A LinkedIn profile’s an awesome opportunity to shine beyond the traditional resume. Between your job history, publications, endorsements, and connections, potential employers scan your information to see what you can bring to the team that no one else can. But if your profile is riddled with typos or you don’t have an adequate picture, an employer isn’t going to see you as a viable candidate.
We asked 11 entrepreneurs and members of YEC to share the mistakes they see most often and how they hurt your professional image in an employer’s eyes. Here’s what you should avoid:
1. Not Having Enough Recommendations
Recommendations are the easiest way to show credibility, just as reviews are often the easiest way to decide on an online purchase. Spend the time to send a recommendation request to key people that you have worked with in the past. Make sure you pick people who can give unique and specific insight into how you work and why you are the one who gets the job done right.
2. Being Inconsistent
When we review resumes and the LinkedIn profiles of candidates, there are inconsistencies in employment dates and job titles 50% of the time. Candidates also don’t update their profiles often enough. If you are applying for a position, make sure that yours is free of inconsistencies and stays in line with your resume.
3. Sharing Too Much or Not Enough Information
I’ve become a LinkedIn power user lately, and after scrolling through hundreds of profiles, I have seen the extremes. Some people simply don’t include anything—just a job title and timeline—while others have profiles that seem to go on for 10 pages. Since I review many profiles in one day, consistency is nice. Find a happy medium between under- and over-sharing.
4. Using a Bad Photo or None at All
There are a lot of different mistakes job candidates make on LinkedIn, but not having a photo or using a low-quality one is disadvantageous. A job seeker is far more likely to make an impression with employers if she or he has a professional, high-quality photo. The solution is simple: Get dressed up and hire a good photographer.
5. Making Vague Claims of Expertise
When I’m vetting potential hires, I look at LinkedIn to get an idea of their expertise and work history. All too often, I see vague bombastic claims of technical expertise that aren’t backed up by any evidence. If you claim to have web design expertise, link to sites that demonstrate it. If you claim to be a brilliant developer, link to GitHub repos that show your work.
6. Having Too Few Connections
If you worked at a company or on a project before, surely somebody would remember you as having been part of their team. Should nobody care to connect with you on LinkedIn, or should you have a small network, this leaves a lot of question marks. Were you well liked or well received by the people that you worked with? Are you a team player?
7. Having Worthless Endorsements
Recommendations that don’t say anything about you are worthless. This includes sentences without any substance like, “She is great” or “I recommend her.” But you can’t put the blame on the person who gave you the recommendation. Instead, ask them for more context. I’ll also see endorsements from the same few people for every skill the candidate has, which seems odd.
8. Not Showing Who You Really Are
A lot of job candidates look at their LinkedIn profile as an online copy of their resume. Rather than copying and pasting from one document to the other, use this platform as an extension of your resume, and take the opportunity to make your personality leap off the page in your profile. Give potential employers an idea of who you really are beyond a set of skills.
9. Making it Unprofessional
Mixing work and personal information on your LinkedIn profile can make job candidates appear less professional. It’s important to check your profile, previous updates and photos to make sure you’re not showing an undesirable portrayal of yourself. Present your best, most professional side in every aspect of your profile.
10. Not Catching Typos
There’s nothing worse than getting excited about a prospective candidate only to find his LinkedIn profile is riddled with typos. It’s critical to show your future employer you are meticulous and diligent in all things—first and foremost, how you present yourself.
11. Not Describing Your Past Roles
People often leave the description section on previous work experiences blank. While it’s useful to see that someone was a Summer Associate at The Boston Consulting Group, it doesn’t tell me anything about what she did, what kind of projects she worked on, and what outcomes she was responsible for. Don’t write a novel, but make sure it’s easy for an outsider to understand.