23 LinkedIn tips for job seekers

What’s the best time to post on LinkedIn for maximum visibility? Should you hire a professional photographer to take your LinkedIn profile pic? LinkedIn experts share their secrets for job hunting success.

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With more than 645 million users, LinkedIn is by far the most important social network for professionals, especially those actively searching for a new job.

But it’s not enough to simply put up a LinkedIn profile and call it a day. The following 23 tips from LinkedIn experts, including a career expert at LinkedIn, will help you more effectively create and optimize your public LinkedIn profile and grow your network and visibility.

LinkedIn tips for creating your profile

1. Include personal details

Humanize your profile with a few details about your personal interests, hobbies and affiliations, suggests Shannon Wilkinson, author of “Reputation Reboot: What Every Business Leader, Rising Star & VIP Needs to Know.” Such details help round you out as a person and can make you more relatable.

“I heard about a recent business school graduate in North Carolina who listed sailing as one of his hobbies,” Wilkinson said. “A CEO at an investment firm in Europe who was looking for a new hire saw the graduate’s interest in sailing and flew him to Dublin for an interview. He got the job.”

2. Add educational background

Profiles with an educational background included receive up to 17x more messages from recruiters, noted Blair Decembrele, career expert at LinkedIn. “Be sure to fill in your degree type, fields of study (if applicable), grade you received (optional), and the years you attended school, as well as certifications received,” she said. “It helps give others more insight into your skills and experience.”

3. List your location

Professionals with a location listed on their profile receive up to 19x more profile views, Decembrele said. Including the city where you’re based makes you up to 23x more likely to be found by other LinkedIn users (such as former colleagues), too. Up to 28x more messages are sent to members with a location listed. And more than 30 percent of recruiters rely on location information to find candidates.

4. Share your skills

Use your profile to showcase what you’ve learned in your career. Including five or more skills can help you get up to 17x more profile views and up to 31x more messages from recruiters, Decembrele said.

In addition, hiring managers evaluate how you demonstrate soft skills such as leadership, teamwork and prioritization. Make sure to weave these skills into examples of your work, experience and knowledge to show you’re the right candidate for the job.

5. Create a customized URL

 Including your name in a customized LinkedIn URL helps your LinkedIn profile rank well in Google search results, making it easier for hiring managers to find you and share your information with other hiring managers, said Decembrele.

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6. Don’t keyword-stuff

Some people stuff their profiles with the keywords they want to be found for, such as adding their job title or expertise to their profile name (e.g., “John Smith Marketing Expert”), said Decembrele. But LinkedIn algorithms can detect keyword stuffing, and the practice could hurt your search optimization instead of helping it.

7. Add a photo — but not just any photo

Adding a photo of yourself will help your profile receive up to 21x more views, 9x more connection requests, and up to 36x more messages, said Decembrele. Not just any photo will do, however. Nearly one-fifth of hiring managers say they’ve eliminated a candidate from consideration because of an inappropriate photo, according to a recent LinkedIn survey. Always make your photo look professional and don’t wear sunglasses, hats or anything that would be inappropriate in an office.

8. Use a simple background

Put the focus in your LinkedIn profile photo on you, Decembrele said. Avoid complex patterns and backgrounds. A plain white background is best, as it helps minimize distractions. (Note: Some career coaches also suggest having your picture taken outside with a green, soft-focus background behind you.)

9. Crop your photo

Make sure your face fills up at least 60 perfect of the frame and crop out other people, especially, say, someone’s arm around your shoulders, said Decembrele.

10. Adjust the pic.

LinkedIn’s photo filters provide a quick way to enhance and crop your photos, Decembrele noted. Using the filters, you can adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and more.

11. Dress for the job you want

Every industry, and company, has its cultural norms regarding what’s appropriate clothing for work, said Decembrele. A good rule of thumb: Look at what the executives or your hiring managers are wearing in their LinkedIn profile pictures. If they’re sporting a button-down shirt and a blazer, you may want to do the same in your profile photo.

12. Don’t hire a professional photographer

Current smartphones have amazing cameras, Decembrele said. Get a friend, partner, or family member to take photos of you with an iPhone or Android phone.

13. Take advantage of your smartphone

Use Portrait Mode on an iPhone or a similar setting on Android phones to blur the background behind you.

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14. Use natural lighting if possible

As long as it’s not harsh (such as direct sunlight on your face) natural lighting is best.

Growing your LinkedIn network and visibility

15. Devote 30 minutes a day

Thirty minutes every weekday of “thoughtful participation” on LinkedIn will help grow your network and visibility, said Igor Kholkin, founder and CEO of digital marketing firm Avidon Marketing Group. During those 30 minutes, comment upon industry-relevant posts and group discussions. Following your favorite companies in your industry and regularly engaging with their posts will help raise your profile with them, he adds.

16. Focus on quality vs. quantity

Don’t waste your time leaving lots of basic comments on posts or discussions, such as “Great article!” or “Well said,” says Wilkinson. You’ll make more of an impression with thoughtful, two-paragraph replies that show you’re qualified to speak on the topic.

17. Connect with current and former employees

Check out the LinkedIn profiles of people who work for companies in which you’re interested, or who used to work there, suggests Todd William, founder and CEO of online reputation management firm Reputation Rhino. Request a connection to those with whom you feel you have something in common.

From there, ask them what it’s like to work there, what they like best about the company, and similar questions. As always, be tactful, considerate and sensible with your questions. The goal is to build contacts at the company where you’d like to work —not alienate people with obviously self-serving behavior.

18. Emphasize giving, not receiving

On LinkedIn, “it’s better to give than receive,” William said. “Shameless self-promotion and solicitation of business is a huge turnoff on LinkedIn. Participate actively in groups by offering advice, suggestions, referrals and recommendations without the expectation of reward or generation of new business for yourself. You’ll quickly earn the trust and recognition of peers and colleagues in your field and be a go-to source when the time is right.”

19. Give recommendations to get them

The same focus on giving and not receiving applies to recommendations. “A great way to increase your chances of getting a recommendation from others is to give them a recommendation first,” said Decembrele. “They’ll be much more likely to return the favor.”

LinkedIn has made requesting recommendations easier, with its “Ask for a recommendation” feature, she adds. When using the tool, add a personal message to your request and suggest what you’d like to be recommended for. (The recommendation request tool is accessible from the Recommendations section of your profile.)

20. Don’t worry about how many connections you have

The total number of connections you have doesn’t influence how likely you’ll show up in search results, said Decembrele. However, you’ll show up higher in search results if you have more mutual connections with the person who’s conducting the search.

21. Show your thought leadership in LinkedIn videos — with subtitles

Appearing in brief, engaging videos posted to your profile, in which you share ideas relevant to your industry, can help you attract attention from recruiters and hiring managers, noted Julia Enthoven, CEO and founder of image and video editing software service Kapwing.

“A video I uploaded to my LinkedIn profile recently got more than 11,000 views,” she said. “That’s 10 times more than the same video got on Facebook.”

She adds that you’ll get more views and engagement on LinkedIn by adding subtitles to the video, enabling people to watch in a public space without headphones or earbuds.

22. Write articles

Writing LinkedIn articles on topics within your expertise is another way to establish thought leadership as well as get found in Google and LinkedIn searches, notes Wilkinson. Such articles “confer credibility and stature to job hunters, differentiate them from their peers, and will be found by recruiters researching candidates,” she said.

23. Know when to post

According to Sprout Social, the best time to post on LinkedIn for maximum engagement is Wednesdays between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Central Time. Other high-engagement times (in Central Time) are Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.; Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

During those times, “people are usually getting ready for work, just starting their day, taking an afternoon break, or going home, so it makes sense that engagement on LinkedIn is high then,” writes Elizabeth Arens in the Sprout Social blog. Not surprisingly, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday often have the lowest levels of engagement on LinkedIn.