What Is a LinkedIn Profile?

Discover how your profile can advance your job search and your career

An image of a LinkedIn profile on a computer screen.

A LinkedIn profile is simply a dedicated page on LinkedIn.com where a user can provide and publish professional information about himself or herself.

What LinkedIn Profiles Are Used for

User profiles are a big component of many social networks, including LinkedIn. But what makes LinkedIn profiles any different? LinkedIn profiles are used to showcase your professional experience, achievements, praise and more. Depending on users' privacy settings, their profile information may be viewable only to people they've connected with or it may be viewable to anyone.

Although it shares many similarities with other social networking profiles—such as Facebook profiles—its layout and content sections are optimized for featuring content related to a user's professional career and interests.

LinkedIn profiles are like virtual resumes. People look at them to find out where you currently work, where you've worked in the past, where you went to school, what your skills are and other facts about your professional career. And just as you might expect, LinkedIn profiles can even be used to apply for jobs.

How to Add Content to Your LinkedIn Profile

Once you've signed up for a Basic (free) or Premium LinkedIn account, you can begin building your profile. If you're new to the platform, LinkedIn might take you through a walkthrough of getting the main parts of your profile set up.

You can access your profile any time to view or edit it by selecting Me at the top of LinkedIn.com followed by selecting View profile. On the LinkedIn mobile app, tap your profile photo icon in the top left followed by View Profile.

A screenshot of LinkedIn.com.

Your profile will be displayed in a layout similar to how it's displayed when published on the web, however you'll see several edit options across your profile. Pay attention to:

The pencil icon: Selecting this allows you to edit the section by changing, deleting or adding content.

The list icon: This appears when you hover your cursor over a content section (on LinkedIn.com only) and allows you to drag and drop them to reorder them.

The plus sign icon: This allows you to add new blocks of content to your profile.

A screenshot of LinkedIn.com.

To save time from having to scroll down your entire profile, you can add new content to your profile by selecting the blue Add profile section button on LinkedIn.com directly beneath your profile photo. It will display a dropdown list of all the main sections and subsections of content you can add.

LinkedIn Profile Sections

You can share as much or as little information about your professional life on your LinkedIn profile as you want. Some people keep their profiles simple while others take full advantage of all the sections and fill out everything they can.

The sections you can put on your LinkedIn profile include:

Intro

Edit this section by selecting the pencil icon in the top right of your profile, to the right of the profile photo and beneath the header photo.

  • Profile photo
  • Header photo
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Headline
  • Current position
  • Education
  • Country/Region
  • ZIP code
  • Locations within this area
  • Industry
  • Contact info (Profile URL, Email, WeChat ID)
  • Summary

Background

  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Volunteer experience

Skills

  • Add up to 50 individual skills: (Examples include Social Media Marketing, Research, Public Relations, Writing, etc.)

Accomplishments

  • Publications
  • Certifications
  • Patents
  • Courses
  • Projects
  • Honors & Awards
  • Test Scores
  • Languages
  • Organizations

Additional Information

  • Recommendations

Supported Languages

  • Profiles in other languages

To restrict your profile information from being viewable to just anyone, consider configuring your privacy settings by selecting Me > Settings and Privacy. Beside Edit your public profile, select Change. You'll be shown a preview of what your profile looks like to the public. Use the visibility options in the righthand column to customize which sections you want to hide from the public. If you don't want any public visibility, you can turn the blue Your profile's public visibility button to Off.

The Benefits of Having a LinkedIn Profile

Even if you don't plan on spending lots of time on LinkedIn, setting up a profile and leaving it there is often better than not having one at all. Here are just a few great benefits you can expect from having a LinkedIn profile:

An Instant Resume for Applying to Jobs

In addition to being able to use your profile to apply to job ads listed on LinkedIn, you can also generate a PDF file from it so you never have to create or update a separate one for non-LinkedIn job ads. Just select More... > Save to PDF to create a professional looking resume straight from your LinkedIn profile that you can use to apply to apply to jobs practically anywhere.

A screenshot of LinkedIn.com.

Passive Exposure to Other Professionals

Other professionals (including employers looking to hire) might find your profile through searches or through their connections. If they like what they see on your profile, they might reach out to you with a good opportunity.

A Tool for Networking

Having a LinkedIn profile can help you network with the right types of professionals. Viewers can skim your profile and decide within as little as a few seconds whether you're a good match to network with.

A Place to Feature Media, Links and Recommendations

Standard resumes typically don't go beyond written words, but with a LinkedIn profile, you can upload relevant media files (such as images, videos or documents) and link to URLs on the web for each position listing you put under your Experience section.

A screenshot of LinkedIn.com.

You can also supercharge your credibility by requesting recommendations from colleagues you've worked with and are connected to on LinkedIn. These will appear as written statements of endorsements along with the name, profile photo and profile link of the person who gave it.