Social media is the quickest, easiest way to communicate with large audiences. And for professionals of every stripe—from newly minted college grads to the big shots in the C-suite—LinkedIn is the place to be. But because it offers the biggest audience, it’s important to put your best foot forward in your LinkedIn profile. Follow these guidelines to expand your reach and make yourself—and your skills, interests, and goals—highly visible to recruiters.

Get ready for your closeup

Vacation snaps where you’re grinning from ear to ear because you’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower belong on Instagram. Your LinkedIn profile photo should be a professional headshot—and you don’t need to shell out for Annie Liebovitz to take one for you. LinkedIn reports that profiles featuring professional headshots get 14 times more views than those with less formal images. And while you’re at it, include a background photo, too—it’s another visual element that offers insight into who you are and where you’d like to go.

Headlines get attention

There are literally thousands of LinkedIn profiles for Marketing Associates and Sales Managers—both are impressive titles, but neither one tells your contacts what you really do all day. Instead, try something like “Team player, creative thinker.”

Tell the whole story

When you update your work experience, don’t just rehash your resume—offer details on a few key accomplishments. Be sure to use strong, active verbs: Lead, direct, and present are all great examples.

Speak their language

Learn the keywords and phrases that are commonly used in your industry, and be sure to include them throughout your profile, because recruiters are likely to search for them. If you’re making a big change, be aware that not everyone knows everybody else’s business: An advertising or marketing executive probably understands what a solutionist does, but an attorney may not.

Be specific

Top executives and recruiters alike spend hours in meetings listening to people “strategizing about synergistic opportunities.” Buzzwords like those tend to make their eyes glaze over! Instead, use concrete examples of things you’ve accomplished to describe your strengths.

Sum it up

Don’t skip the summary! It’s not just a synopsis of your story—it’s a great opportunity to showcase your passion and your expertise, as well as to let your network know where you’ve been, and where you’d like to go.

Go to the tape

Each experience section of your profile allows you to attach examples of your recent work. These can be short video clips of a presentation you’ve made or images of work you’re especially proud of. Explain your role in producing each piece, and why you think it’s successful.

Showcase your skills

In this section, focus on eight to 10 things that are especially meaningful to you and to people in your industry. Too many may make you appear unfocused, while too few could suggest a lack of real experience.

Follow the Golden Rule

When it comes to endorsements, share the love! Be generous when you give them, and polite when you ask for them. Recommendations, on the other hand, should only come from your highest-level connections, such as former supervisors.

Join the club

LinkedIn is full of smaller groups of professionals in various industries or with specific kinds of expertise. Joining groups is a great way to expand your network and meet people you might not otherwise find. Action step: why not join the Emerson Alumni group? And when recruiters see the list of groups you’ve joined, they’ll know that you’re committed to what you do.

Have a snappy handle

The URL that directs people to your profile is a long, garbled string of code. Take the opportunity to customize yours: Make it shorter by including your name and/or some keywords you’ve highlighted throughout your profile.

Keep the conversation flowing

In order to raise your profile among like-minded professionals, speak up! Post articles about issues facing your industry, and comment on other users’ posts. Share anything you find especially interesting, and if you find you’re particularly drawn to someone’s content, invite them to connect. After all, that’s how social networks work: By connecting with people who share your interests, you’ll be able to expand your network organically.

Play your own horn

Did you earn a fellowship last year? Did your team’s marketing campaign win an award? Have you been promoted? Your network should know about it! Don’t be bashful—keep your “awards and honors” section up to date. When people in your network mention it, you’ll know they’ve read your entire profile, and are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

To sum it up: a well-constructed Linked In profile is be a powerful marketing tool!

The Emerson Career Development team is a great resource to make yours happen: they offer LinkedIn-specific appointments to apply these ideas successfully!


Written by Fran Berrick

Check out Fran’s career coaching company, Spearmint, for more tips and resources!