Interests are probably the most underrated aspect of your LinkedIn profile. They’re so far down in the profile structure that most people forget they’re even there. They just click on a few suggestions when setting up their profile, never to be seen again.
This is a mistake, though. Keeping on top of your interests provides subtle but valuable benefits that will help you narrow down your job search and your networking opportunities, and ultimately a salary.
Here’s the process to add new interests to your profile, plus a few bonus tips on how to get the most out of them afterward.
How to add interests to LinkedIn
Managing your interests isn’t as straightforward as the rest of your profile, unfortunately. For any other section, you’d just visit your own profile page (hopefully an all-star LinkedIn profile now) and click on the edit (pencil) icons in the top right-hand corner of a given section.
Interests don’t work quite the same way. You can remove interests listed on your profile, but you can’t add them from your profile. Check out the screenshot below; notice how you can click the “following” button to unfollow someone from your profile, but there aren’t any suggestions to add them?
Adding interests to LinkedIn can only be done outside of your profile, weirdly. Your only option is to click on the “follow” button that accompanies certain people or pages. Those can include:
- Company pages
- School pages (like your alma mater)
Take a look at the screenshot below. You can tell that somebody is an influencer when their profile sports the LinkedIn badge beside their name. From there, just click on the “follow” button to the right of the profile picture, and you’re all set!
It works the same way for schools, groups, and company pages once you learn how to add interests to LinkedIn the first time
If something changes, then you can always check LinkedIn’s official documentation.
Also follow certain hashtags on LinkedIn
Those are just official interests on your profile, but there are other ways to follow new topics on the platform. Learn how to search for hashtags on LinkedIn to stay on top of news in your industry.
There are a few ways to follow hashtags. You can do so from these places:
- The home tab (or newsfeed)
- The network tab
- Directly on posts
- Through a bulk hashtag search
- The LinkedIn News sidebar
Learning how to add interests to LinkedIn will help skew your newsfeed toward the topics you choose through hashtags. Interests take the form of individual people, schools, companies, and groups, but hashtags help you stay on top of broad concepts, like an industry, discipline, or a trend. It’s basically an alternative way to add interests to LinkedIn on a more personal level.
For example, I follow plenty of people in the marketing space, but I also follow hashtags for certain aspects of digital marketing that are more relevant to my own job. That’s why I follow #SEO and #content instead of just #marketing.
Why adding interests to your LinkedIn profile matters
Interests take so little time to set up that it’s kind of silly not to do it, given the benefits—which are modest but helpful. Here’s why it matters:
- Industry interests add relevancy to your profile
- Some interests could add important keyword associations to your profile for recruiter searches.
- You’ll appear on top of industry trends, which can give you an edge in applications.
- You’ll have new engagement opportunities to improve your LinkedIn impressions.
- You’ll appear more credible and experienced to hiring managers.
Those are pretty solid benefits for a few minutes of work. Follow it along with these other LinkedIn best practices and you’ll be in good shape to start attracting more profile views in short order.
Improve your profile’s keyword optimization
Adding certain interests to your profile could help the LinkedIn algorithm to figure out how your profile correlates to particular positions and industries. This is only one of about 10 places that you can optimize on your profile, but it still helps you show up for recruiter searches.
The LinkedIn algorithm factors in pretty much every part of your profile to serve up search results for recruiters and hiring managers, so it only makes sense to help it find you.
Gain access to new ideas, trends, and tips
Your interests affect what you see—that’s another one of the platform’s algorithm’s at play. Proactively finding interests in your desired industry will put more relevant content in your feed.
This, in turn, gives you several opportunities:
- Learning about new tools and software.
- Aligning your personal brand with industry leaders.
- Getting the inside track on events (especially virtual ones).
- Insights on how to break into an industry.
Case in point: I followed this person and got access to a new feature of the company’s software, and I adjusted my marketing strategy accordingly at work.
At the very least, following influencers and companies can arm you with the concepts and industry lingo for interviews.
Find new engagement opportunities
Knowing how to add interests to LinkedIn lets you engage with the very people who are in a position to hire you! That’s a huge opportunity, so long as you’re willing to put in some time to work at it.
Pro tip: only official influencers on the platform will show up as “interests,” but you should follow anyone interesting in your field—with or without that designation.
Engaging with people and company pages is one of the best things you can do to increase your LinkedIn impressions and profile views. The fact of the matter is that a certain amount of people will always check out your profile. Why?
- Sometimes it’s out of curiosity.
- Some people keep an eye out for freelancers.
- Good managers are always looking for valuable hires.
I certainly keep an eye out for valuable professionals and I’m just a mid-level employee, as of writing. My boss relies on me to chime in on the hiring process for our marketing team, to stay on top of new industry trends, and to source candidates for freelance contracts and full-time positions alike. I’m probably not the only one with those responsibilities, either.
Simply being seen as part of the discussion will improve your visibility, plain and simple.
Gain credibility with hiring managers
Real credibility is built on experience, character, and accomplishment. There’s no shortcut around real work experience (and earning some LinkedIn recommendations along with it), but you can show off your character and insights when you start conversations with influencers in the industry you want to join.
The best part is that some of those people will view your profile—and when they do, they’ll see your badass work history and portfolio projects… if you’ve put in the work to find and complete them.
At the very least, you’ll become a known entity to those hiring managers and learn about their values, how they think, and what’s important to their respective companies.
That’s the long and short of how to add interests to LinkedIn! Take 5-10 minutes out of your day to add the right ones to your profile and you’ll set yourself up for success with ease.
Happy hunting, folks.