I had a LinkedIn profile before I had a job. That has nothing to do with tremendous foresight on my behalf and everything to do with a very supportive father who helped me set one up when I was on my way to University.

Now, 9 years later, I not only have a LinkedIn profile, but I’ve received job offers because of it. I’ve made valuable industry connections. I’ve kept in touch with professional contacts whose emails I didn’t have, and many many other things.

A few years ago, I began freelancing and one of the services I provided was editing LinkedIn profiles. It was surprising how quickly this took off. Before too long, I was editing several LinkedIn profiles a week, often for executives who didn’t have the time to do a makeover of their profiles.

Through this knowledge, I’m also in the position to be able to volunteer to teach a class about LinkedIn with my local women’s resource centre.

All that to say, I’m a big fan of the professional network. It’s been good for my career and I know that a powerful LinkedIn profile can be valuable in many ways.

Read on to learn my process for creating or revamping a LinkedIn profile.


To start, I’m very interested in what each person’s purpose or interest is in having a LinkedIn profile.

Here are a few common categories:

  • Someone looking to use LinkedIn for thought leadership. This would mean more of a focus on publishing on LinkedIn and a clean profile that supports that.
  • People looking for new jobs or even clients or speaking engagements.
  • Professional looking to maintain a strong personal brand — that’s me! Read more about why I keep my LinkedIn profile updated even when I’m not job hunting.

Once you know what your goal is with LinkedIn, it changes your strategy.

If you’re looking to be known as a thought leader you want a clean and professional profile to support all of your publishing.

If you’re job hunting, you want to make sure your current profile accurately fits the job you’re applying for and you’ll want to start getting recommendations for your current or past jobs.

If you’re working on a strong personal brand, you’ll keep it up to date with work milestones and add new media examples as they come up.

There are, of course, many more reasons to stay active on LinkedIn. Those three examples are simply the ones I’ve encountered the most.


Before we start, I want to provide a few examples in case you’re looking for inspiration. You’re, of course, welcome to check out my profile. (If you add me, let me know it was from this blog post!)

Here are a few other profiles I admire:

Candice Galek

She’s the Founder of Bikini Luxe and a LinkedIn pro and I interviewed her about her strategies a few years ago on the Buffer podcast. She leverages her LinkedIn for new business opportunities.

Michaela Alexis

She’s a LinkedIn Trainer and Speaker so absolutely a wonderful person to draw inspiration from!

She’s a LinkedIn Trainer and Speaker so absolutely a wonderful person to draw inspiration from!

Joel Gascoigne

Buffer’s CEO and a prime example of a clean and minimal LinkedIn profile for an executive.

Emily Thomas

She’s a Marketing Manager at Amazon and has a powerful career-focused LinkedIn profile.

Now, let’s start editing.

Let’s start from the top of your LinkedIn profile and go into more details around each section.

Intro

Profile photo

If you’re looking to make a good impression with your LinkedIn profile, I would encourage you to use a high-quality, professional profile photo. Early in my career, I had a friend take a photo of me with an iPhone on a plain wall, and that photo worked for me for several years until I decided to pay for a professional headshot.

Cover photo

Many people stick with LinkedIn’s standard image here, which is a great option. If you want to spice things up and especially if you have an image that reflects your personal brand or company that you’d rather use then definitely opt for that. To save you some Googling, the dimensions for a LinkedIn cover photo are (currently) 1,584 x 396 px.

Headline

This is what people will always see by your name as they’re scrolling around LinkedIn. Most commonly, this is your current work position. For example, mine is Head of Public Relations at Buffer.

Some other examples of leveraging this space include founders who promote that their company is hiring or people who add that they’re looking for new opportunities into their headline so that it appears prominently on their profile.

About

Summary

I’m surprised at how often the summary is underutilized. I recommend using it as a place to highlight your strengths and provide an overview of your career. I wouldn’t recommend highlighting your current experience too much, because there’s space for that in the ‘Experience’ section. Instead, use it to tell a story about who you are and your career journey.

Media

You can add media (like links and attachments) to your summary. This is a great way to highlight speaking experience, articles you’ve written or been mentioned in, and any other media that is a positive reflection of you professionally.

Experience

Work

As you would expect, there’s a very clear space to add your work experience on LinkedIn. One of the biggest things I see on LinkedIn is people leaving on experience that they might not need to have on there. Unlike a one page resume, you can have all of your experience on your LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean that you need to. If you would prefer to leave some things out that’s perfectly fine. Think of the narrative you’d like to craft about your career on LinkedIn and select your work experience accordingly.

One other note, remember to edit your previous experience. I often see people who have a job from five years ago might still have in the description “I do this here.” Instead of, “I used to do this here.”

Media

Just like you can add media to your summary, you can add it to each role that you’ve added to LinkedIn. Since I work in public relations, naturally I want to feature press mentions that I’ve achieved for Buffer. I’ve also seen people include portfolio samples and projects that they’ve worked on in this section or blog posts they’ve written.

Skills & Endorsements

Skills are the specific skills you list like “Public Relations” or “Public Speaking” and endorsements are the number of people who have said that you do have this skill. LinkedIn lets you pin three skills to your profile, and the rest are only available to someone if they expand the section. In case you’re curious, here are some of the most in-demand hard and soft skills that LinkedIn listed in recent years.

I recommend choosing three skills that are fitting for your goals if it’s related to a job you’re currently applying for or your current job. LinkedIn will highlight whether you’ve been endorsed specifically by others who are highly skilled in the skill you’ve added. If you are looking to get more endorsements, I’d recommend endorsing your friends and contacts and then asking if they might be up for doing the same.

It’s worth noting, I’m not sure how many recruiters truly look at endorsements for skills so be sure that’s a priority for you before you invest your time there. If you don’t want to list any skills, that’s also an option. For some executives, we’ve removed their skills completely to make their profile look more minimal.

Recommendations

Received

Any recommendations you’ve received by your contacts are visible on your profile unless you’ve hidden them. Like I mentioned in the skills section, how you leverage this section depends entirely on your goals. Having several strong recommendations for recent roles will add a level of credibility to your profile if you’re job hunting, whereas if your profile only has a handful of recommendations from very old work experiences, it might be worth removing them or asking for new recommendations to display.

Given

LinkedIn also displays any recommendations that you give. You can choose to hide these if you’d like. I believe that writing a good recommendation for a colleague is an undervalued skill. This section is a great place to show off that you’ve been supportive of your colleagues or direct reports in previous roles.


Those are all of the sections I focus on when I’m editing a LinkedIn profile. There are a few more sections, like Volunteer Experience, Education, Languages, and Interests, which are all fairly straight forward. I encourage you to keep tinkering with your LinkedIn profile as you gain new experiences and skills that you can add.

Thanks for giving this post a read! If I missed something or you still have a burning question about LinkedIn that I didn’t answer, feel free to comment below or send me a tweet. 😊

If you’ve already set up a great LinkedIn profile and you’re looking to do more, check out this post I wrote with nine tips to take your LinkedIn profile to the next level.

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