Many professionals view LinkedIn as the best way to meet other professionals and an important part of any job search. Given that networking is so critical to professional success, it’s vital you ensure your LinkedIn presence is accurate and engaging.
However, when I review my clients’ profiles, I am often surprised by what I find.
Here are five things to keep in mind the next time you’re tweaking your LinkedIn profile:
1. LinkedIn Is Not Like Other Social Media Platforms
You need to distinguish LinkedIn from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. LinkedIn is a professional networking site, whereas most other platforms are more recreational. Treat LinkedIn as a way to enhance your career, rather than a way to enhance your social encounters with friends. Keep it professional. This isn’t a place to put pictures of your kids or family.
2. Your Profile Picture Should Not Be Your Most Recent Selfie
Did you know LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21 times more profile views and 36 times more messages than those without?
Choose your photo wisely. An unprofessional photo can damage your credibility. Again, keep photos your family (no matter how cute!) on Facebook. Use a professional headshot, if available. At the very least, find the most professional-looking photo of yourself that you have. Have a friend take a picture of you, if need be. Make sure it’s from the shoulders up so the viewer has a clear view of your face. No panoramic pics, please!
3. Don’t Leave Your Profile Unfinished
If it’s important enough to use LinkedIn, it’s important enough to do it right. You don’t want to give people the impression that you don’t finish what you start. Nothing tells a person you’re not totally committed like having an incomplete LinkedIn profile.
If someone sees your profile is incomplete, they will be hesitant to reach out to you. They’ll wonder if you’re even active on the platform! Make sure ever section is filled in. Is your headline complete? Do you have a strong career summary at the top? Do you have more than just your employers’ names and job titles in the experience section?
Talk about your accomplishments. Add numbers where possible. Sprinkle keywords throughout your profile. Fill out the accomplishments section. Add your organizations and certifications. Attach presentations, publications, webinars, videos, or anything else you’re proud of. There is so much you can do with your profile. Use it!
4. Don’t Exaggerate or Oversell Yourself
It is never a good idea to exaggerate your skills or expertise — or worse yet, lie about your experience. You will be found out eventually, and it will tarnish your reputation heavily. Always be honest. It will benefit you in the long term.
5. Be a Well-Rounded Person on Paper
Hiring managers can learn a lot about someone by looking at their outside interests and activities. So, be sure to include in your profile some information about your hobbies and passions.
LinkedIn is a professional social networking site, but no one is a professional every minute of every day. Include information about your volunteer projects, what you do for fun, and anything else you deem appropriate. Demonstrating you have a life outside of work is just as important as demonstrating your professional expertise.
Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, CERW, CEMC, is a certified professional resume writer, career consultant, and the president of Professional Resume Services.