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5 Tips to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile as a Career Changer

General Assembly
September 12, 2022

If you want to start a new career or get promoted, LinkedIn is a great place to start. LinkedIn has become the go-to network for job seekers and recruiters alike. The site boasts over 830 million members worldwide, with over 58 million registered companies, and its user base continues to increase. Yet, despite its popularity, many people struggle to optimize their profiles. This piece shares some helpful tips to improve your LinkedIn profile as a career changer.

Why you need optimization for your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks today. If you want to be seen by potential employers, clients, customers, or partners, you need to optimize your profile. A great way to do this is to leverage keywords and key phrases to help people find you. When you hear “SEO” or “search engine optimization,” you probably think about how well a website ranks on Google. Identifying the right keywords and strategically including them in your profile helps you appear in LinkedIn and Google searches, increasing your chances of being discovered.

With that in mind, let’s look at how you can benefit from an optimized LinkedIn profile.

Top benefits of optimizing your LinkedIn profile

  1. It lets recruiters know you are interested in working for their company. LinkedIn is there to help you build professional connections, network and help you find your dream job. So it only makes sense to optimize your profile as per the career you want to break into. This also helps recruiters pinpoint you as a potential candidate, and they may contact you directly via LinkedIn’s messaging app for any openings.
  1. Your profile will stand out if you apply for a role directly on LinkedIn. According to Penguin Strategies, 89% of recruiters say they’ve hired someone through LinkedIn. An optimized LinkedIn profile can help you succeed as a career changer. Your LinkedIn should essentially be an SEO-optimized digital version of your résume with links to your previous work, such as your portfolio and any other previous work samples.
  1. It helps boost your brand and can allow you to become a LinkedIn creator. As a career changer looking to break into tech, it’s important to show recruiters that you are proactively building your knowledge in the industry. Posting thought-provoking and informative content to your LinkedIn profile shows you have a genuine interest and passion for tech.

    Additionally, if you are sharing content or even creating your own and adding to your profile, it’s worthwhile to turn creator mode on. Turning creator mode on organically enhances your profile’s discoverability as your content will be seen by those interested in the topic.
  1. Learning how to leverage keywords and keyphrases extends to what content you post and media captions. Posting content that contains keywords and keyphrases relevant to your career will automatically bump up your profile on search engines. Another thing to keep in mind is the captions you write to share this content. Leveraging keywords, keyphrases, and even hashtags in the caption will also increase the visibility of your profile on LinkedIn. However, remember not to overuse buzzwords.
  1. Strengthen your networking skills through shared backgrounds and work experiences. An optimized LinkedIn profile will help other career changers discover you easier. To help your peers easily find you on LinkedIn, include descriptive and personalized content for your industry and location, current position, previous work experience, education, skills, and current career status.
  1. Establish lifelong connections and fruitful relationships. Building connections and relationships with the right people on LinkedIn can have a meaningful impact on your career. Engaging with people in the same industry can expose your profile to new recruiters, companies, and connections. A well-optimized profile will more than likely increase your chances of connecting. People want to know up front who you are, what you have to offer, and why they should connect with you.

Top 5 tips to easily optimize your LinkedIn profile as a career changer

LinkedIn can be a powerful self-marketing tool. Knowing the importance of building your professional network is crucial as a career changer. Here are five tips to help make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the rest.

Tip #1: Personalize your profile headline and about section

According to Things Career Related, a LinkedIn headline is 46% more important to prospects than your experience. After all, it is one of the first things a potential recruiter will read on your profile, and first impressions are essential.

Your story is unique to you based on how it’s told — thus, take this opportunity to show it off in your “About” section. According to LinkedIn, your “About” section can be the place where you put your career into context, highlight your most significant achievements, or show off your personality.

Additionally, try using keywords and key phrases in your primary headline, summary statement, and experience section to increase your discovery chances. However, make sure your LinkedIn headline is short and snappy. HubSpot recommends 220 characters or less.

Last but not least, your headline should set the tone for your first impression and include a CTA (call to action) if you’re open to new opportunities. Finally, try updating your profile and URL and adding it to your personal email signature. This is a great yet subtle way to market yourself.

Tip #2: Make good use of your profile and background photo

Your LinkedIn profile picture should represent the professional face of your profile, and your cover photo can be the more personal part of your professional presence. In today’s digital and remote era, a profile picture is essential to your LinkedIn presence. Research shows that a profile picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by other LinkedIn users. Other studies show that 93% of recruiters will look at your profile photo before contacting you.

The key to any good profile photo is that the focus should be true to you. If you don’t have a professional photo at hand, ask your friends or family to take one for you. Here are some things to look out for when taking your LinkedIn profile picture:

  • Make sure you are in a well-lit area with some good natural light.
  • Make sure your face takes up at least 60% of the frame.
  • Make sure you are the only person in the picture.
  • Make sure it’s not a selfie.
  • Show off your natural smile.

When it comes to your background photo, it should reinforce or complement your profile. For example, when you join a company, some will give you a background photo to show you are part of the team. However, as a career changer, it’s essential your background photo communicates your values, skills, and professional identity.

Tip #3: Highlight the skills that matter

Having a solid set of skill sets will improve your profile visibility. Support the theme of your profile by strategically listing new and past capabilities that align with your career change. You might be wondering what type of skills you should highlight on your profile. It’s down to a mix of both soft and hard skills. According to LinkedIn, your soft skills should shine through your biography and profile activity. In contrast, your hard skills should be added to the experience, education, and skills section.

To further underpin your hard and soft skills, tap into your network to help endorse your skills. Skill endorsements on LinkedIn are a great way to build profile credibility. As a career changer, it’s also vital to highlight all the transferable skills you will bring forward to your new job.

Tip #4: Showcase the right experiences

Not every work experience needs to be shared. As a career changer, focus on past jobs with transferable skills and volunteer work that aligns with your personal brand and professional goals.

There are two great ways you can show off your experiences on LinkedIn.

  • Recommendations: When asking for a recommendation, include what you would like the person writing the recommendation to have. This is an excellent opportunity for you to mention some keywords and key phrases to increase your chances of being discovered.
  • Feature: The feature section lets you pin work or achievements you want to highlight at the top of your profile. In this section, we recommend including things like your portfolio, past samples of work like a project, and any achievements/awards.

Tip #5: The right keywords make all the difference

Keywords and keyphrases can make or break your LinkedIn profile. They are a great and simple way of bumping your profile to the top of the recruiter’s list. However, one thing to look out for is to avoid overusing buzzwords. Instead, choosing a healthy mix of keywords and key phrases is best. According to some research, it’s best to go for a total of 3-8 keywords in any content length (anything above eight keywords only applies to content with more than 1500+ words).

Going directly to the source is a great place to start your research when optimizing your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn’s search engine helps streamline the process. The more words you find that make sense, the merrier. Try looking at profiles of experienced professionals in your industry to gauge what keywords they’re using.

To find the best suitable keywords and key phrases to include in your profile, try using a keyword research tool like Semrush, Soovle, or Jaaxy.

If you’re a career changer, your network and news feed will likely reflect connections from past work experiences. Scheduling routine maintenance checks to optimize your LinkedIn profile will keep your current network and new connections up to date with your life as a professional.

Are you interested in learning more tips for career changers? Download our Landing Work You Love Ebook to be equipped with the necessary tools to embark on your job search adventure.

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