LinkedIn can make or break your chances of getting an interview—you probably already know this. But just like with your resume, what you leave off your profile is just as important as what you keep on it.
When it comes to the latter, we’ve given you plenty of tips regarding what should be there—from brilliant summaries to killer headlines that attract recruiters. But today we’re talking about the former—all the items you need to leave off. Or, in most cases, remove before you make one more more hiring manager cringe and X out.
I know, that sounds bleak. However, there is a silver lining, and it’s that removing these items won’t take you more than five minutes.
1. Present Tense Verbs in Past Role Descriptions
You might be great at keeping your resume up-to-date (and, if you aren’t, you can start now). But keeping your LinkedIn profile updated is a whole different story—most of us just slap on another position without taking time to update the others.
Unfortunately, few things confuse recruiters more than seeing you use the present tense to describe your accomplishments in three different positions. So, scroll through your jobs, and make sure that achievements listed under your previous roles (everything but your current position) are in the past tense. It may sound trivial, but with hiring managers spending no more than a few seconds skimming your profile—and with the riches of the internet vying for their attention—the smallest mistakes could cause them to click to another page.
2. Microsoft Word Endorsements
Don’t get us wrong, we believe you’re a Microsoft Word expert. But if, under your “Skills and Endorsements” section, Microsoft Word—or even Microsoft PowerPoint—are listed before your more unique skills like programming, image editing, or copywriting, you’re wasting an opportunity to stand out. Either remove your Microsoft Word endorsements completely, or rearrange them so that your more highly-desired skills appear first.
Remember: Recruiters want to know why you should be selected over everyone else, and telling them that you’re well-versed in Microsoft Word—arguably the most common skill of them all—doesn’t help your case.
3. A Full List of Every College Course You’ve Taken
While it’s helpful to include courses relevant to your career under the “Education” section of your profile, hiring managers don’t want to read about every class you’ve ever enrolled in. Which means they’ll start skimming and possibly miss important information if you just throw a bunch of class numbers at them. So, keep only the ones that best present your skills, and remove the others.
Expert tip: Don’t forget to put any relevant classes you’ve taken outside of school at the top of your list. Unlike college courses, these stand out because they show that you take initiative when it comes to furthering your skills.
4. Unprofessional Profile Photos
I’m still surprised by the number of selfies I see on LinkedIn. While you certainly don’t have to be posing in a three-piece suit or a fancy dress, you also don’t want to be the candidate who’s passed on for having a less-than professional photo. Fair or not, it’s the first thing people see.
Replace it with one in which you look likable, competent, and influential. Don’t know which image to use? Try out Photofeeler, a site that lets you upload pictures and discover what others think of you.
5. Long Job Descriptions
Finally, if your profile has paragraph-long job descriptions, it’s time to do some editing. You’re not making recruiters’ lives any easier by presenting your work in huge chunks of text. Regardless of how you format it, odds are they’re going to skim it. So use bullet points (copy and pasted from Word or another writing application) just like you would on your resume. It’ll ensure that anything important will jump out immediately.
Any other LinkedIn red flags I missed? Let me know on Twitter!
Photo of using LinkedIn courtesy of Shutterstock.
A board member of Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs, Kat is either hosting inspiring founders or trekking across cities (Silicon Valley and London, anyone?) to discover the hottest startups. And, when she’s not putting together large-group gatherings for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Kat is planning food excursions to discover the best Taiwanese beef noodle soup in NYC. The only thing she loves almost as much as crafting content as an Editorial Intern at The Muse is studying content as an English Major at Columbia University. Say hi on Twitter @katxmoon.More from this Author