Your professional image is largely determined by what’s on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t think for a minute that any — and I mean any — employer who considers hiring you won’t Google you and vet your LinkedIn profile.
What would you like them to find there?
I recently offered to review 20 people’s LinkedIn profiles for free, and I got an overwhelming response to my offer. What I learned through the process of conducting these reviews rather astounded me.
Here’s what potential employers and clients will see in most profiles:
1. Spelling, grammar and punctuation errors in the main profile. Don’t let this happen. Find a good editor to review your profile!
2. Recommendations containing spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Have someone check these and if there are errors, ask your recommender to replace the recommendation. Most people are very cooperative — I’ve made these requests myself!
3. No picture, a blurry picture, a picture with 2 people in it, or a picture with a busy background. I understand some people have privacy considerations that raise concerns about posting a picture on LinkedIn. If you do choose to post a photo, however, make it a head shot with a plain, light background. We’re shooting for the professional look here!
4. Websites like “My Company” and “My graduate school.” These titles don’t provide much information. Thankfully, it’s easy to personalize your URLs – just choose “Other” and write in your specific website description.
5. Public profile URLs with lots of numbers, letters and slashes at the end. You can customize your URL to end with your name. Is that name taken? Try last name followed by first name, or use an initial or two, or insert dashes — you can figure this one out. (Read more about this in my post Should I Include My LinkedIn Profile URL on My Resume?)
Here’s what potential employers and clients will NOT see in many cases:
1. Consistency. From one job description to the next, there are often discrepancies in format and structure. Consistency is extremely important in any resume-like document! If you have a heading that says “Major Accomplishments,” use it in all positions where you had major accomplishments. If you are writing in the third person, write everything in the third person. If you use periods at the end of your bullets, do it everywhere. Capisce?
2. Recommendations. If you own a business or are looking for work, it is especially important to use this opportunity to have people sell you!
3. Descriptions of your job duties and accomplishments — why would you leave these out? It’s okay on your 10th job in the list to leave out the bullets, but make sure you provide a description of what you did at your jobs. Start your phrases with verbs (past tense verbs for past positions, present tense verbs for present positions). Let us know not just what you did but what you accomplished. The more concrete and quantifiable the better. You can also attach a resume for this purpose if you download the application Box.net.
4. School activities and sometimes degrees. If you got a degree or participated in activities while in school, list them!
5. Applications. I recommend checking out the partner applications available through LinkedIn. You can attach documents, recommend books, and do many other things with these useful tools. Find out what’s available — and use it!
If you avoid these errors and omissions in your LinkedIn profile, you will stand out in a positive way to the people reading it. Why would you take a chance by doing anything else?
If not, this book is for you. In my do-it-yourself Kindle book, How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile… And 18 Mistakes to Avoid! I provide you with 18 detailed strategies and writing tips that other “LinkedIn experts” don’t cover. First I tell you how to get found on LinkedIn, and then I tell you how to keep people reading.