LinkedIn is the first place that potential contacts, recruiters, and interviewers will go to take a look at your online presence. A polished profile is relatively easy to put together and goes a long way toward presenting yourself as a strong candidate. Also, be sure that the information on your profile is consistent with your application materials.
The essentials for your LinkedIn profile
We recommend your profile have the items below (as a minimum) before reaching out to potential contacts and submitting your applications:
- Professional photo: This will inform a viewer's first impression of you more than anything else on your page. Include a professional photo, ideally a headshot with a clean background. Also, do make sure the photo is relatively recent.
- Header: This auto-populates to “Current Position at Current Company.” This is completely acceptable. If you’re a student, you can put “Degree and Current University.” You can also include a combination of roles, employers, and education if you think it better represents your background. Here are a few different examples:
Financial Services at Company | Top University
Financial Services | Ex-Top Company | Top University
Top University | Project Leader for Top University management consulting project
- Work experiences: Include your employers, positions held, dates of employment, and locations. In addition, include a brief description (~3 lines of text) that explains the organization and your role. Note: we do not recommend including the same bullets as your resume (a higher-level description is often more effective for someone skimming your profile).
- Education: Include your universities, degrees, and dates of graduation. You can also include your GPA, awards, certifications, scholarships, and/or relevant coursework.
- Connections: Add your family, friends, classmates, and coworkers. This is so helpful when it comes to identifying potential contacts to reach out to, as you will be able to see if you have any shared connections in common.
Bonus points for a robust LinkedIn profile
We recommend spending time on these elements to make your profile really stand out and generate interest from recruiters:
- Unique background photo: This is simple, quick to do, and a nice way to stand out. There are no hard rules for what to include here (outside of the obvious: keep it professional). We recommend a landscape shot of a city or natural scenery. This could be a photo of somewhere you have traveled or the location you hope to work, to give a few examples. This is not a make-or-break but can help your profile be a little more memorable.
- About summary: This can be really impactful for introducing yourself. Write 1-2 paragraphs that summarize your experience to date (this can be on the shorter side if you’re a student and on the longer side if you’re an experienced professional). We recommend using first-person and covering the highlights that you would typically include in response to “tell me about yourself” in a job interview. In addition, after your paragraph(s), you can include a bulleted list of “areas of expertise” and/or “skills” at the end of this section.
- Skills and endorsements: Here, you can include IT, analytics, communication, and other professional skills. This section also allows others to endorse you for those skills. We don’t find this section to be hugely impactful, but it is simple to populate and does not hurt to have.
- Accomplishments: Here, you can include languages, publications, and other accomplishments. Languages are particularly valuable to include if you are applying to offices that speak multiple languages or are likely to include international projects.
- Interests: Follow the companies that you are applying to, as well as university groups and people of interest (CEOs of companies that you are interested in and other thought leaders). This is a great way to ensure that your newsfeed is filled with valuable content.