The professional network for finding jobs, digital networking, and sharing opinions. Unlike other social media networks where most users share their opinions on their spouse’s latest late-night out or trade campy gifs, LinkedIn is meant to bolster the professional pursuits of a business and create a space for personal branding. Think of LinkedIn as your online resume- it’s a professional view of your career.
Because of this, most LinkedIn users dedicate time and effort into keeping their profiles up to date. Unfortunately, some of that time and effort is misdirected.
Does your LinkedIn profile suck? Here are five reasons it might.
The Profile Picture
The man with the overly-quizzical look on his face staring at the camera. The woman with a previous boyfriend not-so-subtly chopped out of the photograph. The one that’s not centered. The one with absolutely no lighting. The one that’s entirely backlit. The way-too-close closeup.
I could go on and on. There are so many examples of horrible profile photos out there that all you have to do is go onto your network and pick them out. In one scroll of my network I found an example of every single one I just listed.
Your profile picture needs to be a professionally-taken headshot. No, not your school photo where you’re smiling awkwardly at the camera. A headshot needs to be focused, personable, and show you off in a good light. Your features should be easily noticeable, and you should be wearing a professional outfit (or, at the very least, a professional shirt).
There seems to be a growing tendency to attempt to have a profile picture that looks “smart.” My advice- don’t go there. These photos tend to be so overdone. “Oh yes, don’t mind me, I always stare at people this intensely with raised eyebrows and without smiling.”
When you’re choosing a profile picture, there’s nothing better than showing off who you are. Love the library? Have a headshot with a bookshelf in the background. Love art? Find your favorite mural and take it in front of that. Your profile picture doesn’t have to be devoid of personality. But it can’t look overdone and it can’t be faked.
On the other hand, just because you love beer doesn’t mean your profile picture should be your last college keg stand. That one should be pretty obvious.
The Cover Photo
The cover photo so often gets missed. It’s not at all uncommon to find a LinkedIn profile that just displays the same boring default blue. Especially when you’re searching for a job, that missing cover photo is a missed opportunity to show off who you are and why you should be hired.
Your cover photo should display your passion, without being overly-personal. Just like your profile picture, it should look professionally done without appearing like every stock image out there. I have one coworker who’s cover photo is a bookshelf, because he loves to read. Another coworker loves to work with data, so he made his cover photo an abstract of different graphs.
The key to a good cover photo is finding a professional image of something you love and that is relevant to your career. If you can find a good stock photo that doesn’t look overly-stocky, the more power to you.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: attempting to impress with your headline so often misses the mark. Instead of impressing, it comes across as condescending and over-done. For example, a great headline shouldn’t read “Tell me how you feel.” You’re a therapist? Great, put down Registered Therapist at Therapeutic Services, Inc. Your experience should tell your story for you.
On the other hand, if you want to show some personality, don’t be afraid to. But keep it short, simple, and eye-catching. A sentence won’t show on a preview of your profile. Usually just three to six words will fit. For example, instead of saying “amazing copywriter who has a side-hustle as a photographer and loves to read,” boil it down to: Creative | Bookworm | Photographer or some such trio. Choose your words carefully.
Every post you like, comment on, or share contributes to the online resume that is your LinkedIn profile. Unless swearing is a part of your personal brand (think Gary Vee), then I wouldn’t recommend it.
It’s okay to occasionally express opinions on politics, although it’s my personal rule not to. If you choose to engage you need to do so in a thoughtful diplomatic way devoid of mud-slinging. Don’t think you can handle it? Stick to the old idiom – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
When you’re using LinkedIn to look for a job or to make sales connections, curate posts that display your passion or expertise. If you’re looking for a job in marketing, then your posts should discuss relevant and cutting-edge marketing news. When you comment on an article, think carefully before hitting send. Is your comment thoughtful? Relevant? Does it display expertise?
Remember, LinkedIn is your online resume. You want it to reflect the best image of yourself possible.
When you’re creating a resume for an interview, most people comb over it several times. Does it fit on one page? Is everything aligned correctly? The same attention to detail needs to happen on your LinkedIn profile.
If you have a description for one past job, you should have a description for all of them. The dates for each award, past experience, or certification should be up-to-date and correct. Your URL should be personalized and not a cluster of numbers. If your coworkers all have company branding on your profile, then it would be a good idea for you to match.
The most important details of your profile should be the first on your list. For example, my profile lists that I know CPR and have my Hubspot Inbound Marketing certification. My Hubspot certification needs to be higher up on my profile than CPR. It’s more relevant to my career, to any potential recruiters, and to anyone else in the marketing industry.
Make It Better
Your LinkedIn profile is your personal marketing to the professional world. For most people, it may be the only self-marketing they do. When you consider your personal brand or what you want to broadcast that represents who you are, what do you see?
Build your LinkedIn profile to match who you want to be, the job you want, and the connections you want to make.
And if you want to talk more social media marketing strategy, get in touch.
Veronica is a University of Maryland graduate and passionate equestrian. She focuses on creating audiences on social media and on maximizing the value of public relations to make New North clients famous.