How to Create a LinkedIn Profile: Guide and Tips

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Your LinkedIn profile is a dynamic resume. On it, you can highlight your credentials and work experience alongside your achievements and portfolio samples.

[Featured Image] A woman in a maroon shirt sits at a wooden table and works on her LinkedIn profile on a laptop.

LinkedIn is a social networking platform centred on professional experience. Your LinkedIn profile represents your career journey, and you can edit and adjust it as you reach new milestones.

Essentially, your LinkedIn profile is a dynamic resume. On it, you can highlight your credentials and work experience alongside your achievements and portfolio samples. Your profile is also a portal for sharing your expertise through original posts and interactions with other professionals through their posts and updates.

In maintaining an active LinkedIn profile, you may be able to find new job opportunities, network with like-minded professionals, and position yourself as an industry thought leader.

In this article, we’ll offer tips for leveraging your LinkedIn profile as a professional branding tool that tells your unique career story.

Does LinkedIn show who viewed your profile?

LinkedIn shares some profile analytics when you’re logged in to your account, including the number of people who have viewed your profile and how often you appear in search results. You can locate this data by navigating to the section titled “Analytics” on your logged-in profile.

A few factors influence whether you can see who viewed your profile. If you have a free LinkedIn account, you can see who viewed your profile only if your “Profile Viewing Options” are set to show your name and headline or private profile characteristics. Another way is if the person viewing your profile has also selected one of those settings. If you subscribe to LinkedIn Premium, you can see all members who have viewed your profile, regardless of your privacy settings, as long as those members choose to share that information.

To adjust your privacy settings, navigate to your profile settings.


Setting up your LinkedIn profile

You can use your LinkedIn profile to signal what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you hope to achieve throughout your career, telling a complete story about your career journey.

LinkedIn organizes profiles into several sections, each of which offers an opportunity to share a piece of your story. Here, we’ll offer tips for filling out your profile sections.

Complete a Guided Project: Create a Profile and Network on LinkedIn

Profile photo

Your profile photo will appear at the top of your LinkedIn profile and alongside your name and headline in various places across the platform, including search results and beside your posts on the homepage. Your photo is a visual introduction to your entire profile and serves as a digital first impression.

According to LinkedIn, profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed than profiles without a photo, so, it’s worth putting some thought into it [1]. LinkedIn suggests using a clear photo that looks like you, with only you in it, and in which your face takes up at least 60 per cent of the frame. This way, your contacts can clearly identify you from your photo, whether you’ve met them in person already or are meeting them for the first time online.


Just as prevalent as your profile photo, your headline is a brief description of what you do. Your headline will be the first role-related piece of information a person viewing your profile sees. While some people choose to write their current job title into this field, you can define yourself however you want.

Use this field to establish yourself as the type of professional you want to be seen as. For example, if you’re a market researcher at a large advertising firm with a side hustle as a graphic designer, you could use LinkedIn to network with other advertisers. For this, write your current job title in the headline field. Alternatively, if your goal is to expand your graphic design business, you could define yourself as a “data-informed graphic designer” or “graphic designer guided by market research” in your headline.

Tip: Use buzzwords carefully as you craft your LinkedIn profile. Words like “experienced,” “expert,” and “innovative” can be overused across the platform, which flattens their impact. Instead, use the content of your profile to demonstrate your experience, expertise, and innovation.


Background photo

In addition to your profile photo, you can choose a background photo for your profile. Your background photo appears as a banner across the top of your profile. LinkedIn offers some pre-installed background photo options, or you can upload your own. Your background photo doesn’t need to be a photo of you, though it can be. Pick an image that fits into the recommended size parameters of 1584 pixels wide by 396 pixels high.

Use this space to visually set the tone for the story you’ll tell throughout the rest of your profile. For example, if you’re a data analyst, you can choose a background photo featuring clever networking-related visualizations; or if you are a dietician, perhaps you’ll lead with an image of the ingredients for your favourite work-from-home lunch.


Your summary appears under the “About” section in your profile. In this open-ended space, you have a maximum of 2,000 characters (around 300 to 500 words) to introduce yourself to the people visiting your profile.

Think about this section as the introduction paragraph to your career story. Here, you can expand on the title you presented in your headline and show a bit more of your personality, while highlighting your experience, accomplishments, key skills, and career goals. If you’re hoping to attract a certain type of audience to your profile, you can infuse your summary with related keywords so that your profile appears in relevant search results.


The experience section is where you list your work experience. Much like a resume, you can fill in your title, company, location, dates of employment, and description for each role. Additionally, you can add role-related skills and media, such as links to articles, videos, and more.

This section is the body of your career story. Use your experience entries to show how you’ve progressed and grown throughout your career. In describing each role, spotlight your major accomplishments, and consider whether adding media can help illustrate your contributions. For example, if you were the lead UX designer behind a company’s app launch, you may consider attaching wireframe images or screenshots of the final product.

Filling out this section completely and infusing it with relevant keywords can help improve your profile’s searchability.

Tip: LinkedIn doesn’t offer formatting options for the description of your role, so this will default as an open-ended structure. If you prefer to format role descriptions with bullet points, there is a workaround:

- If you’re using a PC, place your cursor in the Description section and press Alt+0149.

- If you’re using a Mac, place your cursor in the Description section and press Option+8.



List your formal education under the education section. For each entry, you can include your school, degree/diploma/certificate field of study, dates attended, and other related activities. You could also add a description—detailing relevant coursework, for example—and attach media.

Similar to listing education on your resume, the more work experience you have, the less detail you’ll need to include in your education section. For example, if you’re a recent graduate, you’ll probably want to leverage the skills you honed and your many achievements from university or college as you network with recruiters and hiring managers. However, if you have a decade of work experience, by this point, your degree likely only appears as a starting point for 10 years of growth.

As you fill out this section, consider the role your education plays at this point in your career story, and add details accordingly.

Licences and certifications

Add your professional credentials to your profile, under the Licences & Certifications section. Here, you can detail the name of your credential, issuing organization, issue date, expiration date (if applicable), and credential ID and URL.

There’s no space to describe your credential in this section, so if you want to highlight this achievement, consider incorporating the achievement into your headline or summary.

If you’ve completed courses on Coursera, you’ll be able to add your certificates to this section.

Additional sections

There are several additional sections you may add to your LinkedIn profile if they’re relevant to your career growth journey. LinkedIn doesn’t limit the length of your profile, so you can add as many as you need to tell your story.

Some additional sections you may want to consider include:

  • Skills

  • Volunteer experience

  • Languages

  • Honours and awards

  • Publications

  • Organizations

  • Supported causes

Is LinkedIn Premium worth it?

LinkedIn Premium is LinkedIn’s paid subscription plan that offers users access to additional data and site features. Profile sections are the same whether you subscribe to LinkedIn Premium or remain a free user.

Whether a subscription is worth it depends on your goals. For jobseekers, a subscription can enable you to send messages to recruiters and hiring managers through LinkedIn, see insights like how you compare to other candidates applying for jobs you’re interested in, and who viewed your profile.

Getting the most out of LinkedIn

Once you’ve finished filling out your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to use it to build your professional network and participate in industry discussions. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Expand your network: Start building your network by requesting to connect with people you know. From there, you’ll be able to identify second-degree connections or people your contacts know and may be willing to introduce you to.

  • Follow people and topics of interest: Stay up to date with industry trends and leaders by following organizations and people relevant to your professional interests to see updates and posts on your home feed.

  • Participate in conversations: Join conversations by reacting to and commenting on posts from people you follow. You may find an interesting conversation or a new contact through the comment section.

  • Share content: You can demonstrate your expertise and insight by sharing original posts, and potentially spark conversations and learning opportunities with others in your field.

Next steps

Add a new credential to your LinkedIn profile with a Professional Certificate from industry leaders like Google, Meta, and IBM on Coursera. Learn in-demand skills for careers in project management, UX design, marketing analytics, cybersecurity, and sales. Sign up for Coursera today for free and gain access to thousands of courses.

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Article sources

  1. LinkedIn. “10 Tips for Taking a Professional LinkedIn Profile Photo,” Accessed November 12, 2022.

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