I’ve been a proponent for a long time of writing some of the text on job-search documents (resume and LinkedIn profile) in bold. I stress some of your text, not all of it.Because to bold all the text would diminish the impact of your sentences. It would be like having too much frosting on a cake.
I’m not alone in my preference for bold text. A poll I recently conducted says that 63% of voters favor using bold text on their resume. This poll garnered 4,564 votes, so we could say this is a valid case study. Some of the comments are listed below.
To be clear, I’m not talking about just the documents headings or your titles. I’m talking about select text to which you want to draw the reader’s attention. Text you want their eyes to settle on like:
𝗦𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘆 $𝟭𝟬𝟬,𝟬𝟬𝟬 over the course of 2 years by bringing social media campaign in house; revamped the campaign while 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗼𝗻 𝗮 𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘂𝗱𝗴𝗲𝘁.
This is important for one obvious reason. It’s said that hiring authorities take six to 10 seconds to glance at your resume after it has been stored and accessed from the applicant tracking system.
This will help hiring authorities to capture important text on your resume within the six to 10 seconds and decide whether it goes in the “must read pile” or the “don’t read pile.”
When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, bold text also draws readers’ attention to important points you want to make. I use bold text in my Headline and About section.
Example: 👊 I’m on the front-line fighting 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 for job seekers. For a little emphasis, I use the fist emoji; something you wouldn’t do on your resume. If you’re wondering how to employ bold text on your LinkedIn profile, here’s a site I use: https://lingojam.com/BoldTextGenerator.
The naysayers to bold text on their resume and LinkedIn profile think it’s nontraditional, just like using sans-serif font in nontraditional. Here’s some news for those people; if you’re using Times New Roman, you’re dating yourself. Perhaps there will be a time when not using bold text will be nontraditional.
Let’s read what others feel about using bold text.
Kevin D. Turner: If 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱 is used, IMO it must be sparingly, perhaps to highlight a few of the really big achievements, Bob, otherwise it can get a bit messy and if almost everything is 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱, there is then no emphasis.
Tejal Wagadia (She/Her): I don’t particularly like bolding. It takes my eyes away from what I am looking for. If I have downloaded resume that has bolding I will remove that formatting.
I have seen it done well a few times but most of the times it’s random bolding with no rhyme or reason!
Bernadette Pawlik: If a client who comes to me as a #CareerSTrategist wants to know how to use bolding, my advice is based upon 25 years of evaluating resumes as a career recruiter. Having evaluated thousands of resumes, what makes it resume instantly easier to consider first is being able to find what I needed: Name, Experience, Education. Bold those in all caps.
Then, after that I look for chronology, so employers, bold those but not in all caps. Then, I read the rest. I see resumes that are bolded in mid-sentence to accentuate an accomplishment.
Accomplishments should go in bullet points. Donna Svei, Executive Resume Writer who also has extensive recruiting experience has some great samples of resumes on her website which show how to use bolding, color, and italics…and I’ve spoken to Donna and we have no affiliate relationship..but her resumes make finding what recruiters/employers need to find wonderfully clear.
Erica Reckamp:Strategic bold, bullets, and shading allow key elements to pop off the page for stronger reader response and retention.
Stand out as a top candidate by highlighting your headline (demonstrate clear target and alignment), keyword bank and job titles (establish candidacy), and key phrases in accomplishments (preferably results: # s, $s, %s).
LAURA SMITH-PROULX:Bold text in a resume works very well, but only IF you limit it to notable career stories and IF you avoid drawing attention to items you’d rather not emphasize.
I see resumes all the time that apply bold text to “unfortunate” facts in a work history, such as dates that make you look like a job hopper. Go ahead and apply bold, but think carefully about the message you’re sending when doing so.
Sarah Johnston:The goal of the resume is to make it easy for the end user to consume your story. Design elements such as bolding, shading, and call out boxes (used sparingly) make the resume easier to read. Resume writers are also trained to use design to “trick the eyes” to read what we want the target audience to read.
Ed Han (He/Him): Absolutely yes on my own and I counsel the same to draw emphasis to proper nouns, names, brands, technologies (in IT), or anything else salient.
I also use them to call out hyperlinks, which I use incessantly for schools, former employers, trade associations, certifying bodies, etc.
The vast majority of resume reading takes place on a screen: optimize for this reality.
Adrienne Tom: Bolded text can help key content pop off the page. The important thing to remember is to only highlight top/best/relevant information and details. Be strategic with what you bold in a resume. Too much bolded text will cause key points to blend together again.
Angela Watts: As a screener, I’m drawn to read bolded text, even when doing an initial skim. If used well, it can encourage a reader to digest compelling content they may otherwise have missed.
Donna Svei:Bold narrative text jerks the reader’s attention around the resume in a graceless fashion, says “this is the only information in this document that matters,” and begs the reader to look at it. Thus, it signals desperation and lack of confidence in your story and story telling ability.
Story telling is a key leadership skill. If you want a leadership role, don’t use this awkward device on your resume.
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There’s no debate when it comes to which document hiring authorities turn to first when evaluating you on “paper.” The resume wins this debate. For the time being. But with 78% or more recruiters looking for talent on LinkedIn, the profile comes in at a strong runner up.
Like the resume, hiring authorities (recruiters, hiring managers, and HR) want to see accomplishments on your profile. Additionally, if you don’t have a LinkedIn presence, you might not be considered for the role.
One stat claims that nearly 40% of employers won’t consider a candidate if they aren’t on LinkedIn.
You’ll notice that your profile sections are arranged similarly to your resume sections. This is because recruiters prefer to read your profile in the same order they read a resume. Still, your LinkedIn profile is different; it’s more dynamic than your resume. This is not lost on hiring authorities.
Following are 10 reason why hiring authorities dread reading your profile
1. They can’t find you
This is the most obvious reason why hiring authorities dread reading your LinkedIn profile. After reading your resume, they can’t find you on LinkedIn. You are lost in a sea of other job seekers. The most likely reason, you don’t have the keywords by which hiring authorities are searching to fill a role.
Many hiring authorities use the Search field to find talent because they don’t have access to LinkedIn Recruiter, which allows them to search for possible job candidates based on skills and other criteria. Without the expensive Recruiter package, they are left with entering your title and areas of expertise in Search.
2. It’s your resume
This is my number one gripe when it comes to LinkedIn profiles, and I’m sure hiring authorities feel the same. I’m 100% on the mark when I see a profile that is a copy and paste of a client’s resume. The give away is that there’s no subject in the sentences, e.g., “I,” “My,” “We,” etc.
It’s fine when you’re crafting your profile to copy your resume to your new profile, but from there you need to take it further and personalize it. A personalized resume, if you will. Hiring authorities want to see something different from your resume. After all, your resume most likely led them to you.
Erica Reckamp says it nicely: Oh, the drudgery of reading something you already read. Mix it up! the phrasing should be completely different. Shift to a friendly voice and convert those accs from months to years or $ to %s to keep it fresh!
3. Your photo is of poor quality
I know some of you are concerned about ageism and are hesitant to post your photo on your profile for fear that you’ll be passed on. Here’s the thing: if you are passed on by a hiring authority, you’ll never be the wiser. Whereas, if you are contacted by them, this means your age is not an issue.
Therefore, your photo is a must. Without one you are not memorable, trusted, or liked. What’s important is that your profile photo is of high quality and recent. Have someone who has a good camera—today’s phone cameras will suffice—take your photo.
Hint: Don’t post a photo with you and other people in it. Also, don’t use a selfie.
4. Your Headline is your job title and company
I wrote an article on writing a powerful Headline in which 15 LinkedIn pros participated. To a person, they all agree that simply leaving only your title and company name in your Headline is bad taste. The only thing worse than just listing your title and company is writing, “Seeking next opportunity,” or “Open to next opportunity.”
Hint: Hiring authorities aren’t typing in Search: “seeking next opportunity.”
You should include in your Headline a desired title, areas of expertise, and if you like a tagline. The idea is to demonstrate value that you’ll deliver to an employer. Listing only your title and company does not accomplish this.
However, don’t confuse creativity with clarity. Calling yourself “Chief People Person” isn’t as clear as “Human Resources Specialist, Employee Relations, DEI” which is what hiring authorities will be searching for.
Another hint: If you were unfortunate to be named that by your company, make sure you have a common title in your headline.
5. You’re hiding your email address
This might not be your fault if you’re unaware that the default setting in your Contact Info is that only 1st degrees. But if you know you can change it to “Anyone on LinkedIn” but don’t, shame on you.
You must have your email available for hiring authorities to reach you. They won’t take the time to search for you by other means if they have to fill a position, trust me. You should also have your email listed in your About section. Read this article for more ways to be visible to hiring authorities.
6. There’s no bling in Featured
The Featured area is improved from days of old; it’s now a one-click process for links to websites, YouTube, documents, PowerPoint presentations, and audio. Before it was clunkier. Take advantage of your online portfolio.
Leaving this section barren fails to demonstrate the work you’ve accomplished. Display what’s most important to hiring authorities. If you’re a Business Developer, present a document on your biggest project to date. Have you been featured on a podcast as a Sales Leader? Lead with the podcast in which you were interviewed.
7. Your About section doesn’t tell your story
Hiring authorities don’t want a tomb describing the passion you developed for landscape architecture as a young child, but they want to see what drives you in your occupation, why you enjoy your trade.
Don’t forget to list some accomplishments in bullet format so their easier to read. Here’s an opportunity to show the value you’ll deliver to potential employers. For example:
Improved supply chain operation 90% over the course of 2 years by implementing Lean Six Sigma methodology, earning accolades the CEO.
As a recruiter, when I am finding talent via LinkedIn profiles, I conduct a search based on keywords. Keywords can appear anywhere in a LinkedIn profile, but it’s easiest and most natural for them to appear in either the member’s 220 character headline or the 3,000 character About section.
8. You don’t emphasize your accomplishments in Experience
Hiring authorities dread reading an Experience section that precludes a clear idea of what you did at your past positions. I get this. All to often I see job entries with the company name, title, and tenure at said position. That’s it. Tejal Wagadia writes in an article on how to write a powerful 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.
This is an area on your resume where you can’t be shy with the accomplishment statements. As I tell my clients, “Hit them over the head with the accomplishment. Ideally the job summary explains your overall responsibilities and the bullet statements are all accomplishments.
Here’s an example of a job summary followed by a bulleted accomplishment:
As the Director, Marketing Communications at ABC Company, 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.
Grew marketing department to achieve an average of 34% growth two years running by developing and nurturing a digital marketing campaign from inception.
9. You don’t utilize description in Education
Oh what a waste. I see too many LinkedIn users who don’t utilize the space in their Education section. This area is an ideal place to talk about what you did while at university of high school. Did you start a Outward Bound club? Were you the editor of the school newspaper? Did work full time while earning a degree?
Hiring authorities don’t want to see what’s on your resume: Degree, Institution, Location, Year of Graduation (please don’t list the date you graduated.) Again, they probably saw this on your resume or will. Throw in some narrative to make your profile more exciting.
10. You leave your Volunteer section blank
Rarely do people list their volunteer experience on their resume. There’s usually no room and it’s not considered vital information. But if you think about your volunteer work, you either gave of your time to help a community of organization or to enhance your skills.
Both are great reasons to list your volunteer work. I tell my clients that employers love to know that you were/are a giver. Consider this scenario: you read before an interview that the hiring manager volunteers at the local soup kitchen. You also volunteer at your soup kitchen. If you can work this into the conversation during the interview, you’re golden.
One more, your Activities section is a wasteland
You have not shared a post, commented on what others have written, shared an article and written a synopsis. Essentially you joined LinkedIn to create a profile and connect with as many people as you could, which wasn’t many. “I’m not serious about being on LinkedIn,” is what you’re telling hiring authorities.
What others have to say on this topic
Wendy Schoen: Every recruiter and/or hiring manager reads your resume. That is still the name of the game. But increasingly, they want to turn to the LinkedIn profile in the hopes that it will shed more light into who and what the person behind the resume really is. But at the moment, they dread doing that because what they find is a bare, unattended profile.
Bernadette Pawlik:Some things people don’t like to think about they should, and this is going to sound very blunt–we are always in transition. We may not be fired or downsized, but we might outgrow our jobs, our wonderful boss might leave, our spouse moves the whole family to a new state. There is “job search” and there is “career management”..we all want to put the “job search” behind us…but if we are active career managers we are taking control of our careers, instead of letting life happen to us and derailing them.
Karen Tisdell: I have a story for you. I ran two LinkedIn webinars early 2020. Of all the people who attended one of them saw the massive potential I was advocating for to build relationships with partnering businesses and clients and became an avid user, hugely growing her network with the right people and producing 1-2 pieces of meaningful content a week consistently. (Many others did the same but tapered off after a month or so.) Fast forward nine months and the business sadly wasn’t doing well because of covid, supply issues and market sentiment. Many people were made redundant. The LinkedIn superuser was explicitly told her job was safe because her network and links with industry had become a valuable asset to the company.
We’d like to think people are employed and retained for their skills, but a closer look at many job adverts will reveal that it’s the relationships we bring to the organisation, and the relationships we have internally that can make a huge difference. In an environment where, here in Australia, travel is restricted and there are few face-to-face meetings, LinkedIn is an amazing tool to find and deepen relationships!
Hannah Morgan: I’ve known people who use LinkedIn to learn! – Courses (learning and networking) – Asking for recommendations for new software or service providers – Problem solving (asking for help solving a problem) – Giving a shout-out or congrats to people in your network – Meet people in your profession There is some overlap with what you’ve listed but wanted to be more specific. Great reasons to make LinkedIn a lifetime career habit!
This article is based on a poll I conducted yesterday. Some of the excellent comments are at the end of the article.
Many of my clients don’t give enough thought to helping hiring authorities find them on LinkedIn. What I mean by this is that they don’t list their contact info on their profile. Essentially, they’re hiding from the very people who could be instrumental in them landing a job.
Perhaps the word “hiding” is too strong. Hiring authorities (recruiters, hiring managers, HR) could use Inmail to contact them through LinkedIn, but that takes additional time. Further, some candidates don’t check their LinkedIn account on a regular basis.
If you’re in the hunt for employment, at the very least list your email address on your profile. Even better would be to include your phone number, as it would speed up the process. List your cell, not your landline. This is because hiring authorities frequently text job candidates.
The bottom line is that hiring authorities don’t have time to look around for your contact information.
Picture this: a recruiter needs to fill a software engineer position and she comes across your profile. You’re a slam dunk, but she can’t find any contact info. No email address. No phone number. Nothing. She’s on to the next candidate.
Reasons why job seekers don’t list their contact info
Here are some reasons my clients have given me for not including their contact information on their profile.
It never occurred to them
I understand LinkedIn is new to you. You’re trying to craft the best profile you can. Every ounce of your energy has gone into writing the content of your profile. But you didn’t considered how important it is to let hiring authorities find you easily. Now you know.
They don’t want spam
One of my clients told me he’s tired of getting emails for insurance sales positions. To this, I told him I felt sorry that he was receiving unwanted emails. I followed by telling him it was better than not getting any emails at all. It only takes the right contact.
Further, I told him that if he doesn’t want emails for sales position, remove any hint of sales he has on his profile. Hiring authorities looking for candidates for insurance sales positions will search for “sales” when doing their search. My client saw it my way.
They don’t know where and how to list your contact info
In my LinkedIn Unleashed webinar, the majority of my attendees don’t know where and how they should list their contact info. This leads me to the next part of this article.
Where to list your contact info on your profile
The answer to where you list your contact info is anywhere you can. There are four obvious places to list your contact info in order of least to most important.
You may be wondering where you could insert your contact info in the Experience section of your profile. One obvious reason for doing this is if you have a side hustle while your looking for work—or even while you’re working—and you want people to contact you.
Serious entrepreneurs will also include their telephone number. If you’re not squeamish about receiving phone calls from strangers at all times of the day, include your phone number. However, I respect people who want to communicate by email alone.
This is my third choice of where to list your contact info, because I prefer to see people sell themselves with keywords or a sharp branding statement. Remember that you only have 220 characters with which to work. However, this will certainly grab the attention of a recruiter.
2. Contact Info section
You might think this would be the best place to list your contact info, but I’ve found that few people even know about this gem of a place to list their contact and other info. It goes to reason that some hiring authorities don’t know about it, as well.
Below is where your Contact info resides on your profile.
LinkedIn provides fields for your phone number and email address. Smart job seekers will fill in both. It also provides a field for your address. Take this to mean an additional email address, not your home address.
Bellow is my expanded Contact Info. You should fill out the boxed-out fields.
Note: You can show your email address to 1) Only visible to me, 2) 1st degree connections, 3) 1st and 2nd degree connections, and 4) everyone on LinkedIn (highly suggested). You set this up in Settings and Privacy under Who can see your email address.
This is the the best place to list your contact info. My connection, Sarah Johnston—a former recruiter and now a successful job coach—advises job seekers to include their contact info in the About of their profile. She also says job seekers should include their telephone number.
To make the ultimate impact, list your info on the first line of your About. Keep in mind that LinkedIn only shows the first three lines of this section. When placed there, your contact info won’t go missed.
A former client of mine and now a salesperson, follows this rule of thought with her About. She really wants to be found and writes:
To reach me: (email address) and (phone numbers). As a lifelongathlete I have learned to be competitive within myself. This is the reason I have succeeded in my sales career. Like my fitness training I persist and never give up. Relentless and persistent until I land the sale.
What other LinkedIn authorities have to say about listing your email address on your profile (in order of commenting)
Wendy Schoen: As a recruiter I find it very difficult to reach candidates sometimes. You MUST have either a personal email or cell phone number in your contact information at all times.
AND this is not just for #jobsearch. EVEN for #businessdevelopment purposes, you need to do this. REMEMBER, people use TEXT messaging ALL the time and you need to know someone’s personal phone number to do that!!!
HOWEVER< I do not think that your email address belongs in your headline. You have too much other information that you want to include there. Of course, I am not one to talk as my contact information is in my banner!
Angela Watts: I must concur with Ed Han and Erica Reckamp about spam concerns. Those stinkers find my contact details even though I only list them in my Contact Info section.
As a recruiter, I tend to reach out to candidates via LinkedIn messages first (if I’ve found them on the platform). I’ve found that my emails often land in spam/junk mail so it tends to be safer to go through messaging. Once we’ve connected and I’m continuing the conversation, however, I do search for their email address on their LI profile. I’ve also looked for this info here when reaching out to colleagues.
Kevin D. Turner: I’m all in on 1, 2, & 4 Bob plus in my Custom [Background photo]. To keep my contact out of the hands of automation scrappers I parse my email as Kevin @ TNTBrandStregist.com (allows a person to copy it, paste it, and remove the spaces) and I set my phone number uniquely as +1-214-724-9111 (which is a math equation not a phone number formatting).
A data scrapping SPAMBot will not see either email or phone number, nor collect it for SPAMMING purposes, and yet a person visiting my profile knows immediately how to get in touch with me. Of course in a graphic you don’t have to takes these precautions because an image is not scrapable anyway.
Loren Greiff concurs, the price for characters in the headlines is too precious to give up for me BUT have contact area covered, business page and added call to action with email in the FEATURED SECTION!! This could be some fertile ground!
Sonal Bahl states that [Experience] and [Headline] are a bit much, especially the Headline, as it’s precious real estate. About and Contact, for sure. ALSO: the setting should be on which allows ANYONE to see your email address, not just first degree connections.
Ed Han:Technically, you could also include it in posts and articles, making it possible for the highly-motivated/very lucky. This is something that I have done when posting about a position for which I am hiring.
I realize that I erred in my response: I do have mine in the Contact Info. But I don’t make it visible in the other profile elements, as I get quite enough email and there’s a lot of web scraping off LinkedIn.
Adrienne Tom It’s amazing how many profiles I visit that don’t have contact info listed anywhere! Perhaps people are wary of spam?
I see a profile as just a starting point. You want to encourage engagement and follow-up — keeping conversations and opportunities moving forward. Inmails may be limited for some, so email is a great alternative.
Susan P. Joyce: This is SO important! The email address MUST be public (About). My advice: set up and use a permanent NON-WORK email address, your “professional email address.”
Make the address one that will work for you regardless of who you work for, where you live, OR who provides your home internet service:
🔹 Buy your own name as a domain name (annual fee), and then set up the email account using that domain name. Most of the domain registrars, like GoDaddy, provide email service for a low monthly fee. You do not need to build a website, but you can build one if you want to, someday.
🔹 If you attended a college (often, even if you didn’t graduate), the school probably offers an email service like email@example.com. This can be great personal marketing, too.
🔹 Set up a Gmail account (NOT Yahoo or AOL).
❌ DO NOT ADD YOUR BIRTH YEAR TO YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS! ❌ If you must add a number, use your area code or other number that doesn’t look like your birth year.
You can usually forward all messages from the above email accounts to your personal (not work!) email account. Remember, your employer will not be thrilled to learn that a recruiter has emailed you. Respond from the professional account or the message might not be seen or read.
Karen Tisdell: I think it insane that people don’t list their contact details, hugely missed opportunity because in a time-poor world we want, and are accustomed to, immediacy. To not have contact details in a few places to put up a massive barrier because we are all so distractable. It is like having lots of products on display in your shop window, but no online purchase facility. We may want to do business with you, but not want to connect or book in for a chat via Calendly… An email address opens opportunities!
Brad W. Minton: I think it boils down to context. If I’m a job seeker, I’m putting it everywhere because I don’t want to miss a chance to be contacted. I think for recruiters or coaches the contact or about sections are adequate simply because they do run into the spam issue more often!
Loribeth Pierson: I would say no to the headline Bob McIntosh. I know a lot of people miss out on opportunities when they omit the email address. If you’re looking for a job, make it easy to reach you. You can even get a free google number and list that instead of your personal cell number.
Shelley Piedmont: I have it in #4, #2, and #1. The headline seems a bit much for me, but I can see how it makes people so easy to contact. I once was on a webinar where the topic was how to source candidates. Many recruiters do not have the paid sourcing products offered by LinkedIn. For them, having your contact information easily accessible on your profile is invaluable.
Virginia Franco: I’m all about one-stop shopping — which means making it as easy as possible for a decision-maker to get in touch with you when they visit your profile.
If someone owns their own business, I’ll include the info in About, Experience and Contact section. If they work for a company, usually just the About and Contact section. I’ve hesitated with including in the headline because I want to maximize keyword searchability.
Laura Smith-Proulx: I’m so glad you brought this up, Bob. It’s amazing to see people who would otherwise welcome a new connection or job inquiry – but who never list ANY contact information on their Profiles. I insert email addresses into my clients’ LinkedIn Profiles and recommend adding it in the Contact section. Why not make it easier for a recruiter to reach out or stay in touch?
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This is the final article of a three-part series that looks at the most important sections of the LinkedIn profile, the About, Experienced, and now the Headline. It’s debatable as to which is the most important of the three profile sections, but according to a poll taken on LinkedIn, the Headline is the most important.
Now that you know the Headline is (theoretically) the most important section, you’re probably wondering how you can write a LinkedIn profile Headline that makes people take a second look and want to read the rest of your profile. Fifteen (15) LinkedIn pros go into detail on how to accomplish this.
One important element of a strong Headline is search optimization (SEO). One of the 15 pros goes into detail on how to optimize your Headline.
A common theme among the pros is not settling on your title as the Headline. Why should you? You’re more than what you do and where you work.
There’s the Good, Better, and Best kinds of Headline sections. Read how you can accomplish the “Best.”
Use emojis in your Headline? Heck yes; they add color and make it stand out.
And of course one of our pros comes up with an acronym. Find out what it is and what it stands for.
But don’t take my word for it. Read what all the pros have to say about writing a powerful Headline.
Your LinkedIn professional Headline defines and brands you across the Internet. You are much more than a job title at your employer, the default.
FACT: The words you use in your Headline greatly impact your visibility when someone searches both LinkedIn and Google.
Know your most important keywords, and use those terms in your professional Headline:
Your job title is usually a very important keyword term. If your job title isn’t commonly used, add the more frequently used term (in the Experience section, too). So, a marketing manager who has the “Marketing Warrior” job title should include both terms in the Headline.
Add key terms that are important to people who might hire you or want to connect with you. Everyone who wants to work from home should terms like “Experienced Remote Worker” to their Headline, as appropriate. For example, an admin assistant working from home could use “Admin Assistant/Virtual Assistant.”
Include your most important skills and/or accomplishments. Check the job descriptions of the job you want next (with your target employers) and the profiles of your most successful competitors to see which terms are the most important.
Make the most important terms visible in the beginning of your Headline to have the best SEO impact.
Three key tips to remember about your Headline when someone is searching LinkedIn (not using LinkedIn Recruiter):
Focus on keywords that will bring you the professional attention you want.
Make the most important keywords visible near the beginning of your Headline.
The keywords in shorter Headlines seem to rank higher in searches than those with the keywords near the end, so choose the words and the length of your Headline carefully for the most powerful SEO.
Do not make your Headline a list of keywords. Humans must find it interesting and appealing too.
As many people probably know, the character limit for the Headline is 220.
I am personally a fan of making every (key)word count because your Headline is prime real estate. The words that you select for your profile should be exact words that a recruiter would use to search for someone with your skill set.
When crafting LinkedIn Headlines for clients, I typically follow one of these formulas:
Formula: Role | Specific Industry Achievement | Fun Fact Example: Senior Healthcare Executive | President & Chief Executive Officer | Turnaround and Multi-site Specialist | Becker’s Healthcare CEO of the Year
Formula: Role | Industry/Expertise | Unique Value Example: Chief Investment Officer | CIO | Legal Executive | Focused on strategic asset management of a $25B portfolio
Formula: Role | Helping [type of company] do [result] | keyword 2 | keyword 3 Example: Chief Marketing Officer | I increase revenue and product awareness through innovative brand and digital strategies | Retail and CPG
<Job Title> at <Employer>. That is what most people have as their Headline because LinkedIn makes it the default. But aren’t you more than a title? I hope so. Do you want your “personal brand” to be connected with one employer? Probably not. So, make sure you customize your Headline.
LinkedIn gives you 220 characters to tailor this most visible aspect of your profile to tell the reader about you. Think of all the places where your Headline is seen.
When you comment on a post
When you post content
In search results
In the People You May Know section
When you apply for a job on LinkedIn
That is a lot of places. Why should a person click on your profile or look at your content? Because you have hooked them in by having a compelling Headline.
So how do you get a reader’s attention? Tell the reader what they need to know about you. Interest the reader in you.
Tell them about your skill sets
Tell them your areas of expertise
Tell them what you have and can accomplish
Tell them how you help your target audience
Lastly, do not forget about keywords. Keywords will get the attention of your audience and help you come up in search results. To do this, make sure your Headline and other parts of your LinkedIn profile have the appropriate keywords that will be searched for by your intended audience.
If you are an Accountant whose practice focuses on tax issues, you should have “tax” somewhere in your Headline. If you are a Software Developer and have sought after programming languages, add them to your Headline.
Your Headline is often the first impression that people will have of you on LinkedIn. You can do better than just have it be a title and an employer.
You are not a default candidate, so don’t leave your LinkedIn profile Headline in the default setting, which is “Your Name at Current Employer.” This is the fastest way to blend into a page of search results. Instead, make yourself stand out by customizing your LinkedIn Headline. Not doing so is a missed opportunity to make a strong first impression
Forgoing customization means your Headline might currently read something like, “Sports Marketing Manager at Elevate Marketing.” This Headline barely makes a dent in the ~220-character allowance and fails to tell employers anything interesting and/or attractive about you to encourage them to engage.
I guide clients to include 3 key elements in their Headline to the extent it’s possible:
Here’s an example:
Sports Marketing Manager curating creative touchpoints that inspire fans | Former Pr🏀 Athlete | Drove 30% revenue growth | Strategy | Digital Marketing | Business Development | Sponsorship | Experiential Events
This example is 210 characters long. When employers/recruiters are scrolling through search results for “Sports Marketing Manager,” the default Headline will not stand out, but this one will because it offers effective, attention-grabbing information.
This one also happens to feature an emoji, which can be helpful when used creatively. Your LinkedIn Headline is called a “Headline” for a reason. Just like a newspaper’s front page, make sure your headline sparks people to pick up this edition featuring your story.
“You are only as good as the good you do for others.”~Unknown
There’s Good, Better, and Best. Make your Headline “Best”
A powerful branding element that describes who you are, what you deliver, and what you’re most proud of in your career, your Headline can entice other LinkedIn users to read further. Even better, it will attract traffic if you’ve added keywords that emphasize your most important skills.
Here are 5 steps to crafting the optimum Headline:
Start with your career level or goal (SVP of Sales, Global Operations Executive, Contract Administrator, CIO, etc.). You can use more than one job title, but be sure it matches the positions you’d like to have.
Next, add keywords matching what you WANT to do. In my case, Leadership Careers, Resume Writer, and Branding all help convey what I do for my target audience. Keywords should resemble your ideal job description. Important note: remove skills you’d rather not use in your next job. (I’m a former IT consultant, but you won’t find SQL or application development in my Headline.)
Third, fold in a top career achievement. Maybe you’ve reached the #1 regional ranking in your industry, led digital transformations, or earned promotions at Fortune 500 companies. “Digital Payment Solutions Enabling 43% More Online Transactions” or “New Efficiencies From Robotics Process Automation” convey wins (and even include keywords).
Then expand your Headline to use as many of your 220 available characters as possible. Longer Headlines have a better shot at incorporating a clear value proposition and the keywords integral to your findability as a candidate.
Last of all, consider incorporating some bling with symbols in your Headline. A quick search on “symbols for LinkedIn Headlines” will return an array of interesting bullets you can use to separate key fields.
Set yourself a part from others, don’t commit #personalblanding
Personal Blanding is the intentional or inadvertent act of demarketing or making oneself appear generic. Accepting any defaults on LinkedIn, especially the [Headline] of [Title] at [Company], are the most blatant forms of Personal Blanding. Personal Blanding won’t get you noticed while Personal Branding will!
Think of your [Headline] like a branding handshake. The up-to-240 spaces is like the time it takes to comfortably shake hands, introduce yourself, and maybe the deciding factor in your future.
Imagine you are on a two-story elevator with nine other people, just like you, going to an interview for the same opportunity. Right before the doors close, the CEO steps in. This decision-maker turns and says hello, introduces themself, and shakes each person’s hand, expecting the same.
This is not the time to falter, drone on, or try to regurgitate your resume. What can you say during this brief handshake time-frame that will set you apart from everyone else on that elevator? What can you say that is short, succinct, and will get you remembered?
LinkedIn is highly visual, and it’s becoming harder and harder to cut through the noise. If you want your LinkedIn profile Headline to capture attention you’ll need to do something many people still aren’t – use emojis.
You heard right. Emojis are a powerful tool on LinkedIn. They make your Headline more visually memorable and can help you appear more friendly and approachable.
But don’t think that Emojis are all about conveying emotion, either. An emoji can be a bold shape, a conservative black dot, a brightly coloured symbol that stands out amongst the text and ensures your headline actually gets read.
Adding emojis to your LinkedIn profile and content is as easy as copying and pasting. Depending on your operating platform, there are various keyboard shortcuts you can use and emojipaedia.org will also enable you to find the right emoji or symbol that suits your brand message.
The challenge being that often we don’t know what we want, until we see it…
My article HERE captures a wide spectrum of LinkedIn-friendly emojis, moving far beyond a smiley emoji.
You know how sometimes you hear something and it gets stuck in your head. Like maybe the overture to Raiders of the Lost Ark? That’s pretty catchy: I don’t know anyone who couldn’t recognize it if they heard the first few notes.
Back on August 31, 1997, Fast Company published an article by management consultant Tom Peters titled The Brand Called You. This article struck like a thunderbolt when published and remains just as powerful and relevant today, almost 24 years later. As Peters wrote:
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
Today we call it personal branding, a fairly common concept in career circles now but on the cusp of Q4 1997, it was revolutionary.
The 220 characters of your LinkedIn profile Headline are a stunning billboard to display your personal brand because everyplace your name goes on the platform, so go your profile photo and Headline. Everywhere, including search results.
And the best personal brands articulate a unique value proposition: what is it that someone brings to the table that they alone offer?
Unfortunately, when you create a LinkedIn profile, or when add a new job to your profile, LinkedIn “helpfully” suggests updating your Headline to match defaulting to [JOB TITLE] at [EMPLOYER].
Now imagine someone searching for what you do for a living. In the search results, they see literally hundreds or even thousands of search results, filled with firstname lastname [JOB TITLE] at [EMPLOYER].
You have become invisible. My friend and fellow contributor Kevin D. Turner refers to this as personal blanding for good reason. There is a vast ocean of undifferentiated sameness in LinkedIn search results.
Stand out! The purpose of any branding statement is to make someone want to know more. That’s why it is essential that your Headline articulates your unique value proposition.
Give the reader a reason to want to know more. What motivates you to do what you do? Which of your traits would managers, reports, and colleagues consistently say were your top ones? And remember: it’s not bragging if it’s true.
You are more—far more—than the position you currently or last did. No job title can possibly contain the whole of what you bring to the table. So why constrain yourself?
You want to interest people. Craft your Headline accordingly. And when you do, front-load your highest impact content in the first 80ish characters, as over 50% of all LinkedIn traffic is via the app rather than desktop, and Headlines get truncated on the app.
I tell my clients that their Headline can be the foundation of their About section and, for that matter, their Experience section. To stand by my word, I do this with my LinkedIn profile. This is how I started my profile, and this is how it stands now.
It makes sense if you think about it. If you want to brand yourself throughout your LinkedIn profile, you must be consistent. Every section of your profile should brand you, but there are no more obvious sections than your Headline and About.
There are a plethora of Headline and About section styles. Neither are better than the others; it’s a matter of preference, just as long as they fit your personal brand and deliver a strong message.
To illustrate what I’m talking about, I’ll show you my Headline which begins with a tagline and is followed by titles that I currently hold.
In my About section I should closely follow the title listed above with two-three lines describing how I live up to the areas of expertise.
I’m not entirely accurate in terms of order of placement, and instead of using nouns I use adjectives. My headers are: 𝗝𝗢𝗕-𝗦𝗘𝗔𝗥𝗖𝗛 𝗦𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗚𝗬, 𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗞𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗡 𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗜𝗡𝗜𝗡𝗚, and 𝗕𝗟𝗢𝗚𝗚𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗢𝗡: 𝗝𝗢𝗕 𝗦𝗘𝗔𝗥𝗖𝗛 | 𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗞𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗡.
Under 𝗝𝗢𝗕-𝗦𝗘𝗔𝗥𝗖𝗛 𝗦𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗚𝗬 I have the following two statements:
★ Recently I received an award for my part in delivering job-search webinars. 🏆
★ I consistently achieve “Excellent” ratings on webinar evaluations.
Why make writing your Headline and About complicated? Show your value by using a tagline and keywords by which to be found, and then structure your About section after your Headline. Value + Consistency = Strong Branding.
The “what,” “who,” and “why” of writing your Headline
The keys to a great Headline if you’re a job seeker center around how you define yourself professionally so that you can attract the right opportunities. This 220-character piece of real estate should help showcase your unique value and character to potential employers.
You want to say three things primarily. What you do, who you are and why you’re different.
1) What you do: Identify the roles that you want and incorporate the keywords and industry terms. Research job postings for positions of interest and use a Wordcloud to identify the most common words. This ensures that recruiters can find you through the power of search engine optimization.
Remember you can include several and separate them by vertical lines or bullets. Ex: Career Development Specialist | Certified Coach | Resume Writer | Instructor | LGBTQIA+ & Career Consultant (Sandra Buatti-Ramos).
2) Who you are: Showcase your authentic personality. This could be possibly incorporating your “why” or your personal mission. This is a great opportunity to get creative, use more subjective language and even emojis. Ex: I help executives (CXO), directors & managers level up, land a job faster & increase earning power! (Adrienne Tom).
3) Why you’re different. This component is critical to expand on how you’re more than just a job title. This is an opportunity to speak about your niche market, or perhaps a really high achievement that you’ve been able to accomplish. Ex: “Acquiring 10,000 B2B Leads a Month” (Seun Oyediran).
Your profile Headline plays a crucial role when it comes to your visibility on LinkedIn for two reasons:
It helps your profile pop up in relevant searches, meaning people can find you more easily, and
It has the power to grab attention and entice more profile views.
Imagine typing in a search on LinkedIn and seeing hundreds of profiles appear in the results. How would you differentiate among them? Which profile would you click on first, increasing the chance of engaging in a conversation with that person before you reach the rest?
Your Headline needs to set your profile apart from your direct competition. Instead of resorting to the default “Job Title at Company Name’, consider this an opportunity to make a first impression and tell a story in 220 characters or less.
A great way to do that is to turn your Headline into a short slogan that summarizes your core value proposition while also hitting some of the most relevant keywords used to describe your profession and level of expertise.
Compared to a plain job title, a slogan is so much more engaging and gets the message across instantly. You don’t need to be in sales or run your own business to write up your own branding slogan.
Here are a few examples for inspiration:
Digital Marketer | Merging social media and recruitment to connect people to the right role
Helping sales teams become more successful through social selling
I like to say that strong LinkedIn Headlines apply the S.O.A.P formula:
Professional and personalized
Your Headline introduces you on LinkedIn. It follows you everywhere on the site. Often it is the only thing people see about you until your full profile is accessed.
Maximize Headline real estate to create a positive impression and help people better understand who you are and what you have to offer.
Write your Headline with purpose and intent to get found for that next-level position or awesome job opening. Clean it up with a little S.O.A.P, working within the designated character limit, as demonstrated in these examples:
Sales Executive / VP, Entertainment. Evolved the customer experience in media advertising from transactional to collaborative, propelling sales and revenue growth >>> 500%+ revenue expansion in 4 Years
VP of Product Strategy: I delivered millions in new revenue for technology companies through customer experience and product initiatives. B2C | SaaS | Global Enterprise Software Solutions | Digital Marketing
Oil & Gas Sales Manager | 110% YOY Sales Growth | $150M Territory | National Sales Teams of 40+ | Upstream and Midstream Oil & Gas
Controller: I influence decision-making and raise business profitability through the delivery of trusted financial intelligence. Accounting & Financial Leadership | Global & Fortune 500
The above Headlines are:
Specific. We know what type of role each professional holds or aspires to hold and the value they bring to business. Specific metrics and numbers help add scale, scope, and impact.
Optimized with industry keywords and terminology that recruiters could be searching for.
Authentic to each person and their offerings. Some even use first-person.
Professional and personalized, instilling confidence in the reader.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What happens when you get 16 LinkedIn pros together to talk about creating a powerful LinkedIn profile About section? You get an variety of incredible answers. You might think all of the answers would be similar. Not so.
One of our pros advises not to write a boring About section. Blunt as this might sound, it makes sense; don’t use your 2,600 characters to write a whole lot of fluff.
Don’t write a “wall of words,” another pro emphasizes; meaning keep your paragraphs short.
Your resume is 2D but your LinkedIn profile is 3D, suggests a third pro. It contains your inner world and outer world. Read what he means by this.
Yet another pro writes, “Think of your About section as a sandwich, the top slice of bread makes a personal connection, the middle is the meat, and the bottom slice ends with a personal morsel.” Yum.
A recruiter among the group stresses the importance of keywords. If you want to be found, know where to place them.
These are only six of our pros weighing in. There are 10 more who have different, yet valuable, advice to impart.
If you are one of those people who don’t have an About section, or if you want more ideas on how to make it better; read this article. It’s long, but you’ll get plenty of great ideas. The authorities who contributed to this article are the best in their trade. You won’t go wrong.
Taking a page from journalism, I liken your LinkedIn About section to a lead (lede) paragraph in a news story that gives the reader a sense of what the story will be about. Can you imagine a news article that skips this critical section? You’d probably skip reading it altogether. Same goes with your LinkedIn About section.
Contrary to popular belief, powerful and descriptive adjectives aren’t what make your LinkedIn’s About section powerful. While adjectives may be effective in telling the reader something, they don’t really show them anything of value.
When pharma companies need sales strategy and leadership to drive transformation, turnaround, launch new products or markets, or catapult teams from good to great – I am brought in.
The results? Plans that convert customers, bring new products to market and unseat the competition.
In addition to including details about your story, I often recommend including an email in your LinkedIn About section – which provides an interested party with an easy way to reach out without having to do extra clicking to find your contact info on your profile.
I see three very common errors in the LinkedIn About section.
The first error is an empty or very short About section. Why is this a mistake? Wasted opportunity!
The solution? Summarize your qualifications for the job you want in your profile’s About section. Highlight your relevant accomplishments, and demonstrate your ability to communicate clearly.
The second error is what I call the “wall of words” mistake. The wall-of-words mistake is an About section with one or two very large paragraphs of content. Why is this a mistake? Because it looks like a wall of words and is not easily scannable! We are all in a hurry now.
So, recruiters and anyone else looking quickly to learn more about you, especially if they are looking at your profile on a smart phone (which more than 50% of them are), are not going to take the time to carefully read each dense paragraph.
The third error is omitting contact information. Anyone not currently connected to you (like a recruiter) will not be able to read what you have posted in your “Contact info” section at the top of your profile. Even if you are the perfect candidate for a job, opportunities lost!
The solution? Add a sentence at the bottom of your profile which includes your permanent, professional contact information (NOT your current work or home contact information). My recommendation is to use Gmail and Google Voice, both of which can be re-directed to your current email and phone numbers.
Too many About sections have nothing in them or are boring. I read the first few sentences, and my eyes glaze over. It is such a wasted opportunity. When I ask why the person hasn’t focused on this section, they tell me they don’t know what to say.
So here is my advice. First, who is your audience? What do they need to know about you? Write it for them, not yourself. If you are a job seeker, what would an employer find of value about you? Focus on that. Likely, they will want to know about your knowledge, abilities, experiences, and accomplishments.
It would be best to have SEO in mind as you are writing, so the search engine selects your profile as relevant. Ensure you sprinkle this section with keywords used to search for someone in your field or industry.
Make sure your about section is concise. Every word you choose is important. Does it bring value and tell your story in the best way? Likely you will need to edit your About section a few times to get it right. I have. And if it makes it easier to read, feel free to use emojis if your audience appreciates them.
Lastly, do not think that the About section is written once and never touched again. You should once a quarter review your LinkedIn profile and make updates as needed. That may mean adding or deleting information from your About section, depending on the changing needs of your audience.
A.C.E. your About section: Be authentic, captivating, and effective
The LinkedIn Profile About section can be our career momentum’s greatest friend or foe. So much can work against us including writer’s block, keyword or industry jargon overload, and too much copycatting someone else’s format. If you notice any of these issues about yours, I encourage that you inner-view yourself first to turn things around.
Depending on your career goals, several parts of your answers can be included in the LinkedIn profile About section.
Be sure to evaluate this section every 3-6 months to confirm it is serving you well. Here is a communication strategy to help you ACE your About section on LinkedIn or upgrade any message about your professional value:
A = Authenticity
Does it sound like YOU? Do what you can to provide a sense of what matters to you or activates your values when you are at work. That makes you stand out in a positive way from everyone else.
C = Captivating
Are you targeting your ideal audience (those you want to read your About section the most)? Address a problem or need they have and describe what you offer to improve their situation. That is how you hold their attention to read more and take action to connect with you further.
E = Effective
Is it getting the results and impact you want? Gain clarity of what outcomes you are aiming to achieve so you can measure how it is going. That will make it clear what changes to make or if it is time to get more support with it.
Old School” LinkedIn profiles were told in the 3rd person and were more biographical. (Example: Mark is an executive leader who works globally with senior management. He has demonstrated strengths in helping companies make sense of their numbers; passionate about educating and sharing the story with the rest of the organization….). “Old School” profiles are known for feeling less personal and more jargon-y.
The About section speaks to your “inner” and “outer” worlds
If your resume is a 2-D representation of your candidacy, consider your LinkedIn profile to be your 3-D representative. The About section of your profile is really where your professional persona can truly come to life by sharing your bigger story.
The best stories make readers feel something. Your About section has the ability to accomplish this by weaving together a tapestry of your inner and outer worlds. Your inner world comprises your deep seated beliefs, values, & passions, which represent the steady, animating forces of your career path.
In addition to these two core components, it’s crucial to articulate what’s unique about you and/or how you do things. You’re not the only person with your job title or level of experience, so it’s critical to ensure that you stand out by honing in on an aspect of your career journey, background, or way of using your skills that will help you stand apart from the crowd.
If you’re in leadership, take the opportunity to define the type of leader you are and how you help create the conditions for success, and bring out the best in those on your team.
Finally, don’t forget to invite people to connect with you who are similarly aligned with your values and career interests. A powerful About section will serve as a rich conversation starter by giving your audience ample opportunity to connect to an aspect of who you are that sparks curiosity or emotion in them, and compels them to reach out to learn more.
Your About section is like a professional/personal sandwich
First, imagine the start and end of your About Section as two slices of bread. The middle is the filling.
The top slice or up-front portion is where your story begins and your personal connection is established.
Allow some of your personality to come out, writing how you speak in the first person, using.
Create a “hook” to grab your readers’ attention, with what makes you tick.
Include keywords without overstuffing and steer clear of too much jargon.
Remember you want them to be engaged and read until the end.
For the filling, it’s about quality meat (skip the cheese) to capitalize on your professional impact.
The bottom slice and endshould offer some parting personal morsels.
A few little known facts.
Call to action.
Contact information, making it easy for them to reach out, pronto.
No matter what, avoid treating this section as regurgitation of the same information on your resume.
This is a rare opportunity for those who don’t know you, yet to get a peek inside and find out more about you outside of the required hiring documents. You can still be buttoned up and deliver outstanding value without being boring or cliche.
Lastly, know that this takes time to construct, revisions and some finesse to strike the right tone.
Have others read it. If it doesn’t sound like YOU, have another go until it does.
Decision makers read the About Section and this is a piece of the hiring process you can control so
deliver excellence, to attract excellence.
Consider these 4 tips when writing your About section
With your About section, you want to catch the reader’s attention right away. You have a limited number of visible characters before the See More, so make them engaging.
You can start by telling an interesting (relevant) story about you, showcasing an impressive achievement, or outlining the most important pieces of your professional brand.
Present a concise, consistent brand
You’re not looking to make an exact replica; just make sure the message you present about yourself and the major highlights, achievements, and skills you showcase are consistent from your resume to your LinkedIn profile.
Include targeted keywords
The About section is (like most other profile sections) keyword searchable by the algorithm, so incorporate the most relevant and important keywords for your target roles. This will help increase your ranking in search results for those keywords.
Set your content apart
While the platform doesn’t offer many native options for formatting your content, there are two options to add a unique look that will make you stand apart from your competition.
Emojis – While it’s important not to over-use these, a few well-placed emojis can make a big difference in the engagement-factor of your content.
Yaytext – Yaytext.com (not an affiliate link) is a web-based tool that converts plain text into styled text (bold, italic, etc.) which you can then copy/paste into your LinkedIn profile.
The About section is like the back cover of a book: 10 best practices
Imagine your LinkedIn [Profile] like one Book in a massive Bookstore of 760M+ Professional Stories. The [Top card] is like the spine of the Book; [Profile photo], [Headline], graphic [Background photo], and small details may be what gets someone to pull your story from the shelf. Once that interest is initiated, we all know the back cover turns the browser into a buyer; this is your [About] [Summary].
The Most Successful [About] [Summary]s contain the following:
If you build that [About] [Summary] correctly, you will drive your [Profile] browser to devour the chapters within your work & volunteer [Experience], dive into your proof of knowledge leadership [Activity], understand the categories you serve in your [Skills & endorsements] and be further sold by your written [Recommendations]. Hope these thoughts help you, Market, & Book Your Own Success!
Your about section answers, “Tell me about yourself”
Want to know a secret about how to get readers stop in their tracks when they read your LI profile?
Write your About section like your story, not like a biography!
Gone are the days when we would write our About sections like a formal, third person, boring biography.
What problems do I fix? What do I bring to the table? How do I make a difference? How do I contribute to team goals? What are my leadership strengths? What are my top contributions? What is my value statement? What is my communication style? What am I known for? What am I passionate about?
You can also break up and organize different sections of your About section with emoji’s like arrows, dashes, stars, etc. This is a great way to showcase your different skill sets into mini stories with headlines like:
BUSINESS & TECHOLOGY PROCESSES ACADEMIC ORGANIZATION LEADERSHIP STYLE TEAM LEADERSHIP & SUCCESS STORIES
One thing to remember is to keep your reader in mind when writing your About section. They are thinking, “How can this person help us? How can they fix our pain points? What makes them different from everyone else in this role?”
Once you’ve completed the content, don’t forget your call to action! Offer an invitation to connect or follow, remind them to check out your portfolio of projects, work, or events in your Featured section, suggest a virtual coffee with people in your industry, or put a link to your website for more information.
There is so much you can do with your About section that will help it jump out and draw the reader in.
Make sure to list your skills; recruiters are looking for them
Despite its popularity with recruiters and omnipresence in hiring, LinkedIn is first and foremost a networking platform.That’s why Reid Hoffman created it in his living room in 2002. When viewing your profile, people want to know whether you are someone with whom they would like to network.
But you’re not here reading this installment of Things Career Related because you just want to network. You’re reading this article because you’re in the job search and want to be found be people like me.
The specific keywords I might search are those based upon my understanding of the need that will unearth the most relevant candidates.
For example: if I am seeking a senior information security professional, I might search CISSP, a well-regarded certification for such professionals. I might also search for specific experiences or skills (e.g., threat or vulnerability management or pentesting). CISSP, threat management, vulnerability management, pentesting…all of these are keywords.
Personally, I avoid focusing on job titles. This is because I learned long ago that titles issued by employers can be non-intuitive. I’ve seen marketers with the job title of technical writer, VPs who are individual contributors (looking at your financial services industry)…heck, I’ve been an editor who didn’t actually edit anything.
For a powerful About section: talk about specific skills you have, the experiences you have had, the things that set you apart. That’s how you will be found by recruiters.
When I talk with my clients about their LinkedIn profile About section, I tell them it should tell their story. But that’s too vague. There’s more to your About section than this simple statement. Another way to explain this section is that it should encompass your overall value.
There’s more than showing your greatness to consider when you’re writing this important section for the first time or revising it. To read further about 8 general tips and some ways you can write your About section, click here.
The About section of your profile is your chance to really sell your reader. There are many ways to optimize it, but the two most important things any job seeker can do are:
Lead with a highly relevant introduction
Your entire LinkedIn profile should be geared towards your target audience.
If you’re a job seeker, that means you’re writing it for the recruiter or hiring manager at your dream company who might read it. What do those people care about? They care about finding someone who matches the criteria for their roles. A winning About section opens with that.
“Award-winning sales executive with 8+ years experience driving $10M in new business for early stage cloud-based SaaS companies.”
If a recruiter or hiring manger needs a competent sales person in the SaaS / cloud space, you just checked a lot of their boxes! Relevance is key.
Provide supporting evidence of their experience with results-based “Case Study” bullet
Now that you’ve introduced yourself, you want to back up your intro with some specific case studies of your best experience.
• Generated 5 deals worth $12M at [Company] in my first 16 months as an Account Executive • Won “OneTeam” award for largest deal of the year ($8.7M) in 2021 at [Company]
These bullets should speak to specific wins and include measurable / tangible outcomes that make your value clear.
If you leverage both of these strategies in your LinkedIn About, you’re going to be off to a great start!
Before diving into what a powerful LinkedIn profile About section is, let’s start with what it isn’t: it is NOT a word-for-word copy of the summary paragraph from your resume.
Imagine you’re browsing for a book on Amazon. A few books happen to match your search criteria. You click on them, and your eye immediately goes to the book description on the sales page (aka the short blurb you’ll likely find on the back cover) where you can skim through a short summary.
What makes a compelling pitch for the About section? First of all, your pitch should reflect who you are and what makes you unique without giving away too much. Take an objective look: if your About section makes you want to read more, its core mission is accomplished. If, however, it reads as boring, overwhelming, and cluttered, then it’s definitely time for a revamp.
Writing the About section is my favorite part of crafting LinkedIn profiles for my clients. This is the perfect place for the core parts of your value proposition, i.e.:
Summarizing who you are and what you do (what would you say during a handshake introduction?)
Showcasing what sets you apart from your competition (what is your secret sauce?)
Telling your target audience what’s in it for them (why should they keep reading?)
Letting people know the easiest ways to get in touch with you (you might want to include a couple of options, such as your email and Twitter)
Think about S.H.A.R.P. acronym when writing your About section
When creating a LinkedIn About section, think S.H.A.R.P:
Searchable: Build your profile around your value offering and strategically integrate select words and language that support your offering and relate to your industry/role. What keywords and language are common for what you want to be found or known for (as a job seeker or professional)? Do some research to find out.
Action-oriented: Write your profile with an active voice and share a few career wins or measurable achievements that support your brand and offering. Be specific about who you are and the outcomes you have generated. Metrics can really pop off the page.
Robust: The About section allows up to 2,600 characters – put these characters to good use to fully maximize all the above and more. A few paltry sentences won’t cut it. Just remember to focus on the quality of content versus quantity.
Personalized: Write the About section in the first person to create more connection with readers. Be authentic and consider using the space to tell a story. Outline who you are as a professional, what makes you unique, and the value you have to offer.
Well, here you have it. If you read to this point, skimming or reading every work, thank you for taking the time to do it. Every point to make about the About section has been covered. Or are there other points that haven’t been made? If you can think of any, let me know.
Well, now I have a name for what I referred to as simply “color” that peppers my LinkedIn profile. Online job search and SEO expert, Susan Joyce, calls it, “Eye Candy.” This makes sense, as color is sweet to the eye. It draws visitors’ attention, makes the profile more attractive, and emphasizes points you want to make.
When I show eye candy on my profile in the form of colorful images of a trophy 🏆, fist 👊, and arrows ➡️; I wonder if the LinkedIn community likes them or are annoyed by them. It’s of no consequence to me because I like them.
I also have black and white eye candy on my profile like stars (★) for my accomplishments in the About section and hollowed out dots (❍) for accomplishments in my Experience section. I decided against color in these sections because…I thought it would be a little too much.
(These black and white eye candy are not as stunning as the colorful eye candy, but they beat the hell out of the hyphens (-) and asterisks (*) and small dots (•) which are transferred when you paste your Word doc to LinkedIn.)
The majority of people on LinkedIn don’t know about eye candy and are content with the basic symbols that replace the laborious formatting in their Word file.
Today I’m presenting an article from Susan Joyce, one of a few people I host on my humble blog, who explains why and where to use eye candy and provides more than 100 examples of eye candy.
No matter how you slice it, there are five areas you must nail on your LinkedIn profile. People’s opinions vary on the order of importance, so the best I can do is give you my take on this and why I list them in my order of preference.
In a poll I conducted a year ago, of 1,189 people who voted, 46% chose the Headline over the About and Experience sections. I was in the minority and chose About (24%). The runner up was Experience (30%).
I’m not going to rehash this poll other than to say I’ve changed my mind in terms of how I rank the sections. (Hey, if politicians can change their minds, why can’t I?) Were I to vote again, I would place the Experience above the other two.
I’m not trying to be contrary here. The reason why I think Experience is so important is that this is where you hit recruiters over the head with the accomplishments. Stick with only the accomplishments and chuck the mundane duties. 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 you can’t fake the content in Experience.
I want to bring up one of my pet peeves. 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. It also comes across as arrogant.
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%.”
The Headline is my second choice of areas where you must nail one of the five sections. I’ve read thousands of LinkedIn profiles—this is a fact I had to double check—so I’ve seen the good, bad, and the heinous.
A Headline that meets the heinous criterium would be “Seeking Next Opportunity,” and that’s it. This adds absolutely no value to a potential employer; rather it simply tell them the job seeker’s situation.
Meg Guiseppi, Personal Branding Strategist says this about the Headline:
“I always want people to reinforce their personal brand by getting some personality in their headline. But I feel packing it with keywords is more important. For the most part, save the descriptive adjectives for your About and Experience sections, and elsewhere.”
Here’s an example she gives:
CFO, Senior Finance & Operations Executive – Alternative & Mobile Payments Pioneer, Global Monetization, E-commerce, M&A
Keywords are important, especially if you’re in the job search, but I also like to see a short, impactful tagline. Take Lezlie Garr’s Headline that includes a tagline following her keywords:
Career Change Advocate | Certified Career Transition Coach & Resume Writer | LinkedIn, Interview & Job Search Strategist | I help ambitious professionals shift out of soul-sucking work and into meaningful careers
Not to dwell on that notorious poll, but this section was my first choice a year ago. As I said earlier, people are allowed to change their mind. This said, About can be impactful if done correctly. But many people don’t put in the effort to make this section great.
To nail About you have to tell your story. Story, you may wonder? What does Bob mean by this. This is where you can describe what drives you to succeed or problems you face in your industry and how you solve them.
Here’s a brief example of a client of mine who’s baiting readers by asking them in the first paragraph if they need his services.
Are you looking for someone who can increase your ROI? With my product development, sales management, and channel management experience, I am a triple threat and will add great value to your company. I am a sales/product leader and global channel manager with a demonstrated history of working from startup to large… see more
Another LinkedIn member uses the body of his About section to explain his experience in product management/marketing with a brief caption below. He lists five areas of expertise in all to tell his story.
►DEEP PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY CAPABILITIES: My roots are in product management/marketing. This strength has enabled me to understand and market complex technologies. I have had success with a wide variety of innovative B2B and healthcare products, including data analytics, data prep, data integration, cybersecurity/compliance, telecommunications, and IoT platforms.
There are various ways you can conclude your About section, one of which is to list a call to action where you list your contact information. You can also reiterate your value to employers or, in my case, tell readers that you see the bigger picture.
𝗜 𝗚𝗘𝗧 𝗜𝗧
If you’re unemployed, you don’t need to be told that being out of work can be challenging, both emotionally and financially. I know because I’ve been there. So I’ll be the last person to tell you to not feel bad. However, I will tell you that it’s temporary. I’ll also tell you not to go it alone.
Why do I list Activity as one of the sections you need to nail on your profile? It’s simple; you demonstrate one of the most important components of a LinkedIn campaign, engagement. If I see no pulse in someone’s Activity section, I assume they posted their profile and just let it sit there.
This article is about the LinkedIn profile, but you have to look at the big picture. It’s not worth writing a stellar profile if people don’t know you exist. There are four simple ways to engage with your network:
1. Start by following LinkedIn members
You might want to start following people before connecting with them. You will still see their content in your feed, but you won’t be able to communicate with them directly unless you have a premium account and use Inmail to send them a message.
2. Actively search for content from LinkedIn members
Hopefully your first- and second-degree connections, and the people you’re following are like-minded and produce content that gels with you. For example, if you are in Supply Chain and want to read, view videos, or hear podcasts on this topic simply type “Supply Chain” in the Search field at the top left-hand corner of any page. Then select Posts.
3. Search for content companies produce
LinkedIn allows you to select hastags (#) which categorizes content. Instead of spending time on your feed searching for your desired topics, type in the Search engine #(topic). For example, if you want to read articles on digital marketing, type #digitalmarketing and select Posts.
4. React and comment on what others write
Once you’ve chosen who to follow or connect with, their content will be displayed in your feed. However, LinkedIn doesn’t show all of the content that LinkedIn members you follow produce. You’ll have to actively search for it. This might seem like a needle in a haystack.
If you’re wondering why I list Education last, it’s simple. This section is the last one before Licenses and Certifications, and it can’t be moved like in days past. This is one reason why Education comes in last place.
More so, LinkedIn members dismiss this section by treating it like their resume. What I mean by this is that most of them simply list their school, location, and degree. But there’s so much more a person can write about their experience in school. Madeline Mann is a great example. Here’s what she writes:
University of Southern California Master of Science (M.S.) Field Of Study Organizational Development – Applied Psychology Activities and Societies: Phi Kappa Phi
• Part of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society – only top 10% of the program selected for this honor • Served as the sole student representative on the program’s admissions board
Managing and Developing People, Strategy and Organization Consulting, Statistics, Organizational Psychology, Facilitation Design, Research Methods, Group Dynamics and Leadership.
The program turns psychology insight into business impact with a rigorously applied curriculum that combines research focused material in Dornsife College with MBA courses in the Marshall School of Business.
Do you see how well she uses the description area, rather than leaving it blank. This goes to further nail her profile.
You are probably wondering why Skills & Endorsements and even Recommendations weren’t included as areas you need to nail on your LinkedIn profile. And this is a fair question. Here’s the thing, these two sections have taken a serious nosedive in recent years.
Think about the last time you were endorsed for a skill. Are you being endorsed on a regular basis? Are you endorsing others? Now think about the last time you wrote someone a recommendation or received one. I think this makes my point.
Further, these sections are buried so low on the profile that people rarely look at them. I only visit these two areas on someone’s profile when I’m doing a LinkedIn webinar or training. And this is simply to say that one of my connections has 99+ endorsements for many skills, and that he hasn’t received any endorsements since.
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In this guest article by Laura Smith-Proulx, one of my favorite resume and LinkedIn profile writers, she talks about adding value to your Headline and not simply listing your title and the company’s name. After all, your profile isn’t about your company; it’s about you. Laura also provides great examples of strong Headlines.
Did you let LinkedIn put your current job in your Headline?
If so, you’re among the millions of LinkedIn users who fail to market their own personal brand.
Look around on LinkedIn and you’ll see the same scenario: too many people fail to uncheck that box in their current job that says “Update My Headline.”
As a result, you’re left with Sales Manager at XYZ Company or VP of Production at AB Manufacturing.
This could be one of the biggest obstacles in your job search! You’re MUCH more than a job title. With so many opportunities on LinkedIn to promote your value to employers, your Headline should be tuned more carefully.
Here are the 3 reasons why you should take your current job out of your Headline (and what to use instead):
Your Headline should market your personal brand, not your employer.
Your current job title probably does a poor job of representing your potential!
Not only was it designed by your employer, it also picks up your company name… and now you have a banner that clearly describes a position you may want to leave.
But if you design your OWN Headline, you’ll have a valuable opportunity to add a success story, keywords, and job titles that help others find you.
These Headlines show how you can “advertise” your skills for a future job search:
VP Sales & Marketing | 13 Winning Sales Teams Developed to Create #1 Market Performance | Global & US Revenue & Growth Strategies | Fortune-Ranked Technology, Government, OEM, Engineering, & Defense Markets
COO & VP Operations. Fast Turnarounds & Market Share Growth in EMEA, Americas, & APAC Regions. 299% Growth From New Revenue Streams, Corporate Contracts, & Transformation. Board Member, Mentor, Executive Sponsor
Your current job might not match your career goals.
Let’s say you’re aiming for the next level up in your career. By tuning your Headline for a promotion, you’ll come up in searches for the target job, not just the one you already hold.
This example shows how an Operations leader can show readiness for the COO position, referencing the skills they are already using and focusing on high-value keywords:
Healthcare Executive. COO-Level Authority for Clinical Operations, Patient Care Quality, Safety, & CMS Ratings. Relentless Drive for Excellence & Patient Satisfaction. Champion for Team Growth & Service Line Development
You can see that this Headline continues to mention Operations, making it possible to be spotted as a senior leader while leaving the possibility open to be found in searches for a COO.
No matter your career level, mentioning your desired role (which you can also add to the About section) helps show your intentions and position you more strategically as a rising leader in your field.
Your current job title is far too SHORT to describe your skills.
It comes as no surprise to me that most people feel engagement is the most important component of a LinkedIn campaign. A poll conducted on LinkedIn clearly showed that almost half the voters (47%) agree.
The other two components are a branding/optimized profile, which garnered 29% of the votes and a focused network, which was narrowly beat out with 24% of the votes.
As a job seeker you might feel that having a branding profile is most important; and that makes good sense, especially if you’re trying to draw hiring authorities to it. Create it and they will come.
But how will you draw hiring authorities (recruiters, HR, and hiring managers) to your profile if you have an abysmal network? Someone with 87 connections will not create as many opportunities as someone with 500+ will.
Further, how will you show your expertise or thought leadership if you don’t engage with your connections. LinkedIn has stated that engaging with your network will increase your chances of appeasing the algorithm. In other words, a great profile and strong network still aren’t enough says LinkedIn.
So here’s the fact: they’re all important. And as one respondent to the poll surmised that choosing among the three “is like asking which of my children is my favorite.”
For me, the choice between the three is not that difficult. Engagement is what drives your LinkedIn campaign. But I also realize it’s tough for job seekers to put themselves out there; many have told me as much and it’s illustrated by their lack of engagement.
3rd place: focused, like-minded network
LinkedIn gives us mixed messages. On one hand it tells us to invite people we know and trust to our network. On the other hand, how do we create opportunities with a small network?
Job seekers need to look at building a network as a way to build relationships with people they DON’T know. Therein lie the opportunities. Only building a network with those you know and trust limits your ability to create these opportunities.
I see Introductions to potential connections as the ultimate gateway to possibilities. This requires strategy, though. As many LinkedIn pundits say, “You can’t just spray and pray.” You have to know who you want to connect with, who will help you in your job search.
One person called me on my definition of a quality network, which I call like-minded, where the people in your network have a lot in common. Said person claimed that my definition of a strong network is limited. They said like-minded would disqualified people from whom I could learn.
In my defense, I’m not suggesting that you only connect with people in your immediate family or friends. Those would be the people with 87 connections. When you’re in the job hunt you want to reach out to your former colleagues, people who work at your desired companies, recruiters in your industry, and the like.
I try to mix my network up with people in other industries like marketing, blogging, and academia. It wouldn’t make sense for the majority of my network to consist of engineers, lawyers, salespeople, accountants, etc. I wouldn’t be interested in their content, nor would they be interested in mine.
For people who make their living on the people in their network (I’m talking about career coaches, specifically), it makes great sense for them to branch out. Many career coaches I know have a diverse network of people who need their services. The occupations they don’t specialize in are referred to other career coaches.
2nd place: Your LinkedIn profile
Go figure, the profile isn’t as sexy as engagement. But I suppose this matters who you ask. Many of the people who chose engagement are those who are gainfully employed. The poll question begins with, “During the job search….” I guess this bit of clarification was overlooked.
Nonetheless, a profile that is optimized and brands you is important no matter your situation. Someone who’s in marketing or sales needs to be able to demonstrate their marketing or sales prowess to convince visitors of their credibility, correct?
A job seeker definitely has to have a profile that contains the proper keywords and delivers a value proposition. Branding is essential in the job search and this is where it starts. But branding also comes through thoughtful and consistent engagement. In fact, LinkedIn says your profile needs more than keywords:
More keywords aren’t always better – Our advice would be to avoid overfilling your profile with keywords and only include the keywords that best reflect your expertise and experience. If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your profile, it’s likely that your profile will be filtered out by our spam detection algorithms, which will negatively impact your appearance in search results.
I chose engagement as the most important component of the three. This leads me back to my statement above about thinking when you build it, they will come. Too many job seekers think this way. It’s like storing their resume on job boards like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and the others.
The winner: Engagement
I tell my clients that their profile is important, but it’s also important to engage with their network. Yet many of them don’t get it. I don’t think the “build it and they will come” attitude prevents them from engaging; I think they lack the confidence or don’t feel they have the right to express their expertise.
First of all, you have expertise in your field and, therefore, shouldn’t question your right to engage with your connections. One memorable client once told me this. He was the former director of communications for one of the largest school districts on the east coast. He was obviously a strong writer who had a lot to share.
My clients often ask me how they can engage with their connections. The first and most obvious way to engage is through personal messaging. You won’t reach as many people this way, but you can develop and nurture relationships.
Other ways to engage with your connections include:
1. Sharing and commenting on articles that will add value to them (just be sure to tag the writer of said article.
2. Writing long posts in which you express your thoughts and expertise.
3. Contribute to other’s long posts.
4. share photos and thoughtful captions.
5. and ask questions. These are a few ways to engage with your connections.
Easy peasy. Yet, it’s people like me and some of the others who voted for this component who are comfortable expressing their views. To call us exhibitionist would be crude, but maybe there’s a little bit of that going around.
In all fairness, I think the poll should have more clearly stated that those who voted must have thought about the LinkedIn campaign in terms of job seekers. Or at least more job seekers should have voted.
What some of the voters said
Virginia Franco: This is like asking which of my children is my favorite!!! No fair Bob McIntosh, CPRW! OK – if I have to pick I’d say the focused network – given that so many roles are filled through referral.
Hannah Morgan:Virginia Franco and Bob McIntosh, CPRW having a “meaningful” network is important. I don’t think that it necessarily needs to be consistent or Like-minded. Don’t we learn from those with diverse or different backgrounds? And how will we ever grow if we only “hang” with people who think like us? More importantly, growing our network with people who are in new industries or areas helps with survival (and career change).
Jennifer Bangoura: Wow! I am consistently surprised by these LinkedIn poll results – to me a focused network was the obvious choice, but I see I’m in the minority with that opinion 🙂 It seems like the other two options are of course important, but they ring a bit hollow if you’re not branding/engaging with the network you want to move into or galvanize. Interesting!
Jeff Young: 1st degree connection: Bob McIntosh, CPRW like many others, I think any ONE or TWO of these things is not going to make you successful. Therefore, I wish to cast my vote for all three. Since you forced me to vote for one above, I voted for Profile, because IMHO you have to start with that BEFORE you can work on the other two.
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1. You could have the best profile, but if you don’t engage with your network, then all you have is some window dressing.
2. You could have a focused-network, but if your profile is weak, you’re making a not-so-stellar impression on each person in that network
3. You could engage with people consistently, but if you are engaging with people outside your target, are you spinning your wheels and wasting a lot of time?
This is a tough choice, Bob. I want to pick all three!
If I had to pick, I’d say Branding/Optimized profile, with the hope you’d use it to network with your target audience and engage them consistently.
Ana Lokotkova: I’d love to choose all three, because all of these are important parts of a well-crafted LinkedIn strategy. I’m leaning a bit more towards consistent engagement for 2 reasons:
1 – It amplifies the results the other two can get you,
2 – It’s the one thing so many people overlook while focusing on the other two points. Consistent engagement is that one secret sauce that separates people who get great results out of LinkedIn from the ones who don’t see any results and wonder what they’ve been doing wrong.
Jessica Hernandez:That’s a tough one because as you said, they’re all important. However, if you’re engaging on LinkedIn and building your network but your profile is empty or weak you’re only holding yourself back. I think having a branded profile is the most important so that you have a strong presence to point your network to when you’re job searching.
Austin Belcak: Consistent engagement for me Bob McIntosh, CPRW! I know people who have professional headshots, custom cover photos, amazing About sections and…nobody finds them because they don’t put themselves out there.
I also know people with bare bones profiles who are consistently showing up and engaging with others. They’re getting tons of opportunities.
The most powerful way to leverage this platform is by showing up for others. That’s how you build the focused/like-minded network.
Jim Peacock: I think your branding needs to be the 1st step, so that when you go to network, you look your best. And when you do your “consistent engagement” your brand is still representing you. If you don’t get the branding right, then your networking and engagement is compromised.
Heather Spiegel: I echo what Maureen said! It’s hard to really choose one. However, to flip things, I think people spend the least amount of time on consistent engagement. Because it’s hard and sometimes it’s uncomfortable. However, building your network and consistently learning from the feedback and insights of your connections (and continually gaining comfort with sharing your unique value proposition) is invaluable in advancing your job search.
Sarah Elkins (she, her): Consistent engagement demonstrates your values and skills if you do it well. That means explaining why you’re sharing content, posting original content, and adding value in your comments.
This is far more effective than telling people what you do!