LinkedIn’s Desktop Redesign—Here’s How to Leverage It to Boost Your Brand
You knew it was coming. We all did.
We were bound to see some big changes after Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn last month, and three nights ago I saw some of them take effect right before my eyes. When I logged into my account, the LinkedIn profile I’d seen for years was gone.
In its place was a lighter, airier user interface that turned my old account on its head. My redesigned deskttop now matches the look it has on a mobile screen, but with a few feature changes and a re-organized navigation that will take some getting used to.
Turns out, LinkedIn hasn’t rolled out the redesign to everyone just yet.
So if you’re awaiting your big reveal, or just experiencing the updates today, here’s a rundown of the different ways you can leverage these changes to improve your personal brand—before everyone else catches onto them:
Overall, LinkedIn’s desktop redesign makes profiles easier to digest at a glance and paints platform to be less like a resume web page, and more like a true networking tool where you can make your most important career and business moves.
The first thing you’ll see about your new profile is that it’s been decluttered in a serious way. Starting at the top: Your headline has been untouched, but where your full summary once appeared, there’s now a roughly 200 character preview of the content with an option to click and read the rest.
Short of saying “meh” and hoping your summary’s first 200 characters are compelling enough to prompt a click, there are two ways that you can harness this new layout to boost your personal brand.
- Think of this preview as a secondary headline or value pitch. What could you say in about the length of a tweet to engage visitors right away? OR
- Include an outright call to action in your preview. Ex. “If you’re looking to engage, retain, and inspire your teams to hatch new value, click “See more” to learn how I can help you!”
The good news is that your LinkedIn profile summary statement won’t require a total rewrite. Just pay attention to the first few lines and if they weren’t dazzling with character, shine them up like your favorite pair of shoes.
Posts and Activity
Following that same “We’re a social networking platform. No, really: We’re a social networking platform!” mindset, the developers at LinkedIn rejiggered your Post section to also include your activity. Check it out:
You might not be the writer type who posts articles (and that’s fine) but with this new layout, you’ll want to reinforce your brand with the items you share with your network.
Status updates can inform your network about everything from your expertise and knowledge, right down to your interests and how involved you actually are within your industry, so don’t miss out on the chance to brand yourself with them.
If you’ve never thought of your status updates as part of your LinkedIn profile’s branding strategy, I’ve written three articles that are essentially a crash course on how to do it:
- You Can Totally Brand Yourself Using Social Media: Here’s How
- If You Can Only Spare 15 Minutes a Week for LinkedIn, Do This
- How to Be Seen as a Thought Leader in Just 15 Minutes a Week
^ Noticing a trend with those last two? Branding yourself online doesn’t have to be a time-expensive mission, not in my book anyway. Use LinkedIn’s desktop redesign as an excuse to create a hyper-effective social branding routine!
Gone are the days of scrolling-scrolling-scrolling through someone’s timeline of experiences. Echoing your Summary section, the new Professional Experiences section uses a “See description” option to tuck away the descriptions for your older career roles (kind of like the middle section of an accordion), leaving the choice of what appears and what content to read up to your visitors.
The content for your most recent role still appears in its entirety, which is great because it’s typically this role that does the heavy lifting in selling you anyway. You’ll also see that your recommendations no longer appear in-line—more on how to handle this later.
Your professional experiences are now so much easier to take in when quickly skimmed. They’ve gone from being an obstacle course, to a bullet train on a track.
Three ways you can use this new design to boost your brand:
- Most people aren’t going to click “See description,” so you can stress less about the content you list for older roles. Limit those descriptions to your three or four major wins for the position, and then move the heck on. And as always, don’t just copy and paste your whole resume into your profile.
- Your description for your first role is more important than ever. It’s static, up top, so it’s where eyes will pause. Treat it with the same priority as you would your summary section—possibly even more priority—because it’s now a staple in your profile. Give readers balanced insight into your passion for the role, the nuts and bolts of your duties, and your major wins.
- Your older roles can pop, even if readers don’t click “See description.” Utilize your job titles to brand yourself with quickie value statements in addition to your job title. Try something like this:
“Program Manager—Planning & relationship linchpin for $960M government contract”
“Senior Engagement Manager—Transitioned 75+ accounts with 100% customer retention”
“VP of Marketing—Grew Customer base 40% YoY”
You’ve actually got 100 characters to play with for each job title, just enough to provide a highlight around the value you created. The easiest way to pull this off is to look at your top three wins and pull your favorite one into your job title.
Skills Section (The decluttering continues!)
You’re still able to list 50 total skills in this section, but instead of that old grid that listed your top ten skills, the new interface limits you to three top skills, accompanied by a snapshot of how many of your connections endorsed you.
In reality, your skills section has always been about plugging keywords into your profile for robots (not people) and this new user interface is absolutely a nod to that.
And before you freak, here’s why this update is pure awesome:
Your visitors are no longer thunderstruck by a sea of pictures of strangers who endorsed you. They’re not asked to read through a list of buzzwords that, let’s face it, you had trouble curating in the first place. They get to focus on the most important elements of your personal brand, and nothing else.
So how should you go about building that focus and choosing your top three skills?
Showcase the three that capture your top areas of expertise, rather than three specific skills. Think of them like buckets that could categorize every other skill you have. For instance I’ve chosen “Personal Branding,” “Resumes,” and “Marketing” because they capture just about everything else I do, from copywriting to social media training and strategy, fits into one of those buckets.
If you’re like me, and have always found the classic treatment for Recommendations really ineffective, you’ll love how they appear in the new profile layout. Your recommendations no longer appear both at the end of your profile and in-line within your professional experiences section; with the new UI, they’re allocated a section at the foot of your profile (once again, removing needless bulk). Take a peek:
You have the option of showcasing your two favorite recommendations, while the rest are available via a “View more recommendations” feature. With this treatment, the recommendations feature is now a core component of your LinkedIn profile (rather than an afterthought), so if you haven’t been using it up to this point, get on it!
But before you go on a recommendation request rampage, remember: They’re date-stamped. Build out this section over time. And when you choose the two recommendations you’ll showcase, make it the two that stand as strong proof that you can solve the problems of the target audience you currently want to appeal to.
LinkedIn Profile Elements We “Lost”
Several parts of the desktop redesign eliminate features or sections altogether. For instance, you’ll no longer have the option to click and drag sections to organize them according to your personal liking, a change that unifies how profiles look across the board. And remember that Profile Completeness gauge that annoyingly never hit 100%?
It’s long gone.
We’ve also lost many once independent sections, which now appear under your Accomplishments Section. Your Certifications, Languages, Publications, Courses, Honors, Patents, Publications, and Test Scores appear here in a catch-all format.
If you’re a writer like me, and enjoyed pinning your publications to the top of your LinkedIn profile with a hyperlink to your archive, you’ll be disappointed that you can no longer do this. The good news is that the hyperlink trick skill works when the section is viewed via your public profile.
A few sections that are missing altogether include the Causes, Affiliations, and Interests sections, likely because they were largely underused. If you’re lamenting their retirement, try recapturing them using your Volunteer experience, Summary, or by simply using your status updates to touch on them at regular intervals.
Last, you’ll also find that the Advice for Contacting section has been eliminated; a bummer if you were previously using it to include a call to action in the footer of your profile. But honestly with this new streamlined design, outdated hacks like that one won’t be as necessary in engaging your visitors.
No matter where you stand in the argument on LinkedIn’s future in Microsoft’s hands, you’ll like the desktop redesign after a few go-rounds. As you leverage them to kick your profile and networking game into overdrive, remember that the same timeless rules still apply as you build your personal brand:
Demonstrate your value. Tell a vivid story. And above all, be relatable.