Published: June 8, 2021

LinkedInDid you know about 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn as part of their candidate search? If you haven’t joined LinkedIn yet, now is a great time to create your profile. LinkedIn is the world’s most popular professional social media network, with more than 690 million users, 50 million companies and 20 million job postings. It is a powerful tool for students who are preparing to graduate and start the next exciting chapter of their lives.

While LinkedIn makes it intuitive to fill out your profile, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of being noticed. Here are some tips for optimizing your profile.


Describe who you are and the kind of role you are seeking. Left unchanged, your headline defaults to your current position. Recruiters search LinkedIn by keyword, so mention a specific job title. Examples of headlines with keywords include “Creative entry-level digital marketing professional seeking full time opportunity” or “Water & Wastewater Scientist | Grant Writer | Speaker | Research Translator | Advocate.”

The keywords and skills you use in your headline can influence recruiter search algorithms. Look at a few job listings to help inform your wording. Be sure to highlight the skills you wish to associate with your professional brand.


A profile photo is necessary if you want to be competitive with other candidates. Choose a clear headshot with a simple background, and ideally a photo that shows you smiling and dressed professionally for the standards of your field.

If you want anonymous feedback on how your photo is perceived by others, try out Photofeeler. This free online tool analyzes your photo and gives scores and notes on perceived competence, likeability and influence.


Your summary is not just a place to highlight your achievements. Instead, put them in the context of your career motivations. Share what excites you the most in your field of interest. Give readers a sense of what a person or company can expect when they work with you. For example, if you are seeking employment in the tech industry, you could say, “In addition to my passion for technology, I also enjoy sharing knowledge and resources. Colleagues often tell me I’m their ‘go to’ person for advice when they hit a snag on projects.”


Detail your current and past positions and experience. You can use bullet points directly from your resume. Keep your job titles accurate to and descriptive of your work, and tweak them to reflect common terminology in your field. Include any relevant projects from your coursework. Succinctly describe the project, your role, the actions you took and the results.

Feel free to incorporate some keywords as well. An easy way to decide which keywords you should focus on is to review a few job postings for the kind of work you’re seeking. Notice which skills, knowledge or types of experience are repeated across postings and make sure to include that wording in how you describe your work.


Recommendations carry weight with recruiters and boost your profile in searches. As you’re building out your profile, consider reaching out to a few current or past colleagues. Propose that you write a short recommendation for each other to round out your online brand.

More tips to build out your profile

Recruiters focus on people they think are most likely to accept a position. Here are a few more things you can do to catch their attention:

  • Under the “Jobs” tab, make sure you toggle the switch to indicate you are open to new opportunities. Also, indicate the cities to which you’d be willing to relocate.
  • Customize your URL for a clean look when listed on your resume, and as another way to build your brand (e.g. johndoe-seattle-grants). Your LinkedIn URL is automatically assigned to you, but you can change it. From your profile page, go to “Edit public profile & URL” in the top right.
  • Build your connections! Generally, you should only request and accept connections from people you know. 
  • In the “Interest” section, follow organizations and professionals you are interested in.

With a few strategic considerations and smart tweaks, your profile will be sure to catch a recruiter’s attention. 

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