When somebody asks you what you do for work, chances are you’ll reply with your industry: “I work in IT” or “Oh, I’m in retail” or “I’m an administrator”. You can specify further if the person is curious or if you know each other well enough to go into detail.
LinkedIn does the same: when you join the platform, it will ask you about your industry. It applies to individuals’ profiles and company pages alike.
Every industry comes with a few sub-industries, as it were. Let’s take a look at what sectors are available in LinkedIn’s settings this year and why they matter in the first place.
In the simplest terms, the LinkedIn industry list is a setting that you can apply to your profile or company page. The immense number of LinkedIn users are classified into various Industry Sectors.
If you are using LinkedIn to hunt for jobs, the industry your profile displays in dictates the positions that recruiters will reach out with.
So, if you notice some nonsense offers coming your way, you should check what industry option you chose for your profile. Make sure that, when people search for talent, you are being found for the key terms you want to be found for.
Like some other options on LinkedIn, the industry sector list can be tricky to find. You will have a much easier time of it if you log in on a desktop, rather than via the app. If you go about this on mobile, you won’t even be able to see your Site Preferences.
Thankfully, this option doesn’t require you to have a Premium account. Just take a few minutes to access LinkedIn from a desktop or your laptop.
On your navigation header, go to “Me”, click the drop-down arrow, and select Settings and Privacy. You will see a few different tabs. Go to the one that says “Account” and navigate down to your Site Preferences.
In your Site Preferences, you will see a setting called “Name, location, and industry”. This is what you’re looking for. Click on “Change” (to the right of the setting name), and you will get a pop-up box.
The pop-up box will display editable fields in your Profile. Scroll down until you see the Industry field. Click on the drop-down arrow, and you will see the LinkedIn industry list. From there, just select the option that represents your sector.
This is a very real and very frustrating possibility. Quite a few people read through the whole list and end up annoyed because none of the provided labels really describe what they do. If this happens to you, consider the specific issue.
Usually, this “industry misfit” problem happens for one of two reasons:
- You are involved in more than one sector, or
- Your exact sector is not represented.
In other words, you work in a sector that spans multiple industries (e.g. manufacturing), or your work is very specialized (e.g. you’re a niche consultant). How do you optimize your LinkedIn profile for that?
Your best bet would be to choose the closest denominator for your Industry section and make up the rest in your About section. First, pick whichever label from the industry list is the most important to you. What comes closest to what you do?
To make that decision easier, try to consider it from your customer’s perspective. What kinds of people would you like to have as your clients? Which industry would such people associate with you? Choose that.
Then, consider the information you would want to include but your choice from the industry list doesn’t cover. Convert it into keywords. Include those phrases in your About section. Mention all the sectors that apply to you. Add the terms that describe your target customers, too.
True, it’s a bit of a roundabout method. Choosing a sector for your profile shouldn’t be that complicated. But since the LinkedIn industry list is the way it is, this is the next best solution. Be strategic about the keywords you include and hopefully will find you for the work you want to be found for.
This year, LinkedIn took its industry codes from Microsoft, and you can find those right here. However, not all of them are supported on the platform.
To see the full list of LinkedIn codes that correspond to the North American Industry Classification System, you’ll need to look at their own list.
There are also differences between the LinkedIn industry list (which is the same for people who use the Recruiter plan) and the list that is specific to Sales Navigator.
The Sales Navigator list includes both specific industries and their sub-areas. This makes targeting your chosen audience far easier. Keep in mind, though, that some sectors won’t show up in the drop-down menu.
This applies to industries that are very niche. If your sector feels like it should be on the list, but you are not seeing it, try manually typing it in to see if it will appear as an option.
The LinkedIn industry list, which applies to general users and Recruiters is far less specific than the Sales Navigator list. The entries are more generic, though still numerous.
Here’s a neatly compiled cheat sheet of all the industries on the list this year. Each main category is bolded, and its sectors are listed as bullet points.
Just use the Find function in your browser (Control + F) or Find in Page (if you’re on mobile) to find the industry or sub-category you’re interested in.
Energy and Mining
Recreation and Travel
Hardware and Networking
Wine and Spirits
Media and Communications
Software and IT Services
Transportation and Logistics
Wellness and Fitness
Because it directly determines who sees your company page or your profile. Reach and target audience are always hot topics, but there are precious few guides that tell you how to keep track of who actually sees your content.
It may well be that the audience you’re actually reaching is from a different industry than your target demographic. In that case, you have to review your strategy. Figure out what you have to change in your settings or your approach to redirect your content to the eyes you want to see it.
On the flip side, if you are indeed reaching people from the industries you want to reach, this will give you quantifiable confirmation. It's always great when you see your efforts landing where they should. You can also use your insight into the LinkedIn industry list to boost your reach further. See what has been bringing you the best results and do more of that.
In short, the LinkedIn industry list matters because it decides how many eyes see your profile or company page. If you can figure out how to utilize it correctly, your presence and influence on the platform will skyrocket.
LinkedIn classifies its pages and its many users by their respective industries. This is essential filter recruiters use when looking for new talent. It is also used by salespeople (LinkedIn users who have a paid Sales Navigator account).
Moreover, those who advertise on LinkedIn use the industries list as an Ad delivery filter. In other words, it determines ad targeting. The industries list affects even the posts that appear in people’s feeds. If you want, you can get insight on your posts, showing how many views each gets per industry.
The industry lists available to salespeople and recruiters are not entirely the same. The Sales Navigator industry list is more detailed, with more sectors available as sub-categories. Even then, sometimes, your work doesn’t fit in the prescribed labels.
In that case, try typing in your sector and see if it comes up. Some niches aren’t displayed by default but they are still available. If not, just choose whichever industry is the closest to what you do, and include relevant keywords for the others in the About section of your profile.
You can do this from your Site Preferences, under Name, location, and industry. That’s in your Account Settings, under “Me” in your navigation bar. Just make sure to log in to your LinkedIn from a laptop or desktop computer. Site Preferences are not visible from the mobile app.