LinkedIn is often the first place where a potential employer or networking contact will learn about who you are and what value you can provide. Some argue that your LinkedIn profile is now more important than your resume.
In fact, a client of mine was recently hired for a job after a referral to the company’s CEO and a fantastic phone conversation. The CEO shared with me that she never saw her new employee’s resume, but did check out her LinkedIn profile.
As an important part of your online brand, your profile gives an instant impression, and you want it to be a fantastic one. If you haven’t paid as much attention to your profile as you should, or are looking to kick it up a notch, start by fixing these common LinkedIn faux pas.
1. Unprofessional or Outdated Photos – Your profile photo doesn’t need to be an expensive headshot, but it is important to appear professional and approachable. It’s a good idea to wear something that is a step or two more formal than what you wear to work every day.
You should be the only person in this photo. If your favorite shot is from group photo, ensure that you cannot see your companion’s shoulders, hair or hands in the picture. Also, if you’re not in the food and beverage industry, put the drink down.
Remember to update your picture every 3-5 years so you are easily recognized when you meet someone who has checked out your profile prior to meeting you in person.
2. Excessive Personal Information – LinkedIn allows you to showcase your personality and goes beyond the black and white of most resumes, which can be a powerful tool in helping potential employers or networking contacts learn more about you. This platform, however, is not Facebook. Your marital status, place of birth, family details and political views should not be shared unless they relate directly to your industry.
3. Confusing Job Titles – Review your job titles to ensure that they show career progression and are easy to understand. Streamline titles in a standardized format so that viewers don’t see Coordinator, Marketing in one place and Marketing Coordinator in another.
On LinkedIn, it isn’t as important to use your exact titles as it is to make them easy to understand. I’m not suggesting that you provide inaccurate information, but if your job title was Researcher II, more information would be of great service to your reader. Think about something like Biomedical Statistician (Researcher II) to show the work you did rather than just your title.
4. Generic Headline – Your LinkedIn headline defaults to current role at current company. Your current role is just a small part who you are as a professional. You have 120 characters in this line - put them to use!
Your headline can be a sentence or sentence fragment. For example, ‘Helping small businesses recruit and retain top talent.’ You can also use this space to incorporate keywords into your profile and advertise unique and notable skills. Do you know a code language, have a certification or a particular subject matter expertise? Put that information in your headline, and when recruiters search for those items, you’ll increase your chances of being one of the first profiles they see.
Put yourself ahead of the pack by eliminating these four common mistakes to allow your talent and experience to shine through on your LinkedIn profile.
Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping people advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Learn more at www.alysongarrido.com.
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