This article was originally featured in the December 2023 issue of Connect.
Cerell Rivera (Hokkaido)

Recruiter statistics show that anywhere from 70 to 87% of employers use LinkedIn in vetting job candidates. With your LinkedIn profile virtually acting as a second resume, it is an excellent platform for leveraging your knowledge, professionalism, and commitment to growth—essentially a billboard for your career. And just like any billboard, it needs to be eye-catching, informative, and feel like you. This is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to improve your profile and increase your chance of landing that dream job.

Photograph & Background

Selecting the right picture and background image for your profile is crucial. While professional headshots are nice, they’re not a necessity. You can use portrait settings on your smartphone for impressive selfies. Focus on a friendly and approachable smile, a simple background, and attire that suits your desired profession. 

No need to overspend on professional photos or designer backgrounds; it’s about you, not the bells and whistles.


Headlines on LinkedIn are crucial for getting noticed, as they are often among the first things people see during a search. Your headline should be designed to grab attention, communicating your industry, what you do, and a unique skill or quality that sets you apart. It’s a chance to shine and make a lasting impression.

Let’s consider a scenario: picture a potential employer scrolling through countless profiles, searching for that perfect candidate. Does your headline capture what matters most to them? Is it engaging and distinctive enough to make them click on your name instead of someone else’s? These few words you choose hold the power to set you apart and create a lasting impression. When I crafted my own headline, “Chief Dot Connector | Equity-centered Changemaker | Strategic Thought Partner at LinkedIn,” I aimed to convey that I specialize in connecting dots, fostering positive change equitably, and offering strategic insight. Your headline should resonate with your target audience and align with your personal brand.


Crafting the “About” section can be challenging, particularly when it comes to showcasing your accomplishments with humility. It’s like delivering an elevator pitch in written form, and you have limited time to capture someone’s attention and convey who you are, what drives you, and what you’ve achieved. 

To make it easier, consider using a structured approach. Start with one-to-two sentences introducing yourself, followed by three-to-five sentences highlighting your experiences, top skills, and key passions. Share what motivates you and sets you apart. Then, conclude with one-to-two sentences about your future goals and how other members can connect with you.

Keep in mind that the “About” section is also an opportunity to incorporate relevant keywords to make your profile more discoverable, aligning your personal brand with your professional identity.


Maintaining an active presence on LinkedIn enhances your professional image and increases your visibility to hiring managers. It helps build your online professional presence, showcasing your ideas and expertise. Engaging with the LinkedIn community, participating in discussions on the platform, and sharing valuable content are all ways to interact with professionals and potential employers. Joining groups in your industry provides networking opportunities and enables you to showcase your expertise and goodwill. 


Quality endorsements significantly enhance your profile’s credibility. Ask for recommendations from those who know you well, and be strategic in your ask. Consider the timing of your request and the impression you want people to have of you after they’ve read the endorsement. 

Provide an endorsement framework that simplifies the recommendation writing process for those you ask. You might say, “Start with how long you’ve known me or how long we’ve worked together. Explain the context of our relationship. Emphasize a few skills I am good at or share a success from a project we worked on together. Describe who I am on a personal level, and end with a call to action for those reading the review. For example, “If you are looking for a dot connector, Cerell is the one for the job!”

It’s a great practice to proactively write recommendations for people in your network. Don’t wait for connections to ask, just do it. This not only fosters goodwill within your network but also creates reciprocity of endorsements over time. 

Personal Branding

Finally, personal branding is an essential strategy for job seekers in today’s fiercely competitive job market. A personal brand goes beyond answering “why choose you” and offers a comprehensive view of the unique value a job seeker brings to the professional landscape.

I recommend job seekers weave their personal brand into every aspect of their LinkedIn profile. Showcase skills you’ve acquired, position yourself as an expert, and don’t shy away from sharing your interests and hobbies to add depth to your brand.

The beauty of a LinkedIn profile is its dynamic nature, allowing you to iterate and evolve your profile over time. There’s no right or wrong way to present yourself, and you can experiment with wording, making it an ongoing process to reflect your evolving skills and objectives. If crafting a personal brand on LinkedIn feels daunting, don’t worry. You can draw insights from those who know you best, such as former colleagues, managers, family, and friends. Engaging in conversations with them can provide valuable perspectives on the traits, skills, and values that make you uniquely “you.” Their perceptions of you might even surprise and inspire you, boosting your confidence and uncovering strengths and qualities that you might not have recognized within yourself. 

Cerell Rivera has had a remarkable career spanning diverse sectors, from Fortune 100 companies to nimble startups and impactful nonprofits. She has consistently leveraged innovative thinking to develop successful business models and lead global teams to achieve exceptional results. Currently serving as the Chief of Staff for Growth, Performance, and Operations (GPO) at LinkedIn, Cerell serves as a trusted advisor and is responsible for driving strategic objectives, establishing operational rhythms, and leading the Business Partnership & Operations team.

During her time as a JET in Hokkaido, she crafted bicultural curricula and facilitated international exchanges, leaving a positive impact on language learners in various settings. Her dedication continued post-return as she actively engaged with JETAA of Northern California and the Consulate General of Japan, where she assumed roles of JET Interviewer, JETAANC President, and JETAANC Board Member.