How to use LinkedIn\’s cover story feature

Getting your LinkedIn profile to stand out among the sea of millions of users is not easy. One way to make a distinct impression is to use video.

In early 2021, LinkedIn rolled out the “cover story” feature that enables users to embed a 30-second, mini-introduction video into their profiles. Once a cover story is added, an orange ring appears around the user’s static profile photo. When someone visits the profile, a preview of the video auto-plays silently within the photo frame. Clicking on the profile photo plays the full video with audio.

If you’re looking for a way to inject some life into your profile that goes beyond text and images, a cover story video is a great way to go.

“Video has become a key channel to connect, engage, learn, and collaborate, especially in the virtual world of work,” says Charlotte Davies, a consumer communications and career expert at LinkedIn. Based on the company’s recent survey, 80% of hiring managers believe that video has become more important when it comes to interacting with or vetting job candidates.

Benefits to using a cover story on LinkedIn

Featuring a short cover story video on your LinkedIn profile can offer many benefits. First, a video enables you to convey your personality and soft skills in a way you simply can’t with written text alone.

“Unlike text-based profiles, videos often give me an idea about how enthusiastic a candidate is, how good of a communicator they are, and whether they would be a good cultural fit for the company I’m recruiting for,” says Anjela Mangrum, president of Mangrum Career Solutions.

Second, a video creates a more human element to your profile. As Davis says, a short video can “bring your professional story to life and share your career goals in a more human and engaging way.”

Third, a video helps to break the ice with people researching your otherwise silent, static profile. Connections whom you’ve never met may feel more inclined to continue or initiate a conversation with someone they can see and hear, versus someone they’ve only read about on the internet.

Lastly, a profile video helps you stand out from the crowd. With the sea of candidates seeking jobs, founders seeking investment, business owners seeking clients, and entrepreneurs pitching their products, having a video enables you to differentiate your profile from others.

“Applicants with self-intro videos are more likely to stand out simply because it shows their willingness to put in more effort than the average candidate,” says Jeff Lam, senior recruiting manager at Arc.

Tips to emphasizing your personal brand

A 30-second video provides you with one additional opportunity to further communicate and reinforce your personal brand, supplementing other LinkedIn profile elements like your key accomplishments, experiences, and credentials.

To create an effective video, remember the “three S’s” of strong personal branding: Be suitable, selective, and specific. Ensure you have a clear target audience in mind. Decide on the key headlines you want to get across. And define exactly how you want to position yourself.

If you’re a bit camera shy or unsure what to say, start by considering three questions before you record your video.

  1. For whom is this video intended?
  2. Which of their questions would you like to answer?
  3. What action would you like them to take?

Then, explain who you are, answer the question, and communicate the call-to-action. For example, if you’re a:

  • Hiring manager interested in growing your team, describe the nature of your work, the exact candidate you’re seeking, and what steps they can take to apply.
  • Job seeker who wants to stand out to a recruiter, explain exactly what role you’re after and key skills you bring to the table along with the best way to contact you.
  • Career changer who’s trying to recraft your narrative, selectively highlight only those key transferable skills and experiences most relevant to your target role, encouraging people to message you if they know of a promising opportunity.
  • Startup owner seeking funding, describe your product or service, company stage, type of funding you’re after, and the best way to connect.
  • Solopreneur seeking more clients, describe what benefit you provide through your services, and how prospective clients can learn more.

Technical extras to make your video shine

Just as you’ll want to feature a high-quality photo on your LinkedIn profile, you’ll want to invest some effort into recording a video you can be proud of, because its quality will have a direct impact on your personal brand.

I wouldn’t recommend reading a script, word-for-word, from start to finish, which will likely come across too robotic and staged, defeating the purpose of doing this. However, capture and rehearse key talking points before you record so you can come across as polished.

When recording, instead of filming a story directly from the LinkedIn app, try uploading a prerecorded video. Make sure you use portrait mode, and try to record within a well-lit room that doesn’t include any oddly angled lights, which will cast shadows. Further, if you’re afraid shaky hands will lead to a poor-quality video, try using a tripod stand for your phone.

Finally, keep it professional. Getting creative and showing your personality is encouraged, but err on the side of professionalism (which is how LinkedIn first started). I’ve seen cover story videos where people simply upload a Snapchat montage of their personal activities or even videos of their cat (I’m not kidding).

“At the end of the day, showing your humanity to a hiring manager will make you much more memorable than a name read on a résumé or email,” says James Diel, founder and CEO of Textel.

While having a LinkedIn cover story will not make or break you, it can give you a big leg up over others who don’t make the effort to do it. Taking the time to create a short, simple video of yourself is just one more way to separate yourself from the crowd.