Climb the Ladder

The Language of LinkedIn: What You Can Do to Stand Out

Did you know that at least 87 percent of employers use LinkedIn to recruit talent and at least three people get hired from the platform every minute? As a young professional, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re missing out!

That said, just having a LinkedIn account isn’t enough. You must make yourself visible through a well-written profile and engaging LinkedIn posts. Good writing is a window to your ideas, values, and personality. No matter how good you are at your job, if you’re unable to articulate your persona and career story, it’ll be harder to secure the opportunities you need. Clear and compelling writing can differentiate you from other candidates.

Take it from me: In 2021, we were expanding our in-house marketing team at Vector Marketing. I ended up extending a job offer to Kaitlyn a few weeks after finding her profile on LinkedIn. What stood out to me was a self-reflective post. After sharing a vulnerable experience at college where she committed to more than she could achieve, Kaitlyn wrote how the instance helped her gain confidence: “I was stronger. I knew how to say no, and I knew how to better stand up for myself.” That kind of attitude was exactly what our team needed.

How to Hone Your Writing on LinkedIn

Mastering the art of writing is like building a muscle. It’s going to feel difficult at first because you won’t know how to represent yourself through text. But you must keep at it. Experimentation is the key to success, and you’ll feel more comfortable expressing your mind over time.

Now, if you’re ready to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), I have some tips to help you get started:

1. Get inspired

The fundamental to good writing is reading. So read and observe what other people are doing on the platform. Start with your own network. Which connections do you admire? What do their profiles look like? What do you find inspiring about their online presence?

Next, look at people from your area of interest. If you’re a product developer, what do other developers talk about on LinkedIn? What kind of terminology do they use or avoid? Seeing others’ profiles can help you determine what you want your own to look like. Use these examples as inspiration, but be careful not to plagiarize or copy the text.

That said, sometimes you can get fazed by others’ achievements and success. You might question your own journey or harbor assumptions about what it means to be professional. Don’t fall into the trap of living up to others’ expectations. That will only make it harder to find your voice. Instead, spend some time thinking about who you are and what your authentic self looks like.

2. Add a relevant headline and compelling summary to your profile

Your headline and summary give people an initial sense of your personality. What do you want people’s first impression of you to be?

Headline: This should tell people what you do and what’s important to you. The words you use here also influence how often you’re likely to show up in search queries. According to LinkedIn, the order of search results is determined based on profiles (i.e., what people write), activity, and connections. So be strategic about the words you use to define yourself. Limit your headline to two lines or five to 15 words.

Summary: The summary section gives you a chance to explain who you are and why people should take an interest. Use this section to tell a compelling story about yourself rather than simply listing off your qualifications and professional passions. Think about what inspired you to follow your professional path. Is there an experience that you feel summarizes your career? Use first-person or “I” language to sound more human and relatable.

3. Write posts for a purpose, and optimize for readability

Have you ever heard the term broetry? This popular writing style uses poetic line breaks and often opens with a snappy one-liner to ​​hook the reader. Broems can be quite lengthy, but they’re easy to digest because you don’t have to trudge through a wall of text to read the post.

In some ways, this writing style is useful on LinkedIn because it caters to internet users’ short attention spans. However, broems rightfully get a bad rap because they can be rife with cliche life lessons, jargon, and overly dramatic anecdotes.

My advice: Call a thing a thing.

In the context of LinkedIn, this means ditching the purple prose, euphemisms, and corporate shorthand and opting for clear, simple language. Ideally, all of your LinkedIn posts should be written at the fifth-grade reading level. Each paragraph should be two or three sentences long, and make sure you use one paragraph to address one idea or thought.

4. Embrace the emoji

In the early days of LinkedIn, many people assumed the platform was the résumé equivalent of Facebook, so they stuck to dry, lackluster prose. While that’s still the norm in some industries, internet culture is influencing our everyday speech, and it’s only smart to keep up with the times.

I’m a huge proponent of emojis. They break up long lists to keep readers’ attention and clarify the tone of your writing. Studies show that their use can trigger emotional reactions. Basically, emoji smiles are just as contagious as actual human smiles.

You can go overboard with emojis on your LinkedIn profile and posts (as well as other social media platforms), so use them discerningly. The goal is to use emojis to convey personality or make your text more readable. Be sure to use emojis that will stand out against LinkedIn’s gray, white, and blue interface — and stay away from anything that has hidden meanings (looking at you, eggplant emoji) to avoid awkward blunders.

Carry these four tips with you to write engaging, meaningful content for your audience. When you do, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work for you.

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