It all starts with the headshot.
Your hair is combed, your teeth are brushed, and you’re sitting awkwardly on a stool at approximately a 65° angle facing the camera. Click. Snap. You’re a professional now.
While much ado can be made about your social media profile pictures, LinkedIn is the most simple. This is where you present the buttoned-up you (the version of yourself you imagine hanging on the wall under the Employee of the Month sign)
But a good LinkedIn profile requires more than just the perfect picture. You need experiences, references, education history, and well, let’s just tackle these things one at a time, shall we?
Welcome, fellow colleagues, to the definitive guide of what makes a good LinkedIn profile.
Do I even need a LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn is the largest professional social network out there with more than 800 million users worldwide. Yes, some of those people are “life gurus” and “self-employed business leaders,” but a lot of those people are serious executives and, you guessed it—recruiters. So, if you’re looking to land a new job, or just want to see what else is out there, understanding the LinkedIn landscape is super helpful.
LinkedIn is also different from other social media platforms. This isn’t where you’re going to find the dankest memes (is that what the youths call them?), but it is where you’re going to find the latest think-pieces on what is happening in the stock market.
So, your LinkedIn profile needs to reflect the professionalism of the platform.
Start at the top
Profile picture. We’ve already covered that, but a good LinkedIn profile starts with a professional image. Leave the mirror selfies behind. Time to throw on a dress shirt and a tie and look your best. This is the picture you want your future boss to see.
Below your profile picture is your Headline. Here, a simple job title will work. We recommend keeping this simple—avoid emojis and adjectives. If you’re an accountant, put Accountant, not “Really cool numbers guy 🤓”.
Show people what you look like and tell them what you do. Nothing more.
What is it you do here?
A simple and clear explanation of your current job title and responsibilities is a great start for what makes a good LinkedIn profile. By filling out the “About Section” with a brief summary of who you are, what some of your strengths are, and what you do in your current role, you’re already ahead of the game.
The “About Section” is near the top of your LinkedIn profile, and it will be one of the first things others will look at when they hit your profile. Don’t get too long-winded with this. A couple of quick sentences are nice.
Any former employers?
The next section that makes a good LinkedIn profile is a well-thought-out employment history. Here, you can basically rebuild your resume. Include places you’ve worked, titles you’ve held, and if you want to add some bullets describing what exactly you did there, go for it.
No need to go too far back here (high school lifeguard isn’t needed), but show people where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Your experiences are what has brought you to where you are in your career, so don’t be shy. Let the people know.
Education and Skills
Last but not least, where’d you go to school and what are you good at? For education, college and postgraduate schools are great here—as well as any certifications you’ve earned. If you went to Harvard, definitely include Harvard here. If you went on a school tour of Harvard once, well, that doesn’t quite count.
For the skills section, there are two ways to go about this. One, take LinkedIn’s skills assessments. And since that’s exactly as exciting as it sounds, we recommend reaching out to your connections to have them endorse you for skills.
If that feels weird, endorse them first. Nothing wrong with sharing the love in hopes of getting some back too. Giving kudos to an old coworker on LinkedIn is socially acceptable. Liking a photo of your old coworker from 2013 on Instagram is not. Know the difference, friends.
At the end of the day a good LinkedIn profile is cool, crisp, clean, and professional. Oh wait, is that exactly how people describe our Leeward dress shirt? Huh, fancy that. Maybe get one to wear in your next LinkedIn profile picture…