Use the professional name by which people know you, including first name and last name. If everyone calls you Nick, but your full name is Nicholas, it’s okay to use Nick. If you recently changed your name, and people in your network know you by this previous name, you can consider including both names.
By default, this will list your current job title. If you are currently unemployed, go ahead and change this title to the job that you want. In addition to your job title, you have space to list the top 2-4 functions that you want in your job, using keywords relevant to your industry. For example: Rather than limiting yourself to, “Market Researcher,” create something more in-depth and focused: “Market Researcher, measuring online consumer behavior using statistical analysis, Web analytics, and eCommerce best practices.” If you are currently employed, and you don’t want your employer to know you are job hunting, leave your current job as your default headline, and feel free to add your specific job functions.
Listing your location creates an opportunity for more in-person connections. If you’re hoping or expecting to move away from your current geography, list the location where you’re hoping or expecting to move. If you don’t have a target destination, it’s okay to leave this field blank.
Unfortunately, you can only choose one industry. If you are attempting to switch career fields, choose the new field that you desire employment in (unless you are currently employed, as this might cause suspicion).
Your photo shows that you are a real person. It’s okay if you’re not a supermodel — post a photo. Do your best to use a professional looking headshot. If you don’t already have one, put on your best job interview clothes and take a well-lit photo with a plain background behind you. Consider hiring a professional, or at least ask a friend to take the shot so you don’t get any weird “selfie” angles.
6. Contact information
This section is only visible to your connections. Include your email address and phone number, along with links to any social media profiles or personal websites that represent you well.
This is where you include your elevator pitch. Be sure to include the relevant keywords of your job function and industry so that you can be found by hiring managers and recruiters. Add these key terms organically — meaning naturally, without impairing the readability or flow of your profile. Focus on the top attributes that make you unique and valuable to the company, along with a couple of accomplishments to back it up. The idea is to present your top “headliners” — the big points for how you will solve problems and add value for your next employer and clients.
Here, you will list all of your relevant work experience by position title. Simply use your resume to provide the information. If you aren’t currently working, consider adding a new job title at your own consulting firm.
Here’s where you list the schools that you are connected to. You can also add links or files that include details about your academic experiences. LinkedIn indexes universities and specific schools within universities. This is helpful to find school-related groups. You don’t need to list your graduation years. In fact, some experts recommend omitting them if you are concerned about age discrimination.
10. Skills and Endorsements
This can be a powerful section that can help you get discovered online. LinkedIn has amassed a huge number of different skills you can select from as your strengths. Your connections can then endorse you for these skills, enhancing your credibility. In the field provided, start by typing in the skills that are most essential to the job you want. LinkedIn will help you auto-fill the rest. Just be careful to list only the essential skills for the jobs you are targeting. If you list other skills, you may start receiving more endorsements for these secondary skills, as opposed to the ones you want to promote. Not receiving any endorsements? You can increase your likelihood of getting them by endorsing others in your network.
This is an incredibly powerful section. You can ask current and past managers, co-workers, or even customers you served to write a reference for you, that a potential employer can look at any time. Don’t worry about this section right now. We’ll come back to it.
12. Additional Information
This section lets you post interests or other relevant keywords related to your career interests. These keywords can help you be found in LinkedIn searches. The section also includes fields for marital status and date of birth. Feel free to leave those blank. There’s also a “details for contacting me” section, which you can also ignore.
As an extension of your education section, you can list any job-relevant certifications (optional).
You can add specific courses that highlight your educational accomplishments or specific skills that you developed related to specific jobs. (Optional)
15. Volunteering and causes
If you are significantly involved in any volunteering projects, you can include them here. This is especially helpful if you are pursuing a non-profit / public service role. (optional)
16. Honors and Awards. List any awards. (optional)
17. Languages. List any languages you speak. (optional)
List any associations or organizations that can increase your credibility or help you create a connection.
If you’ve earned a patent list it here. (optional)
20. Test Scores
If you are a recent graduate and your scores can help you stand out from the competition, you may want to include them here (as well as on your resume). (optional)
This field will let you fill in additional details on any projects related to your education or work experience. This can be a nice way to showcase relevant experience if your overall resume doesn’t highlight the skills that are most valued for your target job (optional).
One quick (but important) note: LinkedIn will normally broadcast to your network every time you make a change to your profile. Since you are going to be making a lot of changes, leading to many notifications, you want to turn this off. Go to your settings, then select privacy settings. Click on activities broadcasts, and uncheck the box that says, “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations or follow companies.” Press save.