There are numerous things to avoid when creating your LinkedIn profile. We all judge people based on that split-second first impression. And LinkedIn, as a marketing tool for your career management, is no exception. Before we get into mistakes, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, that is the biggest career management mistake you have ever made. It is part of your marketing and sales tools and your professional persona on the internet. Below are some of my recommendations on how to eliminate mistakes and negativity in your LinkedIn profile.
1. Typos and Grammatical Errors
Yes, I have seen people misspell their names. Instantly, what does that tell you about their attention to detail or the emphasis they apply to this valuable platform? When you prepare a LinkedIn profile, always have it proofed by someone for errors as one mistake can raise a red flag.
2. Lacklustre Headline
We read from top to bottom. If you don’t have an enticing and resonating headline below your name and profile photo, you have lost out on a golden opportunity to shine with both the reader and the search engines. Your headline should include key words and articulate your promise of value or service offering. Be succinct. Be powerful. Be impactful!
3. Unprofessional Profile Picture
We have all seen pictures relating to your non-business activities, having fun with your family and friends, holding up a beer glass or a fishing trophy, or dressed in a skimpy t-shirt. How does that impress a hiring manager? Make sure you have a professional photograph with a neutral background, a smile, and wearing appropriate attire where you can be easily recognized.
4. Vacant Summary
This section allows you to eloquently portray your business activities and performance, relaying a powerful message to the reader. Speak to the audience and entice them to click the “See More” link to learn more about you. This section should highlight your past experiences, describing your position and the company, with an emphasis on your success stories. Include metrics where possible, which sell to decision makers.
5. Zero Recommendations
How other perceive you is proof of how good you are in your career. One of the screening processes used by hiring professionals is to review your recommendations. If you fail to have recommendations, you could fail as a candidate. We buy products based on referrals. Why shouldn’t we buy you based on recommendations? Secure true and detailed recommendations from both current and past employers, colleagues, classmates and industry peers. Aim to acquire five recommendations per job.
6. Failure to Customize Your LinkedIn URL
When you signed up for LinkedIn, you were allocated a default URL which either has numbers, letters, or a combination of both, behind your name. If you have not customized your LinkedIn URL to your specific name, that tells me you are sloppy in administering your profile. The benefits of spending two minutes to customize your LinkedIn URL are vast and include an instant 400% increase in the Google algorithm visits to your profile. A personal URL makes you look far more professional and eases the way for people to find you.
7. No Cover Image
If your photo or the graphic behind your personal profile picture is blank, you are again failing to build your brand and your awareness and failing to entice a read of your profile. A graphic or picture in this top section, which is valuable real estate, can rapidly capture a reader’s attention and can swiftly provide the reader with more information about you, depending on the picture portrayed.
8. Not Replying to Messages
The messaging system in the LinkedIn platform is there for a purpose — for you to engage in conversation with persons you want to communicate with. Not replying to messages or taking too long to reply can damage the impact you create. Attempt to reply to messages as soon as possible and if unable to answer in full, send a short message to state that a longer message will be forthcoming.
9. No Listed Skills
Your LinkedIn profile is a venue for executive recruiters and HR professionals to source talent. The Skills section in your profile serves as an internal search engine to enable people to find you. Zero key words will bring zero interest in you. Fill this section with as many buzz words as you can think of, up to a maximum of 100, that someone might use to discover you.
10. Not Following Companies
We all have ideal companies where we would like to be employed. Failure to follow these companies via LinkedIn will reduce your knowledge of what is happening within these entities or institutions. Don’t just follow your past and current employers. Follow your next employer!
11. Zero Groups
LinkedIn has an abundance, possibly millions, of groups you can join. These groups are customized to particular interests, skills, functions and geographic areas, allowing you a platform to engage in conversation with people who have the same interests as you. Not joining groups highlights to me your inability to manage and advance your career.
In summary, one mistake in completing a full profile could eliminate you from a potential opportunity. Use LinkedIn as a multi-media platform to sell your attributes, assets, skills and service offerings, and relay a powerful message.