LinkedIn Basics

Think of LinkedIn as an online database operating as a professional & social networking site.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and one of the most important ways to connect with alumni, employers, mentors, former colleagues, subject matter experts, and more!

At its core, LinkedIn is a database of professional connections  — but it is also a social networking platform that allows you to strengthen and leverage these connections in your job search and for professional growth.

To leverage LinkedIn networking effectively, you will want to:

  • Personalize your settings 
  • Maximize your profile 
  • Network & Engage with the LinkedIn community

Personalize your settings

LinkedIn lets you personalize your privacy and security settings so that you can control what is seen about you, what information you are shown, and how your data is used. Take time to ensure your settings are optimized for you!

To personalize settings, visit:

Maximize your profile

LinkedIn offers many ways to showcase your experience, interests, and skills. The areas below are the ones we suggest you focus on first when seeking to maximize your profile.

Customize your profile URL

This may seem like a small thing, but the first action we suggest you take is to customize your profile URL to make it a simple variation of your name. This will make it easier for you to list your profile URL on your resume and share with others. After all, your profile is not useful if no one sees it! For instruction on how to customize the URL, visit the LinkedIn help page on this topic.

Add photos

LinkedIn’s research shows that having a profile picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others. Your profile picture tells the world that a real person is being represented. Follow these tips for a great profile picture:

  • Use a high-resolution close-up headshot, with your face taking up to 60% of the frame
  • Use a photo that looks like you
  • Wear what you like to wear to work and professional events 

We also suggest adding a background photo, as this is a great opportunity to add visual interest and showcase your personality/brand. Great backgrounds are often photos of workspace, city skyline or architecture, abstract images, nature, your photo in action (perhaps giving a presentation), or a photo that represents a cause or value.


Your headline is the first line that folks see on your profile— it should entice the reader to click through and learn more about you! Rather than using a default job title, consider getting creative and making your headline a place where you briefly (220 characters or less) showcase your value proposition to the others. Make your headline forward-looking and related to your target career goals: where you want to add value and what skills/strengths do you bring?

Headline styles include:

  • Impact statements (ex. “Creating accessible and delightful UX design solutions”) 
  • List style (ex. “Data science & Healthtech I UC Berkeley Grad Student”)
  • Career changer (ex. “Cybersecurity leader leveraging product + engineering experience”)
  • Job Title (ex. “Product Manager @ Stripe”)


The summary section on LinkedIn is now called your “about” section. This allows you to build on the headline and tell your story, providing a narrative that describes and supports your value proposition. Lean into the ‘social’ aspect of LinkedIn and adopt a friendly, conversational tone (hint: write in the first person!) and do not be afraid to show some personality! You can include information on what motivates you, what you’re skilled at and/or where you are building new skills, what specialities you have, and your professional interests. If you are a career changer, be sure to position this section as ‘forward-looking,’ describing your current career goals first and then connecting them to your background.

  • Do: I am a data scientist who leverages my background in XYZ to do ZYX. 
  • Do not: I am a former XYZ who is seeking to move into cybersecurity.

Top Skills (in about)

LinkedIn is making a strategic shift towards prioritizing skill-based hiring. For example, LinkedIn recruiter has a feature that surfaces job candidates based on relevant skills. Make your skills prominent (and add keywords!) by tagging up to five of your Skills as “top Skills'' which can give others useful context about your skills in an immediate and visual way. If you click through to edit your About section and that will open a window where you can add your Top Skills.


At a minimum, you can ‘copy and paste’ from your resume to full out your experience section. If you have more time, try to make the experience section a bit more concise! Focus on transferable skill sets and include top accomplishments. If you have a significant amount of content under a particular experience, consider adding a summary sentence at the top. You should also take advantage of linking relevant skills to each experience, which may boost your profile visibility in LinkedIn search results.

Don’t forget to include an impactful headline for each experience! Often the default is a job title, but you have up to 100 characters and can add high-impact / relevant keywords that add context. For example, “Job Title – keyword, keyword” or “Job Title – short impact statement.”


Take advantage of your graduate degree by linking your education to UC Berkeley School of Information! Be sure to link to I School (and not only University of California, Berkeley) so that you can stay connected with students and alumni via LinkedIn’s alumni tool.


Projects are optional but can be a very useful way to showcase expertise and experience with new skills, as well as use relevant keywords in a meaningful way. Keep your descriptions for projects short, with perhaps a summary statement and just a few action-oriented and impactful bullets. For each project, link relevant skills to boost your visibility in LinkedIn search. If you collaborated with others in your projects, be sure to add them as contributors! This helps make their contribution more visible and can put you in company with impressive collaborators, expanding your network.

Skills & Endorsements

Make sure you add all relevant skills as you acquire them— remember, you do not have to be an expert to list a skill! You can add up to 50 skills and it’s a great idea to max this section out. Check our list of sample skills/tools on the resume basics page for ideas on skills you could add. Also remember you can reorder your skills - so list them from “skill I most want to use at work” to “skill I want to use the least.”

Network & Engage with the LinkedIn Community

The more active you are on LinkedIn, the stronger your connections will become! Engaging on LinkedIn raises your visibility and helps others see you as part of an industry or career pathway.

Start by growing your network and connecting with the I School community (classmates, faculty/instructors, staff, alumni), guests that you mean at events (e.g., panelists, presenters), colleagues (past and present), and friends. Growing the number of connections you have will increase the number of 2nd degree connections you have and make it easier for you to network.

Beyond growing your connections, you can engage with the LinkedIn community through:

  • Posting relevant content (articles, updates), which appears in your connections’ LinkedIn feeds and adds value. 
  • Resharing posts that you find interesting or impactful. 
  • Showing others that you appreciate their posts by adding a reaction, comments, or questions. 

Last updated:

February 13, 2024