Did you know that LinkedIn allocates specific character counts to its profile fields? A character constitutes any letter, number, symbol, element of punctuation, or space used on your profile, and LinkedIn has pre-determined the maximum number allowed for each field.

This may at first seem like a limiting constraint but, in fact, LinkedIn has been pretty generous in allocating space. LinkedIn’s prescribed field counts give a clue about their intended use, so it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the parameters. Thanks to Andy Foote, you can see a full complement of LinkedIn character counts in this handy infographic.

Before we get to that, I’d like to talk about three specific character counts that you should know and use to optimise your LinkedIn profile.

Professional headline | 120 characters

This is number one on my list because, in my view, it’s one of the most important fields to get right on LinkedIn.

When someone searches for you on LinkedIn, they will see your name, your headline, your photo, your industry, and your location. Viewers will make the decision to read your full LinkedIn profile based on just these things, so it’s vital to get them right. The headline in particular should summarise your value proposition to potential employers or customers, enticing the reader to click through and discover more.

LinkedIn allocates 120 characters to the headline field, but not all members use the space to its full potential. If you don’t consciously populate your headline, LinkedIn will default fill the field with your current role title and company name. These bare bones don’t tend to make for interesting reading.

Your headline is a one-time only chance to grab attention, spark curiosity, promote your brand statement, communicate your core marketing message, and showcase your expertise. I recommend fully and consciously using your 120 characters to present the fullest possible picture of your offering.

Publisher post body text | 4000 characters

Are you using LinkedIn Publisher yet? If not, you are missing a huge opportunity to build credibility and visibility on LinkedIn and online. LinkedIn states that “publishing allows you to further establish your professional identity by expressing your opinions and sharing your experiences.” If you are wondering how popular the publishing platform really is, LinkedIn reported one million long-form posts had been written on LinkedIn Publisher by February 2015.

When you publish a long-form post, it becomes part of your professional profile, and is shared with your network connections and followers. Posts are searchable within LinkedIn and off the platform, so if you optimise your content with relevant keywords, it can show up in external searches. As an added bonus, LinkedIn members who are not connections can opt to follow you from your post, and will be updated when you next publish on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has shared some tips here to help you write long-form posts. They are worth checking out, whether you are a complete beginner or seasoned blogger.

Andy Foote tested long-form post capacity, and concluded that 4000 characters is a robust general guideline. My last post contained 4563 characters, excluding the title, and was 800 words long. You can view it here. 

Status update | 600 characters

LinkedIn allocates 600 characters to each status update. Are you using your allocation? In fact, are you updating your status as regularly as you could, or even at all?

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, and updating your status is key to maintaining a professional presence. If there’s tumbleweed blowing through your part of the newsfeed, your contacts may assume you’ve fallen off the radar or, worse still, they may even have forgotten about you. This is a situation you need to address.

According to this site, 40% of users check LinkedIn daily, which indicates that your audience is there and waiting. Aim to post at least once a week and, if you are stumped for what to say, check out these 11 LinkedIn status update ideas – they can help you to grow your visibility and credibility on LinkedIn.

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