related to your educational background, you may want to include more information.
If you’ve had a long professional career and moved away from anything related to what you studied in college, you can just mention your degree briefly without as much detail.
That’s the path I followed in my career; I graduated with a degree in finance but never took a finance job, so I simply mention my degree without as much detail on my profile. Use this as an example of what to do if you simply want to show that you have a degree, but if you’ve moved on in your career and it’s no longer relevant to most employers:
If you think boosting your skills or adding a new course to your education would help you find a new job, then you can also take courses directly on LinkedIn, via LinkedIn Learning.
That’s another great way to make your LinkedIn profile stand out to prospective employers.
LinkedIn offers a dedicated Accomplishments section where you can highlight everything from languages spoken to projects and publications.
This section is a great place to mention any side projects or hobbies that will complement your professional career. You can also elaborate on your professional work experience by including work-related awards and projects.
Like your Summary section, this section is incredibly flexible so you can get creative and use it in different ways depending on your industry and job type.
Here’s an example of my Accomplishments section at the time of writing this:
Each of these accomplishments can be expanded by the reader (by clicking the arrows on the right-hand side) and for some types of accomplishments, you can even include links to external sites.
This is useful for showcasing publications and other accomplishments that are completely separate from LinkedIn.
9. Volunteer Experience
If you’ve done any volunteer work, LinkedIn allows you a separate section to include this, too.
Navigate to your LinkedIn profile, click the “Add Section” button, and select “Volunteer Experience.”
This allows you to add another impressive section to your LinkedIn profile that some job seekers won’t have, and gives you an opportunity to show employers that you’re well-rounded in your career and active in the community.
Employers in any industry will view volunteer experience as a relevant, favorable trait.
Conclusion: What to Put on Your LinkedIn Profile
Whether you’re in a job search or just trying to network or grow your personal brand, the above sections are the must-have pieces to put on your LinkedIn profile.
If you complete the sections above, you’ll show up in more search results, make more professional connections, and get more job offers through LinkedIn.
Once you’ve completed your profile, shouldn’t just wait for people to connect with you, though.
Take an active approach to building your network and making connections. Connect with people in your industry, join relevant LinkedIn groups, participate in discussions or start some of your own, leave comments on posts that seem interesting to you, and repeat the process to get your profile seen more.
This will amplify the number of people who see your LinkedIn profile and will give you access to even more opportunities.