Your LinkedIn profile is one of the first things a product management recruiter will look at. After all, LinkedIn profiles are easily accessible for recruiters, and they’re standardized across all candidates — making them much easier to consume than resumes. Because LinkedIn profiles are so popular with recruiters, you should regularly invest time into keeping your product manager LinkedIn profile optimized and up-to-date.
First, I’ll share key principles for crafting a solid LinkedIn profile. Then, I’ll walk through the key components of a fantastic LinkedIn profile. Finally, I’ll provide some suggestions on how to best position your LinkedIn profile as part of your recruiting process.
How Do I Craft a Solid LinkedIn Profile?
I’ve reviewed thousands of LinkedIn profiles for product manager candidates. Based on these experiences, here are principles to keep in mind for putting your best foot forward through LinkedIn. Note that many of these principles are shared with the key principles behind crafting stellar product manager resumes.
In other words, if you’ve already written a great resume, don’t hesitate to start from your resume to create your LinkedIn profile. And, if you’ve written a great LinkedIn profile, don’t hesitate to start from there to create a powerful resume. That said, remember that resumes and LinkedIn profiles have separate purposes in your application process — so make sure they’re not exact replicas of one another!
First, ensure that you highlight key experiences and achievements where you’ve made an impact. Recruiters aren’t looking for a laundry list of skills. Rather, they’re looking for tangible evidence of your past track record.
Keep in mind that recruiters are sifting through dozens of LinkedIn profiles per day. That means that you need to make it easy for them to know whether you’re a good product manager candidate or not.
In other words, you need to increase your signal vs. noise ratio — focus on what matters to recruiters, and eliminate information that doesn’t matter as much. For example, your high school sports experiences are likely not relevant to product manager recruiters.
Second, quantify your impact where possible. It’s much easier for people to assess your performance when they have something concrete to measure against.
As an example, say that you’re a new college graduate who’s looking to break into product management. On your LinkedIn profile, you mention that you’ve organized an event.
In that case, you should share metrics such as how many attendees came to the event, what your audience conversion rate was, how many event sponsors you had, how much revenue you earned, etc.
Even if the numbers might feel small to you, numbers provide credibility. Saying that you held “the largest event ever for my club” isn’t all that valuable, but saying that you held an event “with 25 attendees” is valuable.
Third, cut out any fluff. Show, don’t just tell. Too often, I see fluffy sentences that look like this: “demonstrated thought leadership in establishing a vision for my product.”
Why is that sentence problematic? It’s because there’s no way anyone can prove or disprove it.
No one knows what your product was, what your vision was, and whether your vision was actually thoughtful. You’ve created doubt instead of confidence in the mind of the reader.
Instead, discuss how your product made a real positive impact in the lives of real people. That’s what creates confidence.
Similarly, don’t say things like “obsessed about the customer.” It’s too fluffy. Show your obsession instead. Discuss the user interviews you ran, the iterations that you made, and the metrics that you moved.
Recruiters are smart people — they will connect the dots in their head to create the qualitative narrative. Focus on showing your impact, rather than telling people why you think you’re awesome.
When you tell, all you do is share your own opinion. Your opinion about yourself doesn’t matter that much to the recruiter; they’re trying to solve a problem within their organization, and they’re solving it by hiring a fantastic candidate. So, that means you need to show the quantifiable impact that you’ve made.
Now that we know the key principles, let’s discuss each of the key components of product manager LinkedIn profiles.
Key Components of Product Manager LinkedIn Profiles
In my experience, I’ve found that there are really only five key components that matter on your LinkedIn profile as a product manager. The five components are:
- Work experience
- Social proof
Let’s dive into each below. I’ll use my own profile as we walk through each section so that you have something concrete to refer to.
Here’s what the headline looks like (I’ve highlighted it in red):
The headline is how you represent yourself all over LinkedIn. For example, this is what the headline looks like for Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP when I view my “following” page.
This headline shows up in your LinkedIn invites, your messages, your activity, and more. So, it’s crucial that you catch the recruiter’s attention with your headline.
Pop quiz: why is my headline “Product Manager at Blend”? Why don’t I share about Product Manager HQ in my headline, and why don’t I talk about the 150+ publications I’ve crafted? Why don’t I discuss my personal interests?
It’s because recruiters need to know one thing: are you going to be a good product manager?
If you’re currently employed as a product manager, and you’re not advertising that you’re looking for a new job, then here’s what a recruiter thinks: “This person is likely decent at product management. They’re not desperate for a new job, and they seem like they’re doing well at their current employer.”
Unfortunately, the truth is that product management recruiting relies a lot on perceptions and first impressions. Given that there are so many people out there who want to be product managers, there’s too much supply of potential talent, and that means that recruiters can afford to be picky.
So, when my headline is “Product Manager at Blend”, I signal to recruiters that I am focused on my work and that I am likely a good candidate to investigate further. If my headline includes PMHQ, that may raise questions about how dedicated I am to my full-time career as a product manager.
Here are some things not to do in your headline:
- Don’t be clever — get to the point.
- Don’t call yourself “product enthusiast” — it doesn’t mean anything to a recruiter, and it’s a waste of limited, valuable space.
- Don’t use more than one or two emojis — it’s too noisy and unprofessional.
- Don’t be rude — I’ve seen people brag about how they’ve put others out of a job, or talk about why other people “suck” at what they do.
- Don’t advertise that you’re looking for a job — it makes you look desperate. There are better ways to share that you’re interested in new opportunities.
The headline that I use might feel boring or uninventive. But the thing is, the headline has a purpose. It is a quick visual validation of the kind of work that you do on a daily basis. It follows you everywhere on LinkedIn.
So, it’s better to play it safe in the headline. Don’t worry, you’ll get to be more creative in the next section: the blurb.
Here’s what the blurb looks like in its collapsed form (no need to read every word):
And here’s what it looks like in its expanded form:
The only place where people can view your blurb is when they’re on your specific LinkedIn profile page.
In other words, when they see the blurb, they’ve already decided that they are interested in learning more about you specifically.
Here’s the thing: people want to work with others who they feel they can trust. They want to know who you are as a person. So, the blurb is the best place in your entire profile to be personal.
The LinkedIn blurb is the one place where you can talk candidly about your past career trajectory and your perspectives on the world. So, this is where you get to be you.
It’s your call on whether you prefer using first person to talk about yourself (e.g. “I am a product manager”) or third person instead (e.g. “Clement is a product manager”).
It’s also your call on how much or how little to write, and how you’d like each section in your blurb to flow together.
Some of the most eye-catching profiles are the ones with a touch of self-deprecating humor or the ones with a genuine, vulnerable story about themselves.
LinkedIn itself featured these 10 profiles for having great blurbs: read through them and consider how they craft their self-narrative in a way that is authentic yet professional.
What tone best matches your objectives and your personality? Use that tone and be consistent throughout the blurb.
That said, the blurb is not meant to be a novel. Don’t write everything about yourself; prioritize the most important information into the first paragraph.
Here’s how I think about my own blurb. The first paragraph is short enough to be fully visible in the “collapsed” version, and it needs to carry 100% of the essentials about who I am and what I do.
The second paragraph is nice-to-have if a recruiter decides they want to learn more. The second paragraph needs to be just as crisp as the first paragraph. If the second paragraph is a wall of text, the reader is going to give up and scroll further down.
The third paragraph is meant to drive search results but isn’t really meant for humans to read. Why do I have a search-optimized paragraph? That’s because many times, a recruiter might search for the term “fintech product manager” — so, I need to have the word “fintech” appear somewhere within my LinkedIn profile.
My fourth paragraph humanizes me. It shares what I’m passionate about outside of work. It’s not crucial for the recruiter to know, but if they’re interested, they can easily find that information about me.
This four-paragraph blurb is the structure that I felt made the most sense for my objectives. Your objectives will be different from mine. So, don’t feel obligated to use the same structure that I did!
Think of your blurb like your cover letter. You want to stand out as a relatable human being with your own personality. Don’t be shy!
The work experience section on LinkedIn looks like this:
For your work experience section, make sure that you spell out your title, your employer, and the length of time you were in that role. Furthermore, provide a quick summary of what your employer does.
Why provide a summary about the employer? Well, recruiters are pressed for time, and they don’t have the luxury of clicking into every link that appears. And, recruiters can’t be expected to know the details about every single company in the world.
So, by providing relevant information about your employer, you make it much easier for the recruiter to determine whether you’ll be a strong potential candidate.
Then, for each role, provide information about any awards or notable achievements.
In general, you’ll want to keep each work experience short and sweet. Your LinkedIn profile is not meant to replace your resume, so don’t list every single thing that you’ve done with that employer. If the recruiter finds that your LinkedIn profile is interesting, they’ll follow up to ask you for a resume.
Here’s what the education profile section on LinkedIn looks like:
For each school that you attended, note the school, your degree, and your GPA. Also, note the years that you attended the school.
If you have any activities associated with the school, such as student organizations or clubs, don’t forget to list those. And, if you have associated test scores or awards, list those too.
The education section is “table stakes” — it’s highly unlikely that your education section will make or break your desirability as a candidate. After all, education doesn’t correlate well to performance on the job. Your past job performance is what truly indicates whether you’ll be a strong candidate or not.
But, I’ve seen LinkedIn profiles that are missing their education section entirely, and that missing information makes it harder for a recruiter to trust you. When I ask people why they hide their education information, they tell me it’s because they’re embarrassed about their GPA or they feel that coming from a community college will hinder their progress.
Here’s some real talk: you shouldn’t worry about not being from an Ivy League or having a less than perfect GPA. You want to work for a company who cares about your professional achievements. If a company decides they’re not interested in you solely due to your education, you don’t want to work there in the first place — you’ve dodged a bullet.
Listing your education on LinkedIn is the same as listing your education on your resume. The specifics of your education don’t actually matter that much to the recruiter. If you don’t list any education details, you reduce your credibility, as the recruiter will feel that you’re hiding something from them.
What is social proof? Social proof means that other human beings have validated your trustworthiness. When a recruiter sees that other people are willing to put their reputation on the line to vouch for you, they feel more confident in your ability as a candidate.
The social proof that matters most is the “recommendations” section in LinkedIn. Here are some of the recommendations that I’ve received.
Keep in mind the following two notable breakpoints for the number of recommendations that you have on LinkedIn.
First, when you go from having zero recommendations to having one recommendation, your profile becomes significantly more attractive to a recruiter.
That’s because at least one person thinks highly enough of you to vocally back you on a public platform — that’s a strong signal of your ability to work well with other people.
Second, when you go from having one recommendation to having four recommendations, that’s when it’s clear that it’s not a fluke — people do genuinely enjoy working with you.
Every additional recommendation from that point on still gives you a benefit, but you get diminishing marginal returns. After all, recruiters are pressed for time! They’re not going to spend the time to read every single recommendation that you have — they’ll likely only look at the first 2–3 recommendations.
So, if you currently have zero recommendations, you need to go get at least one. If you already have at least one recommendation, try to get up to four recommendations. If you already have four recommendations, you’re in good shape, though it won’t hurt to get even more.
How do you ask for a recommendation? We’ll cover that in the next article. For now, simply keep in mind that recommendations are a powerful signal to recruiters that you’re a potentially good candidate.
LinkedIn Sections to Deprioritize
LinkedIn is comprehensive with the different kinds of profile sections they have. While many of these sections are nice-to-have, they’re not mandatory. Your time is best spent on the five key sections that I’ve highlighted above.
Specifically, you should deprioritize the following sections:
- Activity on LinkedIn, e.g. posts, shares, likes, follows
- Licenses and certifications
- Accomplishments, including courses, organizations, publications, and awards
- Skills and endorsements, including skill quizzes
Deprioritizing doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fill them in. It just means that they shouldn’t be the first thing you focus on.
In other words, it’s better for you to spend time locking in accomplishments at work than it is for you to spend time taking an unrelated course outside of work. Similarly, it’s more important for you to hone your personal blurb than it is for you to share articles to your network.
Not all sections are weighed equally by recruiters. Activity, licenses, courses, interests, and skills are typically not first-priority for recruiters to review.
Product management is all about prioritizing. Tackle the highest ROI items, and know where to draw the line.
How Do I Share My LinkedIn Profile?
You’ve put in all of this effort into your LinkedIn profile — but before you can reap the rewards, people have to know how to find you on LinkedIn! Here are some of the best ways to share your profile with others.
First, personalize your LinkedIn profile URL so that it’s easier to remember. Here’s the step-by-step LinkedIn help article on how to customize your public profile.
Once you’ve done that, add your LinkedIn profile URL to your personal email signature. That way, anyone who you email can easily find you on LinkedIn. You can also consider adding it to any personal business cards that you’ve made.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t share your LinkedIn profile in your work email signature or on work business cards. That’s because at work, you represent your company first and foremost, whereas your LinkedIn profile represents you and not your company.
If you have a personal website, add a link to your LinkedIn profile there too. It helps people confirm your identity! Also, feel free to link back to your LinkedIn profile for any publications that you’ve tackled, whether that’s on YouTube, Instagram, articles, podcasts, or webinars.
And of course, if you’ve spoken at events or contributed as a guest to someone else’s publications, ask the organizers to link back to your LinkedIn profile. They’ll usually be happy to oblige.
Recruiters regularly use LinkedIn to find potential product manager candidates for open positions. That means that you should invest time in polishing your LinkedIn profile.
A solid product manager LinkedIn profile combines elements of a strong product manager resume and a strong product manager cover letter. By understanding which key profile sections really matter, and by focusing your time on those sections, you’ll maximize your results and increase your chances of being noticed by a recruiter.
In our next article, we’ll cover how you can ask for a solid LinkedIn recommendation, as well as best practices for how you can write powerful recommendations for others.