LinkedIn Profile Formatting Tips

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You have just six seconds to make a good first impression on a recruiter through your LinkedIn profile. Studies show that recruiters spend just that long and no longer on each resume, and your LinkedIn profile is no different. A clean, easy-to-read format is critical.

Itemize Key Information

A list with bullet points is easier to scan and comprehend than an unbroken series of sentences. Recruiters won’t waste precious seconds trying to untangle complex paragraphs. They'll skip to the next profile.

There are two ways to add a bullet point to a LinkedIn document:

  • Copy and paste the bullet points from a document already created in word-processing software.
  • Create a bullet point directly on LinkedIn. If you use Windows, hold down the alt key and type 0149 on the keypad. Release the alt key and the bullet point will appear. On a Mac, press Alt + 8 on the keyboard.

Avoid Large Blocks of Text

Large text blocks are difficult to read in any medium and truly tedious to read on a phone or tablet screen. Keep your paragraphs short. Trim your content to only what is relevant or interesting. Read and re-read your words to make sure that the language is concise and there's no repetition.

Use Symbols to Add Emphasis

Bold or italicized text are not supported on LinkedIn, but a variety of symbols can be used to draw attention to major points and to break up the text. Use them sparingly if at all.

Put Your Most Relevant Credentials on Top

You can rank your profile sections in any order, so put the information that is most useful for the kind of job you're pursuing at the top. For example, if you are working in a restaurant but have taken web design courses on the side, and you want a job as a web designer, put the information about those courses first.

Include Media

If you can do this well, it will give you an edge. At least it will show how savvy you are about technology tools.

Video or images make your profile more visually appealing and can be used to show samples of your work. These can be attached only in certain places, including the summary, experience, and education sections.

Don't go overboard with media, though. Remember that six-second attention span that recruiters are reported to have.

Choose a Background Image

This is an extra feature you can add to make your profile stand out from the competition. If you’re a business owner or you run your own website, consider one that features your product, logo, or special subject. An image of you speaking at an event will identify you as an expert in your field.

Showcase Consulting or Freelance Work

LinkedIn is as important for freelancers and the self-employed as it is for full-time job hunters. Jeremy Schifeling, who formerly worked at LinkedIn but now has his own business, points out that you need to impress a wide variety of people when you work with many clients.

“Every time you want to win business," he says, "you can bet that they are going to check you out, look you up and maybe come across your LinkedIn, and every time they do the profile is going to work for you.”

Whether you're looking for a full-time job or a new freelance client, don't play down your freelance credentials look impressive. Avoid lumping all those credentials together into one section. Create a separate experience listing for each client, detailing what you accomplished for each. Add links, media samples, and testimonials to bolster your case.

Hide the “People Also Viewed” Box

This box displayed on your sidebar lists LinkedIn members who possess similar skills and experience as yourself and thus might also be of interest to recruiters. When you keep it, you are basically inviting people to go look at the competition. The good news is that you can easily remove this box by clicking on LinkedIn Privacy & Settings.