With nearly 740 million users LinkedIn is an important place to be seen if you’re looking to take the next step in your career. But just being present isn’t enough to land yourself that perfect role.
With so many profiles to compete with, you need to make sure yours stands out from the crowd. And that means avoiding common mistakes like these...
1. Using the wrong photo
Or worse, no photo at all, which is the quickest way to ensure that people scroll past your profile without stopping. LinkedIn may be a professional platform but it’s still all about people. Which means we need to be able to see your face. And not your face with sunglasses on / your dog on your lap / the Spanish coastline in the background. Think about how you present yourself in a job interview and make sure your profile picture reflects that.
2. Making your job title your headline
Your profile headline is your equivalent of a strapline. It should sum up not only what you do but the skills you offer and what makes you unique. This is especially important if you’re job hunting and want to reflect your future rather than current employment status. Rather than saying ‘Marketing manager’ try ‘Marketing expert specialising in the charity sector’ or ‘Running creative digital marketing campaigns for growing start ups’.
3. Not using the summary section
Writing about yourself isn’t easy but the summary section of your profile is an important opportunity to introduce yourself to potential employers. Remember, no one will see beyond the first two or three lines without clicking ‘show more’ so make sure to start with something punchy. Don’t be afraid to bring your personality and your story into it, but always remember who you want to read it and the impression you want to give.
4. Talking in the third person
You wouldn’t talk about yourself in the third person at an interview so don’t do it on LinkedIn. Your profile should reflect you, it should be written in your voice and should allow people to get a sense of who you are before they even meet you. Using the third person voice creates a sense of distance that won’t help the relationship building process.
5. Not being specific enough
When it comes to your experience, don’t be vague. Talk about the specifics of key projects you worked on, for example, such as the size of the team you led or the budget you were responsible for. Also keep your industry up to date so people who are searching within specific parameters can find you.
6. Using off-putting buzzwords
If you’re a “passionate, motivated” person then unfortunately you’re likely to put people off. Not because these qualities aren’t valued but because the words have been overused. Instead of relying on buzzwords, share specific examples that show you are passionate and motivated rather than having to actually say it.
7. Not including contact details
You can’t message someone outside your direct network unless you have a premium LinkedIn account. Even if a potential employer is able to do so - or if they’re already connected to you - they may be concerned about how frequently you check your account. Make sure your contact details are up to date and available on your profile and consider including them in your summary too, so that they’re available to anyone who might want to get in touch with a job opportunity.
8. Forgetting that people are watching
When you update your LinkedIn profile, your connections can see the changes you’ve made. This might not be a problem if you’re coming back after a career break but if you’re looking to change jobs then you probably don’t want your current boss to catch on too soon. Update your privacy settings by clicking on your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of the screen to ensure that you don’t share more than you want to.
9. Skipping the personalised message
If you’re actively using LinkedIn to make connections with people - and you should be - then don’t just click the ‘connect’ button. When the pop up box gives you the option to ‘Add a note’, do it! This allows you to personalise your connection request and gives you more of a chance of the person on the receiving end accepting it.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just started using LinkedIn or you’ve had a profile set up for ages, the key is to ensure that it is working for you. Eliminate these mistakes, start investing some time in building connections and you will be on your way to your next career move.
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This blog post was originally published in June 2019. It was updated in March 2021