How to Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile

5th May 2020


  • 50%-70% of all jobs are filled before they appear on job boards. 
  • A search-optimised and compelling LinkedIn profile is the best way to get head-hunted
  • Read to find the 9 tips to optimise your LinkedIn profile

By Sean Croon, IT Career Coach, CV Writer and LinkedIn Expert

Did you know a recruiter's preferred method of finding candidates is not to advertise? In fact, 50%-70% of all jobs are filled before they appear on job boards. A recruiter finds these people through ‘referrals’ (candidates recommended by someone) or by ‘head-hunting’ (approaching candidates who have not applied for the role).

The best way to get head-hunted is with a search-optimised and compelling LinkedIn profile. One that instantly calls out interview me. Read on for my top nine tips for writing a LinkedIn profile that will help you stand out and get headhunted.

1) Optimise your headline

Your headline is the most important component of your LinkedIn profile. This 120-character line under your name is the main reason your profile will get clicked on by a recruiter, so make it clear why they should do that. I recommend starting your headline with your target job title, then follow that with keywords that highlight your areas of interest, certifications, competencies or specialisation.

Example headline: Available ★ Junior Helpdesk Analyst ★ BSc (Network Engineering) ► CCNA, ITIL, Customer Service

2) Use a professional profile picture

It is essential to have a professional-looking profile photo. On LinkedIn, your photo is like a handshake and the foundation of your first impression. Black and white photos look smart. It’s best to wear corporate attire and never look casual - imagine the CEO was visiting your office for the day and would be sitting next to you. It’s worth the investment in your personal brand to get it taken by a professional photographer.

3) Replace adjectives with measurable data

Anyone can say they are ‘customer-focused, hard-working and an asset for any organisation’. However, because there is no evidence behind these claims, recruiters and managers don’t believe them. To gain trust and be credible, minimise the flowery adjectives and use data-driven personal value propositions that include numbers, dates and lists. This data might include number of years in customer service, when you’ve juggled work and study, or academic achievements. To find out how to create powerful personal value propositions, check out our blog article on the subject.

4) Search optimise relevant keywords

There’s a simple formula known by any LinkedIn resume writer – repeat the keywords that a recruiter would use to search LinkedIn if they were recruiting your target role. The more times you repeat the words the better (but don’t go overboard). To work out what those keywords are, review target job ads, identify the words that are unique/specific to the role, then repeat these words in your most valuable LinkedIn real estate.

5) Leverage your most valuable LinkedIn real estate

The quickest way to increase your profile's search rankings is to put relevant keywords in the most valuable sections of your profile. I understand (although this is unconfirmed by LinkedIn) that the best places to add your top keywords, in order of power, are:

(i) Job Titles

(ii) Headline

(iii) About

(iv) Experience

(v) Education

6) Show discretion

Be careful what company-sensitive information you disclose on your profile. Revealing things like budgets and internal problems tend to be frowned upon, both by past and future employers, and may lead the manager not to trust you.

7) Standout with special characters

LinkedIn only lets you use plain text when writing content, which means you can't use bold, underline, bullet points and colour. The way around this limitation is to search Google for a symbol you'd like to use, then copy and paste it into your profile.

E.g.: Searching Google for “star symbol”, results in ⋆ ✢ ✥ ✦ ✧ ❂ ❉ ✱ ✲ ✴ ✵ ✶ ✷ ✸ ❇ ✹ ✺ ✻ ✼ ❈ ✡✮.

8) Perfect spelling and grammar

If you want a recruiter to read your profile and think you are careless, with poor grammatical skills and a lack of attention to detail, include spelling and grammatical mistakes in your LinkedIn. Honestly, it can be that bad and get your instantly rejected. Double and triple check your LinkedIn profile content using grammar/spelling checkers, then get 1-2 friends who have excellent grammar skills to check it for you.

9) Grow your network

It looks good if you are connected to people in the industry. In fact, the more the better because it shows a hiring manager or recruiter that you “hang in the right circles”. The goal is to get 500+ connections so your LinkedIn connections counter hits its limit.

Before you start blasting everyone with invitations, be aware LinkedIn will give you a warning, then put restrictions on your account if you invite too many people who say they don’t know you. I suggest first uploading your phone and email address books to LinkedIn to get started. Then when you do send a stranger a LinkedIn invitation, add a custom message (with perfect spelling and grammar) highlighting something you have in common with them (for example, industry or profession).


LinkedIn is used by almost every recruiter everyday to find and assess candidates. When you apply for a job, your CV will usually be cross-referenced against your LinkedIn profile. If you have a great LinkedIn, you will standout against other candidates and it may even lead to you being headhunted by recruiters. Take the time and make your LinkedIn great. It is worth it if you want to secure a great job.


About the Author
Sean is a Career Coach and CV/LinkedIn Writer who specialises in helping professionals in technology and telecoms build their careers and find great jobs. His background includes nine years in IT recruitment and six years as an IT specialist career development practitioner. Connect with him on LinkedIn or check out his CV writing and career coaching services at