Given that 90% of recruiters report regularly checking LinkedIn, it's no surprise that how well-optimized your profile is can mean major things for your job search. But it's not just about strategically adding the right things to your profile — it's about leaving off the wrong things, too.
Below, here are nine things that should absolutely not be found on your LinkedIn, according to the hiring experts we heard from.
"You may have noticed that content on LinkedIn has become more casual. But that does NOT mean it's appropriate to treat it the same way you would any other social media!” Eva Jannotta, an FGB VIP, founder and communications consultant, said. “One of LinkedIn's strengths is that its content is better curated than on any other social network. While it can be good for networking and branding to share some personal announcements, keep pictures of food, your pets, updates about your family, or workout photos for Instagram and Facebook.”
“Don't use a profile picture that's not professional. No pets, significant others, or family members!” Suzanne Speak, an FGB VIP and Senior HR Executive, said. “Your LinkedIn profile picture is intended to portray you from a professional perspective. A picture that includes personal interests, hobbies, or other people will take the focus away from the career-related message you're hoping to convey.”
“Something that shouldn't be included on your LinkedIn profile is proprietary documents or information not solely belonging to you,” Aly Brine, an FGB VIP and Career Alignment Coach, said. “LinkedIn gives you the option to include media such as documents, photos, links and projects that will be featured under each experience. This is a great tool to show recruiters, hiring managers or other folks who's radar you might want to get on a virtual portfolio of your work. Whether you're a creative featuring a website you designed or a data analyst featuring a project, make sure you have permission to use it before you add it.”
“Don’t include your GPA unless a job you are seeking requires it, even if you were a 4.0 or higher,” Carolyn O’Connor, an FGB VIP and Immigration Legal Specialist, said. “The reality is your GPA does not communicate your fit for a position or your ability to do a job successfully.”
“Your LinkedIn should not include your age – because age discrimination is still very real,” Deb Wiley Horner, an FGB VIP and Intervention Specialist, said. “You should also not mention your family status on LinkedIn, because some jobs still discriminate against young mothers.”
Similarly, Suzanne Taylor, an FGB VIP and a Career and Higher Education Coach, warned against indirectly showing your age, too.
“My No. 1 LinkedIn rule is that absolutely nothing on your profile should be older than LinkedIn itself — which started in May 2003,” she said. “Work experience before that is likely irrelevant given the evolution of technology, and it doesn't add to your professional profile. If you graduated from college or grad school before 2003, leave the date off. This basic rule keeps your profile modern and relevant.”
“Avoid talking about your soft skills such as your enthusiasm, outgoing personality or explicitly saying ‘I am a leader,’” Stacy Caprio, Founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing, said. “You can get endorsements for these skills, such as leadership, on your profile, but explicitly stating that you are a leader or a happy person makes your profile look fluffy and makes anyone looking doubt you even are. Getting endorsements from multiple people about these skills speaks volumes however, since it is a third party perspective.”
“Putting your current or hopeful salary on your profile is a huge red flag,” Justin Pincar, Founder & CTO of Achievable, said. “We know that having a fair paycheck is critically important, but putting it front and center before we've even chatted makes it feel like all you care about is the money.”
“Absolutely do not add every last job with long lists of responsibilities,” Rex Freiberger, CEO, Gadget Review, said. “You want someone to be able to skim your page in a couple of seconds and understand who you are, what you do, and what your qualifications are.”
“One item I'd never recommend putting on your LinkedIn: A copy of your resume as an attachment,” Biron Clark, a former recruiter and Founder at CareerSidekick, said. “It's better to make employers and recruiters ask for your resume. Not only does this make you look like a more in-demand candidate, but it also helps protect your privacy and guard against spam and plagiarism.”
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