The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained.

Screen shot 2012 04 29 at 9 34 13 PM

People don’t like change, it’s just the way we’re hardwired. You get used to doing (or seeing) something, it becomes familiar. Like driving a car, complex initially but after a while it becomes second nature. The New LinkedIn Profile is a radical change, not just in looks but also in function. The car is now a Formula 1 race car. You should probably take a few lessons before taking it out for a spin. Here’s my analysis of the New LinkedIn profile and what it means for you.


The LinkedIn Profile made it’s debut in 2009. In January 2009 there were 32 million LinkedIn members. There are currently over 178 million members. More than 175,000 new Profiles are created every day. Each day brings 25 million Profile views. In September 2012 alone, LinkedIn users conducted 3 billion people searches. Clearly, LinkedIn Profiles are a key ingredient in the networking mix and LinkedIn felt that they needed an major update.


“We want to make it look like [LinkedIn] is from the year 2012 and not like it’s from 1999,” Senior Experience Designer Marissa Dulaney says. “You have to keep up with the times.”


Project Katy
As in Katy Perry, which makes no sense for a professional networking platform, right? Read on, all will be explained…“If you look at the average user today, she’s getting a lot more sophisticated, she’s using a lot more tools both for productivity and entertainment,” says Deep Nishar, senior VP of products and user experience. “At some level, we are becoming generation ADD, so we don’t have that much time to focus and spend on things…. At the end of the day, if we have fewer things across which to make decisions, we end up making choices and taking action.” But why Perry? As an avid pop culture fanatic, Steve Johnson, LinkedIn’s Director of Design and web development, sees pop stars as personifications of the state of the world. And right now, he says, there is no star that resonates more with people than Perry. Most people know and can sing a Katy Perry song off the top of their head and enjoy it, Johnson says. “Fashion changes, people’s perception of value changes, people’s ideas of what’s useful and what’s not changes,” Johnson says. “There’s normally an icon in there that we can all think about”. But this is not Katy Perry of garish costumes fame; this is the Katy Perry of simple but irresistible pop hooks — something people keep coming back to. In other words, Project Katy was all about 2 things: (1) a distinctive modern look with (2) widespread appeal.


The references to “she” and citing Katy Perry, a well known female icon for inspiration for the re-design is quite deliberate – nearly twice as many men (63%) as women (37%) use LinkedIn (November 2010 Pew Survey). All other SNS (Social Networking Site) platforms have significantly more female users than male users. LinkedIn clearly want to correct this imbalance and rightly so. No glass walls, so to speak.


“Signal-to-Noise Ratio” (SNR)
I have to admit that my initial reaction to the New Profile was negative. I felt that it was all design and lacking detail. Now that I’ve had time to explore the new interface, it’s starting to make much more sense to me. The New Profile does a great job at making the most important pieces of information prominent and tucks away the peripheral stuff with ‘see more/less’ roll ups. This is classic “Signal-to-Noise Ratio” (SNR) strategy applied to web design. Johnson and his Design team deserve to be applauded, they’ve improved both form and function. Bravo.


So What’s TRULY Important On A LinkedIn Profile?
Ask a room full of LinkedIn experts what’s most important about the (old) LinkedIn Profile? and you would get a dozen different replies. Opinions differed because there were so many different Profile components and everyone had their favorite aspect (Photo, Professional Headline, Recommendations, Skills, Experience, Website etc.). Well now we know exactly what the most important features are on a LinkedIn Profile. Why? Because LinkedIn have decided this for us and have distilled the LinkedIn networking experience into 5 core elements:


  • SUMMARY – Make a great first impression.
  • NETWORK – Discover new insights.
  • ACTIVITY – Start a conversation.
  • CONNECTIONS – Say hello to your network.
  • BACKGROUND – Tell your professional story.























What’s Non-Essential?
The stuff that’s been tucked away out of sight, deemed not as important as those 5 core elements:


  • Recommendations – now if you want to read these you’ll need to click on a roll-down, a maximum of 3 are shown per role and you’ll be able to see the reciprocal back slapping. I’ve never been a fan of recommendations, sensible decision here.
  • Tagging – the option used by some users to keep tabs on their LinkedIn network, now replaced by “Save” part of a nested menu of the “Send InMail” button. Same functionality, better execution.
  • News & Companies – by default these two are at the very end of your Profile under the descriptor of “FOLLOWING”. Lead, don’t follow.


What’s Gone?
Some features didn’t make it after the re-design, LinkedIn are not known to dwell on the past, so we may never know why.


  • “Personal Information” – no longer available, consigned to history.
  • “Contact For”- replaced by roll-down “Contact Info”. It was always redundant to spell this out, hey network with me on this network!
  • Apps – seemingly unavailable (for now). But SlideShare was purchased recently (May) by LinkedIn for $119m, so what was that all about? My guess is that Apps (including SlideShare) will re-appear in full force, they are simply too important to ignore; they enhance the functionality of LinkedIn and do wonders for engagement. Perhaps LinkedIn are working on a better way to incorporate them?
  • vCards – gone, will they be missed? I don’t think so. “The vCard option has been removed from the LinkedIn profile. Please feel free to install our LinkedIn Outlook Connector, which will automatically create Outlook contact records from your LinkedIn connections. This eliminates the need to manually upload vCards to Outlook.” LinkedIn Help Center (9/19/12)


Endorsements are currently being heavily promoted by LinkedIn. Every time you click on a person you are connected with, a big pop-up encourages you to endorse that connection for multiple Skills. I can understand the desire by LinkedIn to push the adoption of a brand new feature especially since its usefulness hinges on widespread participation. However, a big downside with this marketing push is that it also encourages feedback by people who may not be in a position to endorse someone’s skill. I already mentioned that I’m no fan of Recommendations but Endorsements are not much of an improvement, yes they bring more specificity to the professional ability arena but they are merely as useful as a facebook ‘Like”. Eye candy. LinkedIn could and ought to do much better. See my in-depth analysis of the new Endorsement feature here.


Groups As Icons
I’m delighted to see that Groups are now presented in the New Profile almost like an iPhone icon list with all the essential information up front; name of Group, number of Members and a blue “Join” link. A vast improvement.





















Order Your Profile Sections
My LinkedIn sources tell me that the ability to move Profile sections, highlighted in this post will remain and be “even easier” on the New Profile. This is good news since it allows LinkedIn users to emphasize parts of the Profile on a whim and this kind of customization is a very good thing.


Keyword Stuffing/Gaming
I covered this in a previous post, essentially it’s a practice employed by some people to ensure that their LinkedIn Profile has maximum visibility when certain keywords are searched on within the LinkedIn database. The price of that increased visibility is a repetitive and incoherent Profile which usually turns people off. I will report back later with my findings on whether the New Profile discourages the keyword gamers and what it means not just for search but also engagement levels on the LinkedIn platform.


People Similar/Viewed
The New profile introduces a brand new section (which is featured twice – top and bottom of the right hand column) called “PEOPLE SIMILAR TO [LinkedIn User Name]” which presumably uses the relevance & relationship aspects of the LinkedIn search algorithm. I’m delighted that the “PEOPLE ALSO VIEWED” (PAV) section remains in the New Profile, it’s an incredibly useful feature, if you know how to use it (see my previous post on finding Full Profiles & building a Organization Map via PAV cycling).


ROI (Return On Investment)
LinkedIn shows all of its users how many times their Profile has been viewed and searched. I’ve written about the important difference between these two metrics and I’ve explained why you should be focusing on views rather than searches to measure your success in my recent blog post: “Measure Your LinkedIn ROI With Views Not Searches


If you liked this article, you’ll love my customized consulting service. I’ve helped many professionals to achieve their full potential on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not somewhere you paste your resumé, sit back and wait for things to happen. It’s a complicated and nuanced website portal that requires action, insight, branding strategy and marketing know-how. What you don’t know – could hurt you. Whether it’s getting more traffic on your Profile, engaging with a stunningly good Summary or refreshing your LinkedIn presence and brand – share your goals with me and I’ll help you to achieve all of them via LinkedIn.


Contact me now: / 773.469.6600 to get started.


That’s all from me for this week. Please take a few moments to share this article with your network. I read and respond to all comments.

By Andy Foote

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39 Responses

  1. @juliephayer says:

    The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained #LinkedIn

  2. @LinkHumans says:

    The NEW #LinkedIn Profile Explained:

  3. @MoraySouter says:

    RT @jorgensundberg: The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights

  4. Useful: the new LinkedIn Profile Explained by @linkedinsights1

  5. Sorry , I really disagree about the recommendations. Since the LinkedIn profile can be converted to a PDF and distributed like a resume they can be a terrific asset to savvy recruiters, particulalry when they are from people who really know your work. It might have made more sense to allow selection options.

    • Andy Foote says:

      Why are you sorry Adrienne? No need to apologize for a point of view. Unfortunately, you’re swimming against the tide. LinkedIn have made it very clear that Recommendations are not that useful. They’ve hidden them (in the New Profile) and supplemented them with Endorsements. Recommendations are only useful if they come direct from a neutral party, just like the utilization of references in the real world. LinkedIn Recommendations are often solicited, reciprocal, usually lacking specificity and always saccharine sweet. I’m an ex-recruiter with many friends in the talent industry, they’re simply not credible.

      • OK not sorry, but from a HR recruitment perspective current endorsements are too much like FB likes, and HS popularity votes.(Iwas endorsed for a skill I don’t/won’t have.) Recommendations require investment of personal time, integrity & credibility. I have already transferred mine to two more highly visible online profiles, where the writers’ credentials and contact info can be accessed; better value proposition and ROI..

  6. @DrRayGasser says:

    The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights via @linkedinsights1

  7. @LoriShemek says:

    RT @TreasuryProfs The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights … via @linkedinsights1

  8. ARTICLE: The #NewLinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights via @linkedinsights1 – very useful read.

  9. Darlene says:

    Great article, Andy. Very informative and helpful. Though I disagree with your opinion on recommendations. Why is it a bad thing to publicly say nice things about someone with whom you’ve associated? Other people’s words about what you’ve done are much stronger than your own. And it builds dimension and personality into the profile.
    Forwarding to a close associate and friend who is a former recruiter to get her input.
    Thanks again.

    • Andy Foote says:

      Thanks Darlene. To be clear – I’m not saying LinkedIn Recommendations are “a bad thing”. I’m saying that they are redundant and unhelpful to both the user and reader. It’s delightful that people wish to say positive things about one another but they really don’t shed much light in a professional networking setting. Reciprocal, solicited, lacking specifics and neutrality, simply not a good measure of professional ability.

  10. An excellent post: comprehensive, clear and well presented! Thanks for dispelling some of my concerns about his change! And, for the record, I too, DISLIKE the new skill endorsement feature. I don’t need to see 100 faces of people I don’t know when I view someone’s profile.

  11. Andy: Interesting article. I first bumped into the new profile about two weeks ago, but haven’t made the time to delve into it like you have. I think it’s only natural that LI is morphing. After all, it’s in business to make money.

    The fact that there are almost 2x men than women on it makes perfect sense. I’d assert this is because men are “hunters” and women “gatherers”. In other words, men want to keep their options open while women buckle in and keep their heads down.

    As for recommendations, I feel similarly. Though I have recommendations I have never been an advocate of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. When I see a recommendation on a profile I look specifically to see if the person has also written a recommendation for the other individual. If that’s the case I totally disregard it. Yes, I’ve written for a couple of people who have written for me, but only if I want to. Otherwise you’re manipulating the system.

    • Andy Foote says:

      Thanks Carol. The New LinkedIn profile makes it very easy to see those reciprocal Recommendations and that’s a good thing imho, regardless of what you think about them. I don’t think LinkedIn are done with the whole peer assessment thing, in fact I think they’ve only just begun to offer ways in which to appraise talent. I predict we’ll see much more than Recommendations & Endorsements. They (LinkedIn) are amassing a ton of data, they’re in a wonderful position to enlighten and enable.

  12. The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights

  13. Excellent info and insights – thanks so much – lots to look forward to! I thought you’d appreciate a new word and definition coined by my naming firm, Eat My Words: Palgorith: describes the science of when Facebook or LinkedIn shows you who you and someone else have in common. E.g. “LinkedIn’s palgorithm voodoo said we should be friends.” It appears here in the Urban Dictionary:

  14. The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights via @linkedinsights1

  15. @AidaDRojas says:

    The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights

  16. RT @CotterJobs: So What’s TRULY Important On A LinkedIn Profile?

  17. @JukkaAit says:

    The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights käyttäjältä @linkedinsights1

  18. @pdavocabra says:

    ¿Sabiais que @LinkedIn se ha inspirado en @katyperry para crear sus nuevos perfiles?

  19. Laura Jensen says:

    Thank you. I have not been able to find any information about ‘when’ my profile would change anywhere else. Now I finally have found out its not my lack of computer skills that are the reason for it 🙂

  20. Keith Warrick says:

    Great article, Andy.

    I must admit that I have not been exactly bowled over by the new design yet myself and as all things LinkedIn go for me, change has to grow on me.

    Are TAGS still available on the new interface? On the old, they are available in two places on the profile page under CONTACT INFORMATION and then under CONTACTS—>Connections. As I would connect with someone, I would immediately ‘tag’ them on their profile page so that I could catalogue them by their skills. This makes it easier to find them when I’m looking for someone in my network with a specific skill.

    When your first degree network is large, this makes it easier to manage by tagging. I’m guessing tagging is still available on the new interface but now it becomes a two step process instead of one because I don’t see it on the profile page.

  21. PG says:

    I do not like the new look. For example, I went to a connection and then looked at their connections. If I clicked to see their Profile, I then had to go back to the original connection Profile, then go down to that person’s connections, and then go page by page to where I was. It takes about an hour to peruse someone’s connections now.
    Also, putting recommendations at the bottom (which are legitimate) and the silly endorsements (most of which are unsolicited and come from people you do not know well) on top is ridiculous. It is a true “dumbing-down” for LinkedIn, and is another incentive for people to drop LinkedIn and use their time for more constructive purposes.

  22. Chris says:

    I guess the Contact For section also plays a vital role here for many people. It helps in knowing the a person might be interested in connecting for what?

  23. Michael Eckhardt says:

    Congrats to LinkedIn for taking their decent 100% whole product, and doing an update (actually a disruptive update) that was RUSHED out — to meet an arbitrary deadline — to users before the key apps were even ready to be ported over. They’re still not available (SlideShare for presenting PPTs, Amazon Reading List, etc, etc.)

    Note: I’m quibbling more with the timing that with the actual changes.

    Oh brother.

  24. Ann Mann says:

    Hi Andy,

    I TOTALLY agree with you on the endorsement/recommendations fields. I am getting endorsements from folks I hardly know and they aren’t even endorsing me on my true areas of expertise. Recommendations are also a little shady for me, if you don’t “coach” the person on what to say about you when asking for the recommendation. It also annoys me when people recommend each other within the same day.

    This was a great article on the new profile set up and I hope to use pieces of it, when training our candidates that come through our career transition program.

    Ann Mann

  25. @annmann says:

    The NEW LinkedIn Profile Explained. | linkedinsights via @linkedinsights1 #linkedin #profile #branding #marketing

  26. LinkedIn is changing. Are you keeping up with these important changes?

  27. RT @TammyBleck: The NEW LINKED PROFILE explained – finally! Thanks, Andy!

  28. Andy;

    Here is what I think.

    People likely won’t scroll down very far when reading your profile.

    So here is my strategy.

    1. Use the drop and drag to move background and endorsements to the top.

    2. Write up my background saying what I am an expert in. Add 4-6 articles as nice pdfs to the section.

    End the section with Specialities.

    3. Make sure that my endorsements are evidence of my specialties.

  29. Danielle Gayle says:

    The ‘NEW’ LinkedIn Profile explained in depth, thanks a million! I agree 1000% in regards, to the endorsements, they are very much like FB Likes/IG for that matter.

  1. November 21, 2012

    […] and written by impressive supporters then good for you, make ‘em your most visible 3 (the New Profile only shows 3 Recommendations, the rest are hidden in a roll-down) but I fear the vast majority of […]

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