Dear Sam: I never took LinkedIn seriously until a friend of mine was contacted by a recruiter, who saw his profile on LinkedIn, and invited to interview for a well-known company. My profile has all the basics filled out, but it’s still not getting a lot of attention. What can I do to stand out? I want it to look like I really know what I’m doing. –Cody

Dear Cody: The fact that you have a LinkedIn profile is a great first step! But having a bad profile could potentially be worse than not having one at all. You want your profile to reinforce your personal brand and to add credibility to your candidacy. If your profile is bare or outdated, you risk being seen as someone who lacks attention to detail or who isn’t up-to-date with today’s best practices. The more you put into LinkedIn, the more you’ll get out of it. Below are 4 simple tips to improve the look and effectiveness of your profile:

  1. Optimize your profile with keywords

When recruiters search for candidates on LinkedIn, they typically search for profiles with keywords that match their job openings. Incorporating your industry’s most desirable keywords into your profile can mean the difference between being found and remaining invisible. Do some recon—such as reviewing industry leaders’ profiles and reading through job postings—before updating your profile so that you know which keywords are most impactful for your particular market. Feature these keywords throughout your profile, including in your summary, headline, and skills sections.

  1. Use your skills section strategically

LinkedIn allows users to add up to 50 skills to their profiles as a way to showcase unique qualifiers. A user’s first-degree connections can choose to endorse these skills, thereby validating and adding credibility to a user’s claims. This section is valuable real estate and shouldn’t be wasted on skills that are commonplace and carry little weight. Choose to highlight skills that are industry-specific and impactful, such as cloud and distributed computing, statistical analysis, and data-mining skills. A profile with robust skills and numerous endorsements is more likely to be discovered by recruiters.

  1. Reinforce your brand with a background photo

You can easily add more personality to your profile by adding a visually appealing background image. Choose an image that reinforces your brand (such as something with numbers or charts for the financial industry, or something with a computer and keyboard for the digital marketing industry). This simple change immediately freshens up the look of your profile.

  1. Personalize your LinkedIn profile URL

When you first set up your profile, LinkedIn will assign you with a URL that has a string of letters, numbers, and backslashes. If you ever plan to share your profile link (on your resume or in your email signature, for example), it is critical that you customize this URL to something like: To do so, click on “View profile” underneath “Me” on the top menu, and select “Edit public profile & URL” on the top right of your screen.  You will then be able to customize your URL to one that reflects your personal brand.

LinkedIn can be an invaluable resource for job seekers and career professionals, but it requires some time and some cultivation. Your profile should be a direct reflection of the brand you are trying to portray, and it should help attract and impress potential hiring managers (along with potential customers, business partners, colleagues, etc.). By only filling in the basics of each section and not taking the time to strategically craft a compelling, dynamic, and keyword-rich profile, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to brand yourself as an industry leader. LinkedIn offers an array of articles and videos with additional tips about how to create an impressive profile, or check out this Dear Sam Live episode for more information! Good luck, Cody!