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Are you ready to embrace LinkedIn and use it as a tool in your job hunt? Have you created a profile but have no idea how to stand out and get noticed by recruiters? It’s easier than you may think. Read on to learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile page to target employers in your industry.

Go Private While You Adjust

You’re about to make several changes to your LinkedIn profile. By default LinkedIn will inform all of your contacts every time you update your information. It’s great to let your network know when you land a new job or earn a new certificate. It’s not such a great idea, however, to bombard them with constant notifications while you work to fine tune your profile.

Before starting the steps below, turn off your activity broadcasts and set your activity feed to be viewable by you alone. You’ll find the tools to do this under your LinkedIn privacy settings.

Be sure to reverse the changes once you’re done updating your profile.

Claim a Custom URL

Is your information all set to private? Great! The next step in gaining positive attention from potential employers is claiming a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile. When you create a profile, the default URL is just a long list of letters and numbers, but you can easily change it to be your name.

Which of these calls-to-action looks better?

“You can view my profile at Linkedin.com/garygardener/fjfekr4j33iojfer3r3jfakl0054.”

Or

“Visit my profile at Linkedin.com/in/garygardener to learn more about me.”

The second one, of course. A custom URL is more visually appealing and easier to remember. It makes you more searchable on LinkedIn and shows that you pay attention to detail.

Personalize Your Background

Are you still sporting that plain-jane, blue background that your profile received by default? It’s easier than you may think to add a touch of creativity with a custom background image. Choose a background image that depicts who you are and then navigate to your LinkedIn profile. You’ll see an edit icon in the right corner of the background photo that will allow you to upload your new image.

You don’t need to get too flashy – a simple solid color background that isn’t the overused “LinkedIn blue” is all you need to set you apart from other potential candidates.

Profile Pic or Bust

With a picture, your profile is up to 21 times more likely to receive views, and the profile picture you choose matters a lot. Use a professional headshot and forget about incorporating any distracting props. If you don’t have a profile pic or if you’re using the space to display your favorite emoticon or landscape image, you’re at a disadvantage.

Become Discoverable

How will potential employers find your profile on LinkedIn? When they’re looking for someone to fill a job opening, they’ll click the search box and enter a few words. If your profile doesn’t use these keywords, it’s unlikely to be in the results.

Imagine what employers may search for when they are looking for somebody with your set of skills. Then, incorporate those terms into your profile.

Remember, though, that real people will be reading your profile. It must sound natural — don’t stuff it with stilted keywords. If you just define your goals and related experience precisely, your profile will likely contain the necessary words to match an employer’s search query.

Keep Your Headline Relevant

If you think it’s a good idea to get creative and use an edgy quote or off-topic blurb as your headline, think again. The LinkedIn search engine looks for keywords in your headline when deciding what profiles to include for a particular search query.

If Diva Dianne is looking for a dance partner but the perfect candidate’s LinkedIn headline is a Britney Spears quote with no mention of dancing, these two showstoppers are never going to connect.

Grab attention with a headline that precisely defines your skill set – not with a statement that’s clever. It won’t be seen due to lack of discoverability. A good LinkedIn headline should be unique, but it should also contain words that express exactly what you can provide an employer.

Craft an Enticing Summary

A lot of people fill out the summary section as if they were writing a resume. They discuss their past work experience and their skills, but they don’t incorporate any personality.

Your LinkedIn summary should be creative. It should open with a bang to draw employers in and make them want to know more about you. It should discuss, in an engaging manner, your experience and passions as they relate to your career goals.

Don’t rely on text alone. LinkedIn allows you to insert images, videos, PowerPoint presentations, and other kinds of media to draw the attention of potential employers. Use your summary to create a well-rounded, first or third person story about you that is compelling to read.

Finally, close with a call-to-action telling potential employers how they can contact you.

If You Don’t Have Volunteer Experience, Get Some

Does your experience as a volunteer really make a difference? It sure does: one out of five employers claim they’ve based a hiring decision on the contents of this LinkedIn profile field. If you’ve never volunteered before, it’s time to change that.

If you’re having a hard time finding volunteer opportunities, visit volunteermatch.org. You can sort opportunities by area or look for opportunities to volunteer from the comfort of your own computer. Look for volunteer work related to your professional industry as well as general causes you’re passionate about. (If you’re lucky, they’ll be one and the same.) That you spend time volunteering for causes related to your industry will stand out to employers looking for people passionate about their profession.

Don’t Just Join Groups, Participate

Now that your profile is full of useful information, it’s time to have a look at LinkedIn’s vast list of groups and join a few that are related to your industry.

How many groups should you join? Limit yourself to only as many as you’ll be able to actively participate in. You’ll want to be of value to the groups you join. Post useful content, ask insightful questions, and offer great advice.

As other members of your groups begin to notice the value you have to offer, they’ll be willing to connect with you, endorse your skills, and offer you recommendations. You’ll stand out as an expert in your field and draw attention from employers.

An incredible 92 percent of recruiters are turning to LinkedIn to find the perfect candidates to fill their positions. It’s time for you to grab their attention by optimizing your LinkedIn profile to target potential employers.

This post was originally published February 2016 and has been updated to be current in the new year.

About The Author

Anna Legault


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