5 Mistakes You’re Making on Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is a powerful tool, but use it ineffectively and it’s just one more social media distraction that we have to keep up with.  If you create an all-star profile on LinkedIn, it will appear at the top of your Google results.  Why is this important? 

Most employers today are looking online to find out more about you.  In fact many employers are using LinkedIn to source new talent to recruit.  No longer is your story told solely through your resume and cover letter.  It’s told online.  And LinkedIn is the number one place to tell that story, and tell it loud.  I get asked a lot of questions about LinkedIn profiles and I’ve realized there are a few common mistakes people make when it comes to their profile:

1. Not Including Rich Media

LinkedIn is now a portfolio, not just a profile.  You can upload all sorts of files (videos, slideshows, images, pdfs, and links to external sites).  This rich media should be used to showcase all the great things you have done, whether it’s an article you wrote, a picture of an event you planned, a brochure you designed, a video you were in, etc.  Employers love to get a better sense of your quality of work and who you really are.  This is one way to not just tell, but show them.

2. Having a Nondescript Headline

The headline is the blurb that appears just under your name.  It’s one of the first things people will see about you on LinkedIn.  How would you describe yourself in just a few words?  It doesn’t have to be profound, but you don’t want to leave it blank or say something simple like “student” or “marketing professional.”  Add some detail and personality in there.  Think about leadership, volunteer, and internship positions you’ve held.  Also consider where you want to go.  For example, “Former Student Body Vice-President/Aspiring Marketing Researcher” would work well.

3. Using an Unprofessional Photo

When I talk to employers about what they want to see from young professionals online, the number one answer I get is “a professional photo.”  No selfies, no other people, no pictures of you “out and about.” Pretty simple.

4. Writing a Lackluster Summary

The summary is the blank white box that appears just under your name, headline and photo on your profile.  It’s where most people get stumped when they are creating their LinkedIn profile because it’s tough to figure out what to put here.  What do people want to know?  An easy way to break it down is into three parts:

  • Where you are

  • Where you’ve been

  • Where you’re going

Not geographically, but professionally.  It’s the same way I recommend that people answer the interview question, “Tell me about yourself.”  It’s structured and will provide you with an easy outline to give employers the info they want to know about you.  Try to incorporate keywords into the summary, as that is how employers search for new talent on the site.

5. Only Including an Experience Section

The Experience section is the bulk of your profile, but it shouldn’t be the only section.  LinkedIn allows you to add other sections such as volunteering, courses, projects, and publications.  One of the benefits of LinkedIn (and reasons employers look at it) over your resume is to get a better sense of you as a whole and these sections are the way to show it.

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Your LinkedIn profile could harm or help you.  Make sure it does the latter by avoiding these mistakes!