The most common mistakes people make in their LinkedIn profiles are to leave most of the fields blank, use a generic headline like “Unemployed” or “Seeking new opportunity” (no one is going to click to view your profile with such a bland, undifferentiated headline on it) and to leave a blank space where their profile photo should be.
That’s a huge mistake! When we can’t see your face, we instantly imagine you looking like Jason in “Friday the 13th” or the Phantom of the Opera.
You don’t have anything to remove in your LinkedIn profile Jeannette, but lots of LinkedIn users do. Here are five things for every LinkedIn user to take out of their profile right away:
1. An unprofessional profile photo
Too many LinkedIn profile photos are blurry, in weird settings, or just bad photos that don’t represent their owners as professional people. You don’t need a studio head shot for your LinkedIn profile. You can have your friend take a picture of you with their phone. Just make sure it’s a head and shoulders shot that lets us imagine that you could hold a job. That’s not too high a bar!
2. Unprofessional blog posts or comments
It’s astounding how some LinkedIn users leave horrible, hateful comments and say awful things in their published blog posts. I’m all for authenticity but do these folks understand that anyone can read what they’ve written? Get rid of anything mean-spirited on your LinkedIn profile if you want to viewed as a mature professional.
3. Bad recommendations
No one leaves negative recommendations on LinkedIn as far as I know — and if someone tried to leave you a negative recommendation you wouldn’t have to publish it on your profile — but plenty of people have sub-par recommendations on their profiles anyway. That’s because they accept any old recommendation that anyone writes for them. Some of these recommendations are so bad you wouldn’t want them on your profile!
Here’s an example. This is a recommendation for a Purchasing Agent:
“Sally always arrived at work on time, and was efficient in her tasks.”
That would be a great recommendation if you were sixteen years old and had just finished your first part-time work assignment, but it’s not a good recommendation for a grown-up Purchasing Agent to display on their LinkedIn profile.
Your brand is not “I am punctual and efficient in my tasks.” Hold out for stronger recommendations than that!
4. Proprietary information
You can upload documents and images to your LinkedIn profile, and I hope you do! However, leave out any proprietary information from past employers or clients. Proprietary information could include charts and graphs, proposals, drafts of press releases or plans, and anything else that a company doesn’t want publicly shared.
5. A third-person Summary or bio
Don’t let anybody talk you into writing a third-person bio or Summary statement like “Joe Schmoe is a titan of industry and a leader among entrepreneurs here in Townsville. Joe is a pioneer in blah blah blah.” Write about yourself in the first person, like this:
I got interested in forecasting and modeling during grad school, and I’ve been a Finance Manager with a modeling/forecasting passion ever since. I lead the Business Planning team at Acme Explosives, the country’s largest maker of modular stick dynamite products for the coyote market.
Your LinkedIn profile is your public face to the professional world. Make sure it’s doing its job for you!