LinkedIn, while a boon to recruiters and job hunters alike, has spawned some interesting practices in the name of the job search.
If you’ve spent only a brief amount of time setting up your profile, your chances of being sought on LinkedIn for your expertise are quite remote — especially if it fails to represent your core brand value and or highlight achievements.
However, you can take matters into your own hands to turn this situation around. First, take a look to see if you are committing these common mistakes:
Setting up your LinkedIn profile like your resume. Dumping the contents of your resume straight into your LinkedIn profile is a huge mistake. After all, your resume is usually created to fit on 1 to 3 pages in hard copy form, but writing for the Web is much different.
For instance, you might have plopped your traditional resume summary paragraph directly into the LinkedIn profile Summary section (which appears at the top), but if you don’t break this information up for the reader, it will be nearly impossible to navigate online.
In addition, many job hunters don’t realize that online readers are an extremely fickle and impatient audience. Given that it’s unlikely others will scroll down to read your Experience section in detail, it’s best to put a quick, brand-focused snapshot of individual achievements right into the Summary.
I recommend pulling out a composite of your past, including job titles, individual accomplishments, and notable positions (such as community leadership or national speaking engagements) to include in this area, in addition to stating your goals and value offering in this section.
If you don’t do anything else with your LinkedIn profile, at least tweak your Summary in this manner – and use all 2,000 characters. This will ensure that recruiters doing a brief sweep of your background won’t miss salient points.
Not setting up your LinkedIn profile like your resume. For some reason, all the principles of effective resume writing seem to fly out the window when job hunters create their LinkedIn profiles.
Jobs from 1975, titles that state “Unemployed” in lieu of an occupation, and overly verbose explanations of job duties vs. achievements continue to appear on too many profiles to count.
Here’s a tip: if it wouldn’t normally appear on your resume, consider leaving it off your LinkedIn profile.
Older jobs that can signal your age, for example, should be left off the profile and merely listed in the Summary. LinkedIn also asks you for your birth date and year of college graduation, but these values are not required.
Also, just like a resume, your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t resort to generalities that fit all of your peers. Online readers will grasp your brand value faster if you add relevant accomplishments, clearly defined with dollar figures, percentages, and other quantifiable numbers.
Failing to use Contact Settings properly. Joining LinkedIn as a job hunter effectively tells the world that you’re ready to take your search seriously.
Unfortunately, some professionals who use the site leave their profiles virtually locked down and therefore inhibit any form of connection—either because they are maintaining a confidential job search or because they fail to understand the reasons behind the site.
If you haven’t already done so, examine your Contact Settings to ensure that you’ve indicated willingness to accept Introductions, InMail, or some combination of these plus OpenLink messages.
In addition, you’ll want to check the Opportunity Preferences section to verify that you have at least checked off boxes for “expertise requests.” Doing so will ensure that others can feel comfortable approaching you.
Of course, for those openly searching for work, I recommend enabling settings for other values such as “consulting offers” and “career opportunities.” Don’t forget that you can also add a phone number in the Personal Information Section, as some recruiters will skip you in favor of candidates they can reach more easily.
In summary, keep in mind that your LinkedIn profile can serve as an online resume. However, to be truly effective in a job search, the profile should borrow some elements from a traditional resume, and leave others behind.