As they do every year or two, LinkedIn has made a major change to their interface and features. If you’ve read anything about it, you’ve probably learned that it has a familiar look and feel – familiar, that is, if you are a Facebook user. The layout definitely feels like Facebook – making LinkedIn more and more the “workplace” version of Facebook.
As with most new roll-outs there are some enhancements, some losses, and some things that just don’t work as planned. And, as you might expect from previous LinkedIn releases, the rollout happened over time. You may have seen changes back at the beginning of the year or you may have just experienced the new format.
In this post, I share with you the changes that will have the biggest impact on your personal brand and career success, along with what you need to do to maximize these changes.
Before we launch into the details, the one big change that I think you will like is the consistent experience, whether you’re using the desktop or mobile version. This will make it much easier to be connected to LinkedIn and enjoy similar functionality regardless of what device you’re using.
The navigation has changed. There are seven primary areas in the navigation bar (top right):
1. Home (this is your feed)
7. Tools (this gives you access to Learning, Post a job, Advertise, Groups, ProFinder, Salary, Lookup, and Slideshare)
As you know if you’ve been reading any of my posts about LinkedIn, your LinkedIn profile is often your first impression for those who want to get to know you. That means it is important to understand the new profile features, revising your profile to deliver the most authentic and positive first impression possible.
Your headshot now shows up in a circle instead of the square, and it appears above your headline – not to the left. Therefore, choose a headshot where you are facing forward so that you can simulate “eye contact” with your audience. The circle provides less room, so it is even more important for you to use a tightly cropped close-up.
Only the first two lines of your summary now show up automatically. Viewers need to click on “see more” to read your entire summary. So those first two sentences are critical. You must use them to entice readers to view the long-play version.
The dimensions of the background image have changed. The new dimensions are 1584×396 pixels. Use this feature to help your profile stand out.
The websites section – which allows you to connect to three sites on the web to amplify your brand message – is no longer customizable. You used to be able to name the websites. Now you just see the actual clunky URL to the site. I have no idea why they would eliminate the option to customize.
When looking at someone’s profile, you used to see their top ten skills in order of how many endorsements you received for each category. Following that, you would see all the other skills for which they are endorsed. In the new version, you only see the top three. That means you need to make sure the top three skills are the most authentic and aspirational – so viewers understand the value you deliver. The good news is that LinkedIn did not remove the feature that allows you to reorder your endorsements. That means you can put the three most important skills in the top spots regardless of how many endorsements you received for them.
In the last round of changes, LinkedIn added a lot of features that allow you to truly customize your profile – making you stand out from your peers. With this update, it seems that the pendulum has swung back to standardization. You can no longer move your profile sections around to feature the most important content up top.
Measuring your brand value just got harder too. The ranking system that shows how you compare to others has been discontinued, with no way to look up historical data on how you used to rank. This was a great way to measure the impact of your brand-building activities and see how you rank in profile views among your peers. Hopefully, this feature will return in their next iteration.
Building Your Network
The new real-time messaging interface allows you to message a connection from virtually any screen when you are on LinkedIn. This makes it easier to keep the conversations going with your connections.
Sadly, advanced search is gone. There is just one universal search box where you can find people, jobs, companies, groups, and schools. You can refine your search by using filter options on the right-hand side, sorting people by:
• Connections (1st, 2nd or 3rd+)
• Current companies
• Past companies
• Profile language
• Nonprofit interests
LinkedIn says they will be adding the option to search postings in a coming update.
The way you do searching for alumni is less straightforward now too. You need to start with a search on schools, and then choose a school. After that, you can search alumni.
Nurturing Your Network
A big loss is the tagging feature that allowed you to create tags and organize your contacts by assigning them one or more tags. The only ways to sort your connections now are by:
• First Name
• Last name
• Recently added
The relationship feature, which allowed you to take notes (only visible to you) about an individual right in their profile, is also gone.
There’s a new “highlights” feature I like (it replaced the “In Common” feature). It shows your common connections, groups, and places you have both worked.
Notifications are now more prominent. When you click on the bell icon in the top navigation, you go to a page devoted to all notifications, including mentions, profile views, likes, follows, and endorsements. It will only show you who shared your posts if they mention you in their share.
In LinkedIn’s press release about the update, they say the algorithm that identifies what shows up in your feed has been refined to get you more relevant content. I’m still testing this out.
Overall, the new LinkedIn interface has a nicer look and feel, but many of the features I had found extremely valuable are gone. Time will tell what LinkedIn members think about this new version and what enhancements LinkedIn makes to it. Let me know which new features you like most and which changes you find most disappointing in the comments section.