Thursday, June 20, 2024

Top 10 Tips To Craft A LinkedIn Profile That Recruiters Love, According To 100 Hiring Professionals

Joseph Liu

1. Photos: Upload Professional Images

What are the characteristics of a good headshot? Does customizing your background banner photo make a difference?

Two primary photos create the initial personal branding people see when visiting your profile: your profile photo and your background banner photo. Make sure to use a professional profile photo.

First, upload a current picture of yourself. You should absolutely include your face on your profile. The lack of a profile photo tends to create a negative impression with recruiters. “The absence of a photo on LinkedIn in some cases can cause distrust for a particular account,” says Oleksandra Syzonets, a recruiter at She says that when a headshot is missing, some employers may question if a real person is behind a profile.

Emma Lindberg, recruiting manager at IT staffing agency Advantis Global agrees that headshots make a big difference to recruiters trying to differentiate between real and fake accounts. “Real accounts are likely to have their background images personalized without stock photos,” Lindberg says.

Second, the photo should be an actual headshot. “Avoid using full-body shots or a photo that looks like a selfie or includes a cluttered or busy background,” says Stacey Mallory, managing director at Altis Recruitment. The photo should ideally not be cropped from another photo because it rarely conveys the same level of professionalism as a solo headshot from the shoulders up.

Third, your headshot should feel professional. “There’s a delicate balance [between] having a profile picture that represents your character or personality while still maintaining some professionalism,” says Trent Cotton, senior global director of talent acquisition at Hatchworks. While you may want to have your personality come through, the picture should still be business focused according to Maciej Kubiak, Head of People at PhotoAiD. “LinkedIn is not Facebook, so the profile picture needs to be business-related,” Kubiak states.

Lindberg does concede that those in the arts, design, or fashion can potentially break away from the typical ‘business professional’ standards of wearing neutral groomed hair, makeup, and formal clothing. “However, across all industries, a clear, well-lit photo is the minimum standard of a good headshot,” she says.

Finally, the image should be high quality. Mallory suggests always using a professional headshot that offers a clear, well-lit view of your face. “Anything that looks amateur or DIY can be a turn-off for recruiters.” These days, you can take a high-quality picture with most phone cameras in a bright room against a neutral background.

“The most important thing is to have a flattering, professional picture,” says Arno Markus, a former recruiter and founder of iCareerSolutions. “This doesn't mean you need to go out and get a studio headshot, but you want to make sure that the photo is recent, well-lit, and shows you at your best.”

Customizing your background photo is helpful, but not mandatory. Behind your round profile photo sits the rectangular banner image area that appears as a plain grey box by default, but can also be customized. Most recruiters I connected with stated that customizing your background image can be helpful but not absolutely required.

“Having any photo, whether it is a background or a headshot, is a form of self-branding. First impressions are 100% real, and those two images are the first thing people see when they visit someone’s profile,” says Piotr Sosnowski, head of HR at hiJunior. “A background photo is not a must. Some of our best employees didn’t have one during their recruitment process, but it definitely helps recruiters understand what type of person you are.”

According to other recruiters though, while customizing your LinkedIn background image doesn’t hurt, it may not necessarily help either. “Background images don’t really make too much of a difference when you’re being sourced by a recruiter since they are most likely viewing your profile from the LinkedIn Recruiter view, which does not show the background image,” says Weronika Pajdak, talent acquisition manager at Mighty.

2. Headline: Highlight Unique Skills

What's your view on candidates saying “Ex-[company name]”? What should candidates include in a headline?

Your headline is one of the first parts of your profile someone will see, so it deserves some extra attention. “When we run a search on our LinkedIn Recruiter account, the first thing that shows up underneath your name is your headline,” says Pajdak. “More importantly, it’s the only part of your profile in that search view that doesn’t get cut off by a See All button. It’s literally a recruiter's first introduction to your experience and a great place to make yourself stand out,” she says.

Selectively Articulate Your Unique Value

Use the 220 characters available in your headline statement to specifically and selectively highlight the title, skills, or areas of expertise for which you want to be known. Margaret Buj, a senior talent partner at Mixmax, shared a few useful frameworks to optimize your headline for keyword searches:

1. Role | Specific achievement

  • B2B Inside Sales Rep | $2.4MM generated in 2020
  • Digital Ads Manager | 5 Years Experience Managing 7-figure ad budgets

2. Role | Years of experience in industry | Fun fact

  • Human Resources Manager | 10+ Years of People Experience |Disneyland Annual Passholder

3. Role | Helping ___ (type of company) do ___ (result)

  • Social Media Manager | Helping software start-ups manage and grow their social media to drive more sales

4. Role | specializing in _____, _____ and _____

  • Content Marketing Strategist specializing in press releases, blog content, and social media

The vast majority of recruiters don’t prefer the use of Ex-Company. “I'd advise against using ‘ex-[Company]’ in the headline because a recruiter will be reviewing the candidate's whole profile anyway,” says Mallory. “Use your Headline to list your job title, skills or areas of expertise rather than using an ambiguous line.” Nathan Deily, chief people officer at nth Venture agrees. “Ex-Company does a candidate no favors in my book. Any recruiter or hiring manager who's paying attention will see that the candidate worked those places without them bragging about it in a headline,” Deily says.

Note, a small minority of recruiters felt there could be some upside to mentioning your former organization in the headline. “Having a well-known company name in the headline gives me the impression that the candidate has already been vigorously screened and may be very capable of delivering quality projects,” says Lindberg. Although she doesn’t prefer to see “Ex-Company” in a headline, Sosnowski states some recruiters and hiring managers will hire someone who worked at a well-known company rather than someone with similar skills from a lesser-known company.

Nima Mirpourian, a former recruiter and CEO of Will Be Live says candidates should ultimately focus on crafting a headline that highlights their unique skills, experiences, and accomplishments. “Stating you worked for a well-known company does not provide any specific information about your experience or skills,” Mirpourian says.

3. Summarize Your Unique Value

How long should this be? What's the ideal scope of info captured? Err on the side of brevity. Most recruiters prefer candidates to get straight to the point about their professional ambitions, personal brand, and unique skillset in no more than two paragraphs. Mallory believes the About section on LinkedIn is one of the most important. “It's a career synopsis or professional summary of a resume. In one succinct paragraph, candidates should summarize the types of industries they've worked in, areas of expertise, projects they are proud of, and key deliverables.” Mallory states this section also offers a glimpse into a candidate’s writing style.

Selectively Highlight Non-Work Interests

While the About section should be primarily focused on your professional life, selectively highlighting personal interests can help humanize your profile. “Your summary doesn't need to be entirely focused on your work,” says Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP of strategy and growth at Resume Worded. “A couple of details about your interests and activities outside of the office will help you seem more relatable and personable,” she says.

End With An Invitation

Markus also recommends including a clear call-to-action at the end of your summary. “Let people know what you’re looking for and how they can get in touch with you,” he recommends. For example, the call-to-action could be an invitation to contact you, visit your website, or check out a certain resource of yours.

Read all 10 Top Tips and the complete Forbes article




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