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The 7 Deadly Sins of LinkedIn Profiles

LinkedIn has unequivocally changed the nature of business relationships. We are now visible and increasingly interconnected. Detailed career information is out there online for anyone and everyone to see. We share specifics of our job responsibilities, reporting relationships and even our personal networks.

As a result the practice of recruitment has irrevocably changed as well. For the better. This central repository of career information that is called LinkedIn is amazingly powerful in so many respects and growing every day. I do not believe there is a recruiter or hiring manager out there who is not regularly on LinkedIn. As such, if you have any aspirations of changing jobs, getting on a board or simply professionally networking, avoiding the following seven mistakes should help you advance any of the aforementioned professional goals:

1 – No Profile

This may seem obvious but there are still many upwardly mobile professionals who are not on LinkedIn. A common reason I hear is because they don’t want to receive unsolicited overtures. However, sometimes an unsolicited approach can contain the opportunity of a lifetime. Having a LinkedIn profile, even if you are not a job seeker keeps you in the flow of “traffic.” There are news stories as well as professional updates from your friends and colleagues that may be of interest. I view LinkedIn as an enormous parking lot where each of us can have a parking space containing a snapshot of our very best selves. Why not take advantage, you just never know what is going to happen.

2 – No Photo or One that is Unprofessional

Regarding this second “sin,” I have seen it all. Photos depicting a hunter on the carcass of their latest prize, full face helmets, and beach shots in various stages of undress. No judgement on any of these activities but keep these photos on Facebook and Instagram. The only photo that is appropriate for LinkedIn is a professional one. Full face wearing some type of work attire. Not a party dress or a track suit, and no sunglasses please. I am quite unequivocal on this as it will be the first impression that is made. It can mean the difference between a recruiter stopping and considering your background or quickly moving on. No photo is also not ok. We live in a world of photo sharing and selfies. Not having a photo on your LinkedIn profile makes it seem at best incomplete or worse, sketchy and even fictitious.

3 – Too Much or Too Little Information

Some people create a LinkedIn profile and then leave it empty or sparsely completed. Others use it as an opportunity to enumerate everything they ever did over the course of their lifetime. Either of these is ill-advised. If you are going to create a LinkedIn profile do not simply put in your name and location. This sends a chilly message or even worse, that the person is no longer active or even alive. No one knows and many will not bother to find out. Conversely, in a world of 24/7 content coming at us from everywhere too many details diminishes the impact of the profile. If we can’t quickly understand who you are we will look somewhere else for information that is easily intelligible.

4 – Lack of Proper Key Words

The advanced search function on LinkedIn is a Recruiter and Hiring Manager’s dream come true. With this nifty feature we can sort through the 467+ million users with some coherence and deduction. The population of LinkedIn is massive and growing every day and to use it effectively there has to be a way to whittle down the information. Key words are the answer. As such, you need to make sure your profile contains all of the words that are relevant to both your background and experience as well as the target roles you are seeking. Case in point, I so often speak with executives seeking a board role. They may have already sat on the board of a non-profit or small start-up but the word “board” is not on their LinkedIn profile. It should be.

5 – No Connections

As with the case of too little information, there is something off-putting about those with profiles and no connections. Why join one of the largest and most robust networking communities on the planet and not participate? There are no medals for the most connections, but isn’t the point to interface with new people and reconnect with those you may already know?

6 – Being Inactive

For those seriously seeking new employment or a board role, it is important to stay active on LinkedIn. This can mean any of a number of things. For example, join and participate in one of the thousands of LinkedIn groups. This will allow you to network with others who share a particular industry, or affiliation or interest. Within the context of one of these groups, share interesting and relevant content and answer or comment on questions and information posted by others. This positions you as knowledgeable or even a subject matter expert. Sharing updates in the form of interesting articles or even writing an article yourself are other ways of being active on LinkedIn.

7 – Confusing Information

Finally, as with any other presentation of yourself, make sure anything you place on your LinkedIn profile is proofread for accuracy, spelling, and importance. Your profile must be professional not only in its look but in the content presented. Not all information from your resume belongs on your LinkedIn profile. Curate and present your best self in a way that is easily appreciated.

There are over 106 million unique visitors monthly on LinkedIn. They represent over 200 countries and territories and LinkedIn has stated that their user goal is 3 billion. The possibilities are clearly infinite. Best to avoid these easily preventable mistakes.