It’s a modern designer’s conundrum: trying to squeeze their creativity into a “business” site like LinkedIn. Where’s the font choice? The white space? But the numbers don’t lie: plenty of designers—not to mention both hiring managers and recruiters—are using LinkedIn to make connections and hire for work. It’s a fact, 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find or vet candidates. That’s more than all other social media platforms combined!
If you’re a freelance designer or a designer looking for your next permanent job and you haven’t hopped aboard the bandwagon, you could be missing out.
That’s why we asked three of our top Recruiters/Agents, Beverly Ross, Quinn Sidon, and George Strippoli to give you tips on making a LinkedIn profile that can get you more freelance work or a great permanent job. Collectively they look at hundreds of profiles a week, so there’s no better resource for you (and us) to turn to if you want to know how to build one that captures a hiring manager’s attention.
Here’s what you’ll need to make that happen:
- Appropriate Photo or Image
- Current Status and Contact Information
- Strong Headline with Keywords
- Updated and Relevant Experience
- Linked Resume and Portfolio
- Abbreviated Job Descriptions
- List of Your Skills
- Career Highlights
Read on for hot tips on optimizing your LinkedIn profile to show potential employers how stellar your work really is!
1. Appropriate Photo or Image
You can either choose an image of yourself, your logo, or a piece you think really makes you stand out. Use an image that shows some personality, but please keep it professional. Don’t choose something that would shock or distract a potential client. (As designers, we’re pretty sure you can make that distinction!)
2. Current Status and Contact Information
If you’re looking for work, you need to let people know, not guess. You can easily indicate this now on LinkedIn, and it makes it super clear that to anyone scrolling that you’re on the market.
LinkedIn has its own email system, called InMail, that allows recruiters, hiring managers, and head hunters to contact you on LinkedIn without an introduction, but Beverly Ross pointed out that the system isn’t foolproof. She told us messages might get lost, especially if candidates have them directed to an email address they may not use often or if they are unfamiliar with how InMail works. For that reason, she advises putting your contact information front and center on your profile. This way, someone can easily contact you when they want to talk to you about a job.
"Put your contact information front and center on your profile."
— Beverly Ross, Creative Recruiter
3. Strong Headline with Keywords
The headline is also called “the most overlooked LinkedIn profile section.” Don’t make that mistake. Be sure to develop a keyword strategy and get yourself some serious SEO action. Quinn Sidon told us that while you should use your title “Art Director,” “UX Designer,” etc., if you used more of your skills in that position (illustration, video editing), you may want to mention those in the write up for each. For good keyword action, consider using synonyms (think ‘digital,’ and ‘online’), to help reach a wider audience.
4. Updated and Relevant Experience
When you’re updating your resume and portfolio, don’t neglect your LinkedIn profile. George Strippoli said that a LinkedIn profile says a lot about a person, “If you’re going to use it as a job tool, it has to be intentional, which means up to date. If you left a job six months ago, make sure people don’t think you still work there.” That doesn’t help hiring managers understand what’s going on in your career and could be considered misleading.
5. Linked Resume and Portfolio
You should also absolutely upload your resume and connect your online portfolio to your profile. George told us, “Your LinkedIn profile is just a teaser for hiring managers and recruiters. You want them to go check out your resume and your portfolio, where you can really demonstrate your strengths.”
"Your LinkedIn profile is just a teaser for hiring managers and recruiters."
— George Strippoli, Sr. Recruiter/Talent Agent
6. Abbreviated Job Descriptions
Here’s where LinkedIn may differ from your resume. Quinn cautioned, “For job descriptions, you should only list three to five relevant bullet points per position. That’s what people want to see, along with your deliverables like emails, PowerPoint templates, etc.” He added, “You want to make sure you’re specific about your capabilities as well. If you’re a UI Designer, you’ll want to help guide people to the type of products you work on.”
Beverly added, “When it comes to managing teams, if it’s on your resume, it should be on LinkedIn.” It’s sometimes hard to discern whether someone is a Creative Director in a one-person team or in a large department.
"For job descriptions, only list three to five relevant bullet points per position."
— Quinn Sidon, Recruiting Agent
7. List of Your Skills
If you couldn’t cover deliverables in your job description, here’s the place to make that be seen. The platform boasts a ton of options for you, from HTML email and logo design to UX design and User research. If you don’t see the option listed, then be sure to include it in your job description. Once again, this is your opportunity to hit the SEO keyword lotto—you need to take advantage of it.
8. Career Highlights
Quinn suggested adding your successes and highlights. Many designers aren’t big on metrics, but if you have them, you’ll want to flaunt them. LinkedIn also has an accomplishments section, so be sure to use it for your ADDY, Webby, One Show, or any other award on your shelf!
While LinkedIn does allow you to upload samples, and many blogs still indicate that you should on the platform, all three agreed it isn’t the best use of your time and energy. Beverly also cautioned, “Samples can be distracting to someone looking at your profile. Plus, they can get outdated quickly.” She said the better choice is to make sure your portfolio is kept up to date with your latest work displayed. (Which you do anyway, right?)
There you have it! Now get out there and make your LinkedIn profile work for you! If you need more help getting that next gig, do be sure to check out our Job Search Tips page for tons of helpful video tutorials.