Im Ji-yeon began her acting career on stage and in short films before making her feature film debut with a leading role in the 2014 erotic romance Obsessed, opposite Song Seung-heon. Her work in the film won her several Best New Actress trophies, including one from the 51st Grand Bell Awards. In 2015, she landed her first small screen role in the SBS series High Society, in which she received the New Star Award at the SBS Drama Awards. In 2016, she took home an Excellence Award at the MBC Drama Awards for the weekend series Blow Breeze. In 2019, she acted alongside Rain in the MBC drama Welcome 2 Life, which scored her a Top Excellence Award at the MBC Drama Awards. In 2022, she starred in the hit Netflix drama The Glory, which earned her the Best Supporting Actress citation at the 59th Baeksang Arts Awards.

Im Ji-yeon graduated from Korea National University of Arts. In January 2018, the actress was confirmed to be in a relationship with W-Foundation chairman Lee Wook. They broke up a couple of months later. In 2023, it was revealed that she is dating her The Glory co-star Lee Do-hyun.