LinkedIn Professional: Profile Development Tips

by Tiffany Waddell Tate

LinkedIn is a tool for students and alumni to build connections, but frequently, many don’t quite know how to maximize their digital presence online. LinkedIn is one of many tools you can use to create a digital stamp that embodies your personal and professional brand.

If you are curious about how to create or update your profile to make your brand statement clear and noticeable, check out these five tips to make your profile pop today!

Profile Photo

Make sure your photo is a professional headshot. No need to pay for a full photoshoot, but I highly recommend having a friend or colleague snap a photo of you with a solid light-colored or natural background behind you. Once you have a few that you like, crop one to include no more than your mid torso and above. If you are in education or recruiting, you can likely have a bit more fun with your choice of dress in the photo, so let your personality shine through! Profiles with fresh headshots definitely get more traffic than those without.


Instead of writing a boring snippet that just includes your job title (that’s in your experience section anyway!) try thinking of a brief, but creative description of what you do or what you’re particularly adept in. Who are you, independent of your professional title? For example, if you started own your company, instead of saying “CEO of Fran’s Cupcake Company” try “Dessert aficionado with a passion for sprinkles” which will make your profile stand out. If you work in a more traditional or conservative space, however, it is also a good idea to highlight the core skill set or motivation that drives your work. For example, if you work for a creative marketing agency, you might try something like “marketing manager with a keen eye for design.”


While many people think of LinkedIn as an online resume, it’s more than that. The summary section allows you to craft a (brief) statement that tells your story. What are you passionate about? What drives you? Specifically, what are you good at and how does it assist you in making things happen? Are there topics or experiences that you have that contribute to your overall value that may or may not be tied to your current position? Write about it here. LinkedIn tends to come up in the top five results when someone Googles your name, so make every word count!

Vanity URL

Like most social networks and blogs, you have the option within your profile to create a “Vanity URL” which is a shortened web address for your page that fits nicely onto a business card or e-mail signature. Vanity URLs also make your profile easier to find in online search engine results.


I like to think of recommendations as “living references,” because your personal brand is not just what you say about yourself—it includes what others have to say about you, too! Asking colleagues, clients, or former supervisors for LinkedIn recommendations can only strengthen your professional digital presence.

Bonus pro tip: it is better to give than receive! If you ask someone to write a recommendation for you, offer a recommendation in return—or at least send them a thank you note. It’s only proper!

What tips do you leverage to make your profile pop?

Tiffany Waddell Tate, former associate director of career development at Davidson College, is now the associate director of national engagement in the Office of Alumni Engagement at Wake Forest University.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers