By building a strong profile, being an active member, and fostering connections, you can make LinkedIn work for you in your UX design job search.
LinkedIn is a professional networking platform owned by Microsoft that lets you post career updates, share and like content, and connect with others.
It’s also an important tool that you can leverage as you establish and grow your career as a UX designer.
LinkedIn is often the first place a recruiter or hiring manager will go when considering you for a position. Your LinkedIn profile is your best chance at a solid first impression—keep that in mind as you use these tips to build and maintain a strong presence on LinkedIn..
As with any tool, LinkedIn will take some time to get comfortable with. Block out an hour or two to play around with different formats and approaches, and know that you can easily adjust and amend as you go. It is a powerful networking tool that can definitely help you land your first job in the UX/UI Design industry.
In this blog post, we’ll talk you through how to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile as a UX designer, and how to jumpstart the job search by using this valuable tool.
LinkedIn Premium vs. Basic: Which One Is Right for You?
You can join LinkedIn for free, but if you’d like to take full advantage of things like Search, Messages, and InMails (the LinkedIn equivalent of email), you might want to upgrade to their Premium subscription.
A few of the benefits of a paid Premium subscription include:
InMail credits, so you can send messages to LinkedIn users who you aren’t already connected with.
Access to LinkedIn Learning, with over 15,000 courses to help you uplevel skills (or learn new ones).
Profile view alerts, which tell you who’s looking at your profile, and when, so you can follow up or initiate a conversation appropriately.
And, since you have the option to pay for a monthly subscription, the Premium subscription is something you can utilize for a month or two as needed to help make your job search (or networking) a little easier.
Your Profile: Advertise Yourself As a UX Designer
Throughout your LinkedIn profile, you have the opportunity to leverage visuals, links, and copy to showcase your skills and experience in a way that amplifies your personal brand as a UX designer.
LinkedIn is under active development, so you’ll often see new features appear (or disappear) as they continue to create an online hub for professional networking.
A few of the elements you currently have at your disposal are:
Your name and basic information
A headline, where you have an opportunity to summarize your expertise and stand out
A featured section, where you can highlight links, projects, posts, or other features that you care about
Pick a professional-looking, headshot-type photo, if you choose to include one. You don’t need to be in a suit and tie, (and for a design job, looking too buttoned up might actually hurt your chances), but you also don’t want to use a photo from last Halloween either.
Avoid cropping out or including friends, family members, or pets, as well as blurry or old photos. The area where your photo goes also includes a customizable background image, and the same principles apply: keep it unobtrusive, professional, and relevant.
Your LinkedIn Headline
The headline appears under your name and photo. This is a line that allows you to advertise yourself as a UX designer in 220 characters (or less).
It might take a bit of wordsmithing to find the right balance to make you stand out in the right way to the right people. When in doubt, however, it’s better to stay short and direct than spew out more words just because you can.
For example, you can simply use your job title (or ideal job title) in this area:
I also found that adding some extra verbiage after the job title attracted some more attention:
UX Designer | Bridging the gap between your product and the end user.
Even if you don’t use your exact job title in your headline, it is important to retain some design-related keywords; when recruiters are searching for candidates, they often search by title.
So if you’re not using design terms in your headline, LinkedIn won’t include your profile in these related searches.
The wording here is key, especially if you currently have a full time job and are trying not to let your current company know that you’re searching for a new position.
Geography: Broadcast Your Location (or Not)
Next up is geography. In general, list yourself in or close to the city you’d like to work, even if you’re not currently there.
Why? Recruiters often search by geography to narrow down their candidate pool, so if you’d like to move to Boston, go ahead and list that as your location. The only caveat would be to maintain transparency during the interview process, so you can make sure that you’re able to relocate and show up in the office on day 1 for your new job.
Even if you’re looking for remote work, the geography will have some bearing on your search, since many companies do have parameters on what countries they are willing (or able) to hire candidates from.
Contact Info: Make It Easy for People to Find You Online
Did you know that you can customize your profile URL on LinkedIn? So instead of the random arrangement of letters and numbers that LinkedIn assigns you, you can actually change it to your name or to match your portfolio website. You may need to play with this a bit if you have a more common name, but it looks more professional to have this customized regardless.
Within your contact information on LinkedIn you’re also able to add your portfolio URL, which is vital to anyone searching for a design role. You want to make it as easy as possible for recruiters or hiring managers to find all the information they’re looking for in one place.
You can also add your email address and phone number to the contact information section, but these are all optional so add at your discretion. If you choose to add contact details, just make sure they match what’s in your portfolio and resume.
Industry: A UX Designer Is a Designer in Any Industry
As you fill out your LinkedIn profile, you’ll come across a required field labeled Industry.
As a designer, your role is typically viewed as a service within another industry (like if you’re a UX designer for a healthcare company, for example).
Approaching it from a recruiting perspective, your best bet is to go with Design, so you’re showing up if someone is searching for designers no matter what industry they may be recruiting for.
The “About” Section: Keep It Short and Sweet
You can treat the About section of LinkedIn similarly to the About page on your portfolio: highlight a little bit about your professional background, as well as the unique experience and perspective you bring to a role in UX design.
As a new designer, you might include a short paragraph about why you made the switch to UX design (or what you’re passionate about in the field). As your career progresses, you might find that you tweak it a little bit to emphasize your niche interests and focuses. If you’re leading design teams, you might mention a strength in establishing systems and structures for more collaborative design, for example … or your passion for incorporating stronger usability testing protocols.
Work History: Use Keywords From Jobs You’re Applying To
LinkedIn has an entire section dedicated for you to showcase your work history, in chronological order.
This work history should reflect whatever you’ve put on your resume—and include keywords that you might find in a UX/UI or Product design job description.
For example, if you’re applying to a position that talks about collaboration, B2B, and deliverables, make sure to include those words in past roles if possible, and even if they weren’t related to design. Make sure to also include any metrics that you might have from past roles, such as people or teams managed, an increase in sales or profitability, efficiency data, etc.
How to incorporate experience that’s still “in progress”:
If you’re currently working as a freelance designer, you can (and should) include short descriptions or summaries of projects that you’ve recently worked on, even if you aren’t able to name the clients specifically.
For example, you could include a list like:
User research study for a local fitness company
Website redesign for a therapy practice
UX design for a real estate startup
You don’t need to name clients specifically, but you do want to speak to your current design experience. You also don’t need to include high school or minor internship roles, unless they were for a company or person that might be relevant to your current aspirations.
A word on grammar: write about your current role in the present tense, and anything else in the past tense. It’s up to you if you’d like to use first or third person, bullets for responsibilities, or paragraphs, but stay consistent and don’t jump back and forth.
Education: Be Recent, Relevant, & Right
The education section is fairly straightforward.
You can list any education beyond high school that’s relevant to positions you’re applying for, whether that’s a post secondary education from a college or university, or a certificate program of some sort.
You can list Designlab here, if you’ve taken our UX Academy program or any of our short courses. If you have other certifications or degrees, feel free to add them too.
If you attended, but didn’t graduate from a particular program, don’t claim that you did; it’s better to be honest up front than to have your company find out in a background check later, which may result in a rescinded offer.
Extra Credit: Professional Recommendations Can Give You a Boost
There are additional sections on LinkedIn for Volunteer Work, Skills, Endorsements, Accomplishments, and Recommendations, and it’s up to you if you’d like to fill them out. In general, unless the Accomplishment is significant in the industry, it won’t help that much. The same is true with Skills and Endorsements; everyone has them, and similar ones at that, so it will be hard to stand out based on those areas alone.
If you’d like to ask for a Recommendation, make sure that it’s a person who can speak to your work directly, rather than a friend, family member, or professor. Remember: LinkedIn is a professional networking tool, so as nice as it is to have your fellow Designlab students vouch for your communication skills, a stronger statement might come from a former boss who can talk about your growth and ingenuity.
Connections: Make Them Both Personal & Professional
One of the key things you’ll use LinkedIn for is to make connections with peers, hiring managers, and other industry professionals. While you might wait a few days or weeks to add someone as a friend on another social platform, your best bet on LinkedIn is to reach out right away.
If you attend a hackathon or networking event and meet 10 people, add them all within the next 24 hours. You don’t need to write a long note, either, but do add some sort of context. The tool automatically uses the phrase, “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn,” but be sure to add a personal note that references when you met and what you discussed, something like,”Thanks for the advice at the UX Academy Foundations meetup last night.” This type of personal outreach encourages a more lasting connection.
Outreach and Follow Up: Growing Relationships
Once you’ve made all these fabulous connections, what’s next? While you’re certainly not expected to personally message all of these connections with any regularity, sending targeted messages to select connections can go a long way to keeping your network strong.
If/when you land a new job, all of your contacts will see when you update your profile with your new role. Take the time to send short thank you notes to anyone who helped you in your search in a significant way, if you don’t have their emails. If you come across an event, article, or job post that you think a connection might find interesting, pass it along.
If you do send a connection request or InMail that goes unanswered, be cautious with your follow up. Just because someone doesn’t accept your request right away doesn’t mean they’re ignoring you.
Many people only use LinkedIn when they’re job searching, so they may not be logging in on a regular basis. If you’ve requested to connect with a very senior person, or a recruiter, their InMail box and connection requests could be in the hundreds. Try to be patient and don’t take it personally.
Maintaining Privacy: Turn Off Notifications
One thing to note with all these changes: if you currently have a job, or for some reason don’t want to broadcast your updates to your connections, you’ll want to turn off notifications.
To do this, go to “Settings & Privacy,” and under “Visibility,” change “Share profile updates” to No. You can always adjust, but this lets you be more selective about what you’d like to share with whom.
LinkedIn is an online platform that allows you to create a profile that showcases your professional skills and experience
You can use LinkedIn for free, but you might want to consider a paid subscription when you’re actively searching for job opportunities
When filling out your profile, keep it concise and relevant to your UX career (This isn’t social media!)
Leverage the LinkedIn community to network with other UX design professionals and research new job opportunities
Are you ready to land your first job in the UX/UI design industry? The next UX Academy cohort is starting soon, complete with hands-on learning, standout portfolio projects, and 1:1 mentoring with a professional designer. All UX Academy graduates have exclusive access to our Career Services program, where you’ll be paired with a Career Coach to identify the right job opportunities (whether on LinkedIn or elsewhere), add extra polish to your portfolio, work on your interview skills together, and launch your new career!