The previous installment of the three most notable LinkedIn profile sections addressed the About section. This installment looks at what some, particularly recruiters, consider to be the most important section, Experience. If some of you protest Experience being the most important, don’t worry. The next installment will look at the Headline.
The ultimate theme of this compilation of sage advice is to show value in your Experience section. This goes without saying, but how you show it varies in method. For example, one pro advises to use bullets when sharing metrics.
Another pro advises you to make your Experience section more visual rather than simply listing all your duties; in other words, make it interesting to read.
Two recruiters weigh in, one emphatically stating that keywords, keywords, keywords in your Experience section are required to be found. Another explains how to lay out how to format your positions.
We can’t forget that personal “blanding” must be avoided at all costs warns one pro, while another one says, “Celebrate all you’ve accomplished, encountered and undergone with memorable high notes to keep readers glued.”
There’s much more, including thinking about your ABCs when writing your Experience section. More than one pro mentions keeping search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.
But I won’t sway your opinion as to which section is more important. Read what the pros have to say about Experience.
Make bulleted statements impactful
Recruiters and hiring managers tend to skim through your LinkedIn Experience section before reading closely. They’re viewing many profiles each day and may not read each one fully.
So you’ll get more of your information seen and read if you present it in bullet format since bullets are a format designed to grab attention and make information readable quickly.
Use either a combination of short paragraphs and bullets, or just bullets, and your Experience section will stand out from the many job seekers using only large paragraphs.
Share results and metrics
When writing bullets in your Experience section, don’t just repeat the phrase, “Responsible for…” and share your basic duties. It’s much more interesting to employers if you can talk about what you achieved in past roles.
If you can show how you helped a past employer, they’ll be thinking, “Great, imagine what they can do for us if we hire them.”
Here’s an example:
Rather than saying, “Responsible for training and team development,” you’d say, “Led 3-5 training exercises per week, helping the team ___.”
Now, if this next employer needs that type of work done for them, you’ve painted a clear picture of exactly how you can step in and help. That type of writing will win you more interviews.
As a side note, it’s okay to break some grammatical rules in your bullets. When writing an essay, you’d spell out the numbers “3” and “5” above, but it’s okay to type them as numbers in your work experience bullets. Numbers stand out visually and are another powerful way to get the reader to stop and pay attention, and to set your LinkedIn Experience section apart from everyone else’s.
Show me the beef and personalize your Experience section
Stick with only the accomplishments and chuck the mundane duties is what I advise my clients to do. This is how you nail the Experience section.
Many recruiters will skip the LinkedIn profile About section and leap to Experience. This is similar to how they treat your resume; they go directly to Experience because—quite honestly—the resume Summary is often filled with fluff, whereas the content in Experience is more factual.
Speaking of being factual, I see too many C-level job seekers make the assumption that their visitors know what they did/do at their positions. They simply list the company name, their title, and months/years of experience. By doing this, they’re robbing readers, namely recruiters, of valuable information.
Here’s how it should be done from one of my former client’s job summary:
“As the Director, Marketing Communications at ABC Compnay, I planned, developed and executed multi-channel marketing programs and performance-driven campaigns, using digital marketing principles and techniques to meet project and organization goals.”
Notice how he used first-person point of view? Use first person point of view for your accomplishments, as well. Take, for example, an accomplishment statement from a resume:
“Volunteered to training 5 office staff on new database software. All team members were more productive, increasing the team’s output by 75%.”
The same statement on the LinkedIn profile sounds more personal:
“I extended my training expertise by volunteering to train 5 office staff on our new database software. All members of the team were more productive as a result of my patient training style, increasing the team’s output by 75%.”
Recruiters are specific when they search for talent
Your LinkedIn profile certainly looks like a resume, doesn’t it? Both have Summary and Experience sections. But your LinkedIn profile is supposed to explain why someone might want to network with you. Industry, people in common, alma mater, and of course current or former employers.
These are all fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of your future network. Incidentally, if you are currently employed and interested in exploring alternative employment, you can tell the world, or just recruiters.
What LinkedIn means by the “just recruiters” is recruiters using their premium LinkedIn Recruiter service, which truthfully, the majority of recruiters do not use. LinkedIn protects your privacy by not telling the recruiters who work for your current employer that you are open to work
Note: LinkedIn only knows to protect you if your profile links to the correct company page.
Speaking of which..recruiters are occasionally tasked with finding talent that does not exist within the organization. When that happens, we might be seeking someone with prior experience in a given industry. The pharmaceutical industry specifically is well-known for this.
Keywords, keywords, keywords
There are several places where keywords are weighted more heavily than other parts of your profile. One area where they are weighted pretty heavily is in the Experience section. When recruiters like me look for talent, we aren’t just looking for [JOB TITLE]: that produces way too many results. You need to get more specific–a lot more specific.
Let’s say I am seeking a PMP-certified project manager with experience with data center migrations. I will almost certainly look for the term PMP as well as “data center” and migration. Why bother with the job title? With a PMP the title is redundant.
If I am seeking a full-stack developer that’s nowhere near enough: I need to be searching on all four elements of the specific tech stack.
So get specific with the entries in your LinkedIn profile Experience: talk about the value you added, the things you accomplished. You don’t need to–and really shouldn’t–go into full-scale STAR story detail, but at least give the reader a sense of the things you achieved, processes used, and relevant technologies if appropriate.
Skip the mundane duties and grab their attention with visuals
The Experience section on your LinkedIn profile, like your resume, is a blueprint of what you’ve done beginning with the most recent. As with your resume, you need company names, job titles, and dates.
*It can easily be one of the most boring areas of your profile.*
The difference is, your LinkedIn profile, unlike your resume, isn’t geared for just one specific job. It is a more general overview of what you’ve done.
You don’t have to add everything from your resume. You don’t need to include the more mundane parts of your job. Be strategic with your Experience section. Add what you enjoy the most about your role.
I am not a fan of adding every single task. I like to read/skim/read/skim through the profiles. If the experience section is content heavy, I lose interest. Use emoji bullets and arrows for visual appeal and to create focus areas within the role.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn’s algorithms are perusing through your profile targeting certain keywords. Make sure your experience section is keyword heavy.
It’s OK to add pronouns like “I, we, our, they” and, like the rest of your profile, should be written in a conversational and engaging first person tone.
A cool feature with the Experience section is you can add visuals—graphics, documents, videos, recommendation letters, PDFs, PowerPoints, and anything else that supports your role and experience at that job. So, you’re not only talking about it but you have visuals to back up your work.
Don’t ignore your Experience section! A well-written look into what you did at each role can mean the difference between gaining someone’s interest and not.
Make every word count
The hard part: writing. Let’s break it down.
In a few words, a title gives your profile visitors an idea of what you do, your expertise, and your career level. Business owners can get creative if they want, but job seekers should stick to the script. Use common or standard titles by, again, typing slowly and picking the default option. Your titles inform LinkedIn’s search function.
Don’t copy and paste from your resume. Job seekers, I’m talking to you. You don’t want to give everything away. Give your profile visitors a taste of your value, tease your expertise. Use your Experience to highlight key points only, and not the key points that matter to you, but the key points that matter to your target audience.
You have 2,000 characters in total and it is best to use strong, active verbs. Keep sentences short and punchy. Conquer your reader’s attention. If you’ve written ‘key responsibilities,’ you’re not on the right track. Some active words to get you thinking include drove, collaborated, initiated, aligned, negotiated, established, and secured.
Don’t make sweeping heroic statements, but don’t undersell your awesomeness, especially if you’re a job seeker. You really don’t want to come across apologetic, indecisive, or unsure of your skills.
Use visual elements like emojis and Yaytext.com to break up big chunks of text – but use them sparingly. Less is more. Also, keep in mind that emojis and Yaytext (or Lingojam) can’t be read by people using reading options or by LinkedIn’s search function. If you’re a job seeker, don’t put emojis in your titles.
And one last note, especially for job seekers: Don’t disclose dollar amounts or sensitive information if it’s confidential or not widely known.
Read Karen’s expanded article on the LinkedIn profile Experience section.
Avoid personal blanding by following these 6 tips
The [Experience] section of your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t be a chronological dump of everything you have ever done, including everything that wouldn’t fit on a two-page resume. Leaving the [Description] portion of your Work [Experience] is one of the worst forms of Personal Blanding possible.
🔘 Avoiding the ‘Responsible for’s and focus on a handful of bulleted, succinct accomplishments with proof metrics that solve business needs and moves you forward
🔘 Entering Title, Company, and Location slowly and accept the market value options in the dropdown box so that you ensure you are within LinkedIn dB Filters
🔘 Leaving the Employment type [-] blank or selecting anything less than [Full-time] will lower your profile rankings in search results
🔘 Unchecking the box [Update my headline] will keep you safe from accepting the Personal Blanding default [Title at Company] as you [Headline]
🔘 Adding Media by [Upload] or [Link] to external documents, photos, sites, videos, and presentations, is a Visual Reward in a sea of bland text (we process images 60K Faster than text)
🔘 Being aware of the [Share with network] toggle; [On] may share your updates, like a Press Release, with your network & [Off] makes your updates a little more noticeable
Don’t neglect your Experience section
Many users have neglected their LinkedIn Experience sections, filling in job titles and dates, but little else. If this sounds familiar, you’re wasting a HUGE opportunity to differentiate yourself and attract employer attention.
I recommend simple, yet powerful changes for your LinkedIn Experience section:
- Add a bold opening statement to each of your job entries. This should be a short summary of your successes (such as “22% Profit Increase From New Sales Methods” or “Digital Strategies Enabling COVID-19 Remote Work”). You can further entice the reader with symbols or emojis in this line.
- Describe what you enjoyed about this job, with a description of the projects, roles, and results you produced. These sentences don’t have to take up the entire 2,000 characters, but… (see the next point).
- Make sure this text is keyword-packed and RELEVANT. Looking for a job in sales? Boost the sales-related content for each job. If you hated the job and there is little tie-in to your career goal, tone down the jargon and conserve your words.
- Use plenty of white space to help readers navigate the great description and achievements you’ve written.
- Add media for more color in your Experience section, clicking where it says you can link to documents, photos, sites, videos, or presentations. Maybe your employer published that big project on their News page, or you spoke at a conference. Feature these wins prominently.
If you’re unsure what to add, just start with your best shot at these steps. LinkedIn content isn’t carved in stone; you can change it tomorrow.
Keep them hooked
Before you start taking the content from your resume and adding it directly into your Experience section. Step back, relax and recognize that the idea isn’t to cram it all in, you’re going to have to cherry pick the best of the best to portray the highlight your greatest hits.
One way to do this is to get past the “ ✅ check the box” notion that your EXPERIENCE section is your resume online, and limited to nouns vs.verbs.
Experience (n) practical contact with and observation of facts or events.
Experience (v) encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence).
Experience can be experiential. mitigating away from reporting facts, metrics and responsibilities that risk putting those interested in you (and awake from your rocking Headline and About section) back to sleep.
Keep them hooked with all eyes moving down your profile by:
- Choosing wisely which experiences to highlights and include ideally three to five tight ones making them easy to digest.
- Front load your biggest win within each role first, and with second biggest and so on.
- Mix up taking credit for what you’ve changed with what you’ve done.
- Embrace white space and formatting liberties with tasteful emojis and/or bullets.
- Include relevant attachments to make it easy for decision makers to find out more.
- Triple check your dates and explain any gaps unapologetically, sparing the TMI.
Celebrate all you’ve accomplished, encountered and undergone with memorable high notes to keep readers glued.
Think ABC when you write your Experience section
Although the About section may be first in a profile, there are a few reasons a recruiter or hiring manager will likely start with the Experience section when reading a profile.
First, hiring managers want to see if a candidate is qualified for the role before they take time to read an introduction like a cover letter or About section. Second, the Experience section titles are big, bold, and easy to skim – especially on mobile.
To maximize the LinkedIn Experience section to better connect with hiring managers, recruiters, potential customers, and beyond, follow the ABCs:
ATTRACT readers immediately with a strategic Title for each Experience entry. The Title field allows 100 characters – which most LinkedIn users seriously underutilize.
In addition to including an official title, add synonym titles recruiters might search and other targeted keywords. If there is space, consider adding a standout statement.
VP, Technology & Innovation ➡ Opened New Verticals & Grew Customer Businesses While Reviving $650M Operation
BEWITCH readers with a story that has an immediate hook. Make it clear right away that they are getting the same stories from the resume, with more detail, backstory, and intrigue.
This might be a challenge you faced at the company when you started, the details of your most relevant project.
Bringing disruptive technology to market isn’t easy. Businesses may not understand the value and want data that doesn’t exist before they’ll take a risk.
When I saw what the technical mastermind behind XYZ was doing, I knew it was valuable … and there was an opportunity for me to improve the value proposition so companies could see the value, too.
When you engage the reader in a story, it builds credibility and likeability while keeping their eyes on the profile longer.
CONVERT readers into connections or interviews by targeting stories – and especially the pains and challenges addressed – to align with the main concerns of the target audience.
When stories illustrate past experiences of delivering desired results, it creates an emotional connection – the feeling that they are understood and will get immediate value from taking the next step.
(Continued from Bewitch):
Together, we brought the first augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) content publishing solution (PaaS) to market.
My Role …
⤷ Creating the growth strategy with a competitive bid model to raise VC/private equity funds and scale market adoption.
⤷ Calling on my trusted relationships with business leaders to understand market need, improve positioning, and garner interest.
My Results …
➡ Secured proof of concept commitments from 5 Fortune 500 companies.
Putting time into writing an engaging LinkedIn Experience section will attract the reader, keep them reading the profile longer, and go beyond keywords to create an emotional connection that leads to action!
Have strong SEO and differentiate yourself from the rest
Of all the sections of your LinkedIn profile, the Experience area is the most important one for recruiters and hiring managers. When I was a recruiter, I went straight to the Experience section to get a sense of the type of roles and employers. If I found that information of interest, I then would look at other areas of the profile.
Yet, this section is a lost opportunity for many LinkedIn users. Why? People only put a title, employer, and dates of employment. Nothing else is there to explain the role or any accomplishments. Don’t be that person.
Two areas of focus should be Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and differentiating yourself from the competition.
People do searches based on specific criteria. Don’t you want your profile to show up high in the search results for those terms that showcase your expertise or interests? You need to have these search terms or keywords appear in your profile.
In the Experience section, you can add these terms both as part of your title or in the text. Here is a hint: Feel free to change your title from something uncommon, like Director of People Development to Director of Talent Management, if “Talent Management” is a common search term. Also, add important keywords to explain your responsibilities and accomplishments.
People want to see more than just a list of job duties in this section. Provide additional information about your job title or the work that you do/did. Don’t forget that you can also add media, so if you have work that you want to showcase, take advantage of the opportunity. Remember, always add information about how you have provided value to your employer. This will interest potential employers.
Think about the employers for whom you worked
LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters to describe each job in the Experience section. Done well, this section will increase your visibility inside LinkedIn, strengthening your personal brand and making your best keywords visible while highlighting your professional accomplishments and demonstrating your ability to communicate effectively.
Be sure to include your accomplishments that are relevant, and research appropriate job descriptions to identify the best keywords.
Going back as far as 15 years, describe each employer (keywords!) and each job (keywords!):
- As you type in the employer’s name, LinkedIn will offer you the names of employers who have LinkedIn Company pages. If available, choose the appropriate employer’s Company page inside LinkedIn, for your current and also your former employers.
The Company page link makes it easy for people to learn more about your employer to gain insight into your skills and experience. Many recruiters search through a company’s list of employees looking for potential job candidates.
- Briefly describe the employer as positively as possible, especially if not a well-known name or one which has disappeared. Describe the industry (keywords!), location (keywords!), and well-known products and services (keywords!).
- Provide your job title(s) for that employer (keywords!). If your employer uses a unique or non-descriptive job titles, become a “slash person” to make the job clear (and to include relevant and appropriate keywords).
For example, if your employer uses “Admin Wizard” as the job title for admin assistant jobs, become an “Admin Wizard/Admin Assistant” in LinkedIn.
- If you worked remotely in a job, include that term plus the remote tools you used (keywords!)
- If you had more than one job with the employer, describe each job separately, focused on the accomplishments relevant to your personal brand and future (keywords!).
Obviously, the Experience section offers members a wonderful opportunity to include appropriate keywords, making your profile more visible in LinkedIn and highlighting your relevant experience.
How recruiters read your Experience section
The experience section is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. You can have the best Headline, About and Education sections, and recommendation; but if a recruiter or hiring manager can’t tell what you have done as work experience there is no point.
As a recruiter, here is what I look for:
1. Your work history, company name, dates, title.
2. Beyond it being chronological, you need to write down what you do and what you have accomplished. This is the perfect place to utilize “I” statements. It can be in whatever format you want. Paragraph or bullets but make sure to list it.
a. Pro-tip: If you want to make it easier for the reader, I’d suggest starting with a summary under each company as a paragraph and then add your accomplishments and duties as bullets.
3. If you have any publications or media links, you should absolutely list it here as it relates to specific jobs. Especially for creative people, your work specific examples on your portfolio will go here.
Whether you are looking for a job or not, your experience section should always be updated because you never know which recruiter or employer might look at it and reach out to you with a potential role that might be your dream job.
If you’ve held multiple jobs at the same organization and/or been promoted, you should update your LinkedIn accordingly to highlight that. LinkedIn has a great feature where they update your profile with the same company but highlight the different positions you’ve held.
Pay attention to job titles and think before describing current projects
When writing your LinkedIn Experience section, I advise job seekers to pay careful attention to:
The platform’s algorithm weighs the keywords it finds here. LinkedIn gives you 100 characters to play with – I say take advantage of them!
If you are targeting a role in Medical Device Sales but your job title is “Account Executive,” consider expanding upon your title by using this as your job title to capitalize on keyword searchability:
Account Executive | Cardiology Medical Device Sales
If currently employed, I don’t recommend sharing info about how you turned a team around or fixed a hot mess within your organization – as this can paint your current company (and your manager!) in a negative light.
It’s important to remember that you might still need to attract and maintain relationships with customers/vendors, etc. Your best bet at not burning bridges while job searching is to include some info about the company’s products/services/mission. In addition, include a paragraph about what you’ve been brought on to do.
Not every company is comfortable sharing revenue or market share figures – particularly if the company is private. If this is your situation, it’s OK to share your accomplishments, but take care not to share exact figures.
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