LinkedIn Cheat Sheet

LinkedIn Cheat Sheet: 5 Tips For A Professional Profile


Who has time to research LinkedIn? We know you have a busy life – and sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day to scan through articles to get the information you need.

That’s why we created the LinkedIn Cheat Sheet! We pulled the best tips, tricks, and advice from our archives and put them all in one place just for you.

LinkedIn Cheat Sheet

Here are five solid LinkedIn tips from our experts:

1. Turn Off Your Activity Broadcasts

Before you start “tinkering” with your LinkedIn profile (or hiring a professional to enhance your profile), please take a minute to do the following:

  • From the drop-down menu next to your name on the right side of the Home page, choose Settings.
  • On the bottom left of the Settings page is a column titled Privacy Controls. Immediately under that heading is a hyperlink that reads “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts.”
  • Click on the activity broadcasts link and a dialog box will open giving you an option to choose who will see your activity updates.
  • If the box is checked to “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies,” uncheck it.

When you are finished tinkering, go back and recheck the box. It’s that simple!

(Original Article: “Pay Attention To Your LinkedIn Settings“)

2. Endorse Your Connections

Every Monday, take 10 minutes out of your morning to pay-it-forward by endorsing 10 people in your LinkedIn network. Imagine how you would feel if in your inbox on a Monday (a.k.a the day of the week when even the most cheerful people struggle to get going), you found endorsements of your skill sets from your peers.

(Original Article: “LinkedIn Quick Tip: Monday = ‘Endorse Day’”)

3. Get Recommendations… Lots Of ‘Em

Recommendations are essential to you. Seek them proactively and seek them passively. Proactive recommendation seeking involves reaching out and asking someone to recommend you. Passive recommendation seeking involves recommending someone, at which point LinkedIn asks them to recommend you back. The latter is actually a bit more effective.

(Original Article: “10 Things To Immediately Do On LinkedIn“)

4. Choose An Appropriate Photo

The following 11 tips will help you pick the right photo for your LinkedIn, Gmail, Google+, Skype, and other online accounts:

  1. Don’t use an old photo. There are few things worse than meeting someone for the first time and not recognizing them because the profile photo is from 10 years ago (or longer)!
  2. Use a photo of YOU in your profile — not an object.
  3. Smile! Your face should radiate warmth and approachability.
  4. Photos should be professionally done, if possible (but not glamour shots).
  5. Wear your most complementary color. Bright colors can attract attention, but avoid patterns.
  6. Don’t have other people in your photos (and don’t crop other people out of your shot — there should not be any errant body parts in your online photo!).
  7. Make sure the background in the photo isn’t distracting.
  8. Relax. Look directly at the camera.
  9. Take multiple shots and ask people for their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
  10. Tips for Men: Wear a dark blue or black dress shirt. No t-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, or busy/crazy patterns.
  11. Tips for Women: Wear something you feel comfortable in. No t-shirts or big/busy patterns. Soft, dark v-necks look great. Black always works; avoid white.

(Original Article: “11 Tips For Choosing Your LinkedIn Photo“)

5. Give Your Professional Headline A Boost

Use the “|” to divide your text and create visual breaks.

Example: Which of the following is easier to read?

Project Manager Specializing in Business Research and Analysis for Major Corporations


Project Manager | Research & Analysis Specialist | Fortune 1000 Business Experience

Obviously, the second one is easier to read and comprehend because of the formatting. The vertical lines separate the data and enable the reader to comprehend better what you are telling them you do.

(Original Article: “LinkedIn Quick Tip: Tweaking Your Professional Headline“)

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Ariella Coombs

Ariella is the Content Manager for CAREEREALISM. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Follow her @AriellaCoombs or find her on Google+.


  1. Thank you for the tips and advice, they are greatly appreciated. I really like the part about separating statements with I between each statement. I had actually never thought of that before. I do try to endorse others as much as possible, and when I have been endorsed I try to as quickly as is possible return the favor. I think its just common courtesy. :)
    Pam DeSantis

  2. Very helpful, but I’m worried: I heard from someone in IT that even though you check the boxes to “hide” your profile, it STILL shows up…does the option to hide it REALLY work???

    • Kathy, make sure you change all three of these in “privacy/settings”:

      1. Make sure your activity broadcast is shut off.

      2. Make sure your activity feed is shut off

      3. Make your connections viewable only to you

      I learned the hard way activity feed & broadcast are two separate things (still not sure exactly how). And after a friend sent me an e-mail saying “you connected to three recruiters in 24 hours….hmmmmm” I shut off my connections as well. I was angry to find out that when I made a new connection THAT still showed up in my activity feed (or broadcast?), I had to make my connections private.

      Once you’ve made those changes tell a few trusted friends to be on the alert then make some a couple of meaningless changes to test it out, like join a few alumni groups or something.

      Lastly, a hint for fleshing out your profile on the sly (which I may even have read in this article, no time to go read back to be sure) ….start w/the bottom/your first job. Add a few lines at a time, days apart. Before you know it it’ll be filled in and no one will have noticed that you were making changes.

    • Teddy Burriss (@TLBurriss)

      Kathy – What ever you put on your profile, hidden or not, can be seen by recruiters. They pay to have full access to all profile data. regarding Jane’s info below – yes you can hide your connections and your activity; however the more you hide, the less value you’ll get from LinkedIn. Be smart and connect broad and varied, and not just to recruiters. Also – the moment you add any positions, this will be broadcast and/or add to your activity feed, regardless of how much info you put in each section. I like Jane’s idea for employed folks – turn off the broadcast & activity feed until you have a decent profile – then turn it back on.

  3. Although I welcome endorsements and recommendations, I prefer them from people I know and/or have worked with. I’m very uncomfortable with the invitation to ‘return the favour’ and approving peoples skills, knowledge and experience whom I’ve never met.

    • Teddy Burriss (@TLBurriss)

      I agree Paul – No one should “dole” out endorsements and recommendations without clearly being able to say to anyone, “The person I recommended or endorsed did this task or project for me/my business and did it well.”

      Furthermore, the whole idea of reciprocating seems bizarre to me as well.

  4. I have long campaigned against LI adding photos.

    First, as others have said, it invites discrimination.

    Second, it makes LI more like Facebook. Really, is this the goal? What’s next, poking?

    Third, speaking especially for myself, I am unattractive. No one who knows me can honestly disagree. I am not handsome, and its ok, however, getting back to the discrimination angle, I am judge by my looks before anyone reads my qualifications. That’s simply wrong.

  5. The rule was that photos on a resume were never to be included, but now with LI, they are basically required. Seems to me that this opens the door for discrimination.

  6. What are thoughts on the Endorsements where you just click the area a person is an expert in?

    Personally I think this is a Linked IN joke. It’s kind of like stars on a football players helmet.

    I get these endorsements from people that I can’t even remember how we linked. The reason for this is when people say things like, “Endorse 10 people a week”.

    An endorsement that spells out what a person has done or could do is a lot more sincere and valuable. Also as you pointed out, this is the most effective way to get an endorsement back.

    • The only benefit of endorsements is the “feel good” when someone, even accidentally, endorses you. However, when you purposely endorse someone for real honest skills that you are capable of speaking too, this adds a higher level of feel good to that person.

    • I agree all this endorsement business is insane. I get the same on FaceBook. I mean for me an endorsement indicates that I feel comfortable that that person who is wanting the referral is outstanding for me I would never refer a friend or other person to a professional put a stamp of approval on someone who i did not know. This is not the truth for i do not know these people. This is dishonest and unethical and could harm another. I do know a lot of professional people and i know some of them should not be doing whatever it is that is what is claimed be the area of expertise. Would someone tell a friend or loved one to go see this person or that person if that person had been endorsed on Linkedin or Facebook or other places??? Of course not. And what i hate is when that person has not even wanted to have some mutual connection going all over linkedin and FB begging for LIKES or endorsements i find this pathetic and disgusting to be blunt. I have thought of deleting these accounts unhelpful and just want to me to fork over a lot of $$$$$ for all sorts of claims of what can be done to help me all total HORsESH–…insincere. And on FB this lunatic idea of letting me know when it is the birthdai of some ‘friend’ so i MUST wish them a wonderful time…double horsesh–..i got work to do and even this rant is a total waste for me and now will show up on a google search so i quit if now right now as it is bed time for me then tomorrow i am sick and tired of google and fB and Linedin and i got a job i work for me and if i need another one i can get one without all thnis social crappola where everone in the whole wide world has access to all sub atomic particles of MiE since i was born. F— this i am GONE and to be sure i dont need ani of this …i feel better alreadi i shall sleep well tonight..Farewell if u are smart u will depart 2!!:)

      • Overly long, but I get the gist.

        No matter what you think of the endorsements, it’s up to the endorser to pick the right ones, but it should be up to the endorsee to accept from people that can attest to it. I’d say it’s something that LinkedIn has to refine a bit.

  7. Awesome Profile Tips. I signed up for access to the video too. Now I want to give my Professional Headline a boost.

    How can I connect with you on LinkedIn?

  8. Just curious about the profile picture. I actually work as a Career Development Coach for High School and College students. I presented 3 different profile pictures and asked them which one they felt would encourage them to work with me.

    It happened to be the one that was the most casual. They said it showed I was a down to earth person as well as living my dream, which is what I want to inspire them to do.

    Who should your profile picture and or profile attract?

    • Karyn, I believe that depends on who you want to target. Since you are working with young adults, it probably makes sense to use a photo which will help you succeed in your current position. However, if at any point you find yourself job searching, you may want to change the photo to a more professional image.

  9. What a wonderful article and comments to find on my first exploration of this resource! Thank you – need to know information!

  10. About getting endorsements. I always recommend my contacts, no matter what…but what’s sad is I ask for a simple endorsement and I get shot a nasty email from a former contact saying that “I don’t think this is very appropriate to be soliciting for these”, as if I was almost trying to sell them a used car! So of all the contacts I have, only two have endorsed me. Is it unethical to ask for an endorsement?

    Yet these tips are a God-send. Thank you for the advice!

    • Albert – you can ask for recommendations and endorsements in LinkedIn anytime you want. You should also give recommendations and endorsements when you want as well.

      However – be very deliberate about these activities. Ask for recommendations from people who you “provided a great service or value to.”

      I suggest you send recommendation requests that look something like this –

      “Hi {customer/client/boss/supervisor/manager/peer}. I did this project {name it} for you and/or your company. I completed the project {example -under budget and with great success}. Will you write a recommendation for me regarding this project?”

      Think, specific projects/tasks and benefit/value when asking for a recommendation, to a single person.

      Regarding endorsements, be specific as well. Ask for Endorsements to specific individuals who will happily stand up and say, “Dang right, Albert is the MAN when it comes to “Skill XYZ”

      Lastly, you should only give recommendations and endorsements when you can say the same thing of the person you are recommending or endorsing.

      Do this, and you should never be denied a recommendation or endorsement.

      Good luck to you sir.

    • I am a Career Coach at a community college. ANYone that is operating in the modern world understands about the online presence needed in the job market. Ignore those dinosaurs, and keep right on asking for recommendations. The recruiters that I work with use two things to hire: an honest/confidential relationship with the referring person and a LINKEDIN PROFILE to appraise. Most are using LI exclusively!

      Next time those people that you asked for a favor need something…don’t even think about reciprocating.

      They’re too lazy to wrtie 3 sentences? They think they’re too important? Too selfish to…

      • Chris,
        Great tips…I’m beginning to see just how important it is to be connected with Linkedin and really need help with my profile as it will reflect my image. Any pointers?

      • More often, I think the interfering factor is one that is cropping up a lot in the job market at large: avoiding legal exposure.

        Giving a recommendation is similar to giving a reference, except it’s not point to point, it’s broad exposure.

        Personally, I think it’s a boat-load of malarkey… you always take on some element of risk when you hire someone, and no amount of references will allay that. Treat it as a gamble, and let the chips fall as they may.

  11. Very good information. I am new to the profile ad need to learn all the small details.

    Does it matter if you photo is a close up with no back ground?

    • HI, as long as it’s a recent picture of you and business-like, then it will be fine. Take a look at most the LinkedIn pictures that people submit.

  12. I have just been too busy to do endorsements and then you forget but it is a great way to make others feel good and to start off the week, awesome tips

  13. Well done! To the point, useful and informative. Notice you are a “recent grad”, thanks for sharing so us “not so recent grads” can stay current!

  14. Something to think about…..if do not make your connections private, new connections will STILL show up in your activity broadcast, even if you’ve implemented the above two tips. I connected to three recruiters in one day, and a friend texted me to say “ummm….job hunting?” Why yes I am, how did you know? Great!

  15. Endorsements are quickly becoming meaningless on LinkedIn, Notes of Recommendation are much more valuable. Enfdorsements have cheapened LinkedIn as “friends” have on Facebook. I don’t know some of the people from whom I’ve received endorsements. Ask them for a Recommendation instead of an endorsement.

    • I agree, Rick. I strive to delete endorsements from people who don’t know me and/or who have no idea that I have the skill that they endorsed. I also strive to request recommendations that are specific and valuable to my profile / current business.

  16. I wonder why you want to turn off broadcasts of your activity when you are “tinkering” with your profile.

    Would there be any benefit in “dripping” in the LinkedIn Stream when you add a Skill, Experience, Volunteer activity, new LinkedIn Application, change your headline or anything else that shows an improved LinkedIn Profile?

    The Activity broadcast does not report spelling corrections or general word changes.

    • Teddy,

      I think the idea is if you are actively searching for work, and you don’t want your boss to find out, turn off your broadcasts so you can privately bring your profile up to date.

      If you are not looking for work, but just updating photo or adding a new skill to your skill set, then I don’t think you need to worry about turning off your broadcast.

  17. Excellent advice! I especially agree your photo is very important on your LinkedIn profile since this is the first impression people have of you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *