LinkedIn: Is Your Profile Helping or Hurting You?

Time to beat this drum again! I still see LinkedIn profiles that aren’t doing you any favors and might actually be hurting your chances of being considered for the position you want. LinkedIn isn’t the only tool you should pay attention to in your job search and career management, but it’s a BIG piece of the puzzle.

Are you “on” LinkedIn but basically inactive (limited content in your profile)? Do you visit your profile only every six months or so and make halfhearted stabs at updating it? If so, you probably aren’t getting the value from LinkedIn that you can–and need to have if you expect it to produce results for you when you want to be viewed as a serious candidate for new job opportunities. Prospective employers DO check your LinkedIn profile when they’re vetting you!

LinkedIn Profile: Desirable vs. Requirements

LinkedIn has requirements that profiles are expected to follow, and yours can be downgraded if it doesn’t. For instance, you can’t use as many characters as you want in a given section, arrange all the sections in the order you want, and so on. However, it does allow you to have a good headline and a substantial Summary (key sections), even though it seriously limits how much of your Summary shows initially when people view your profile.

On the other hand, LinkedIn used to emphasize having good recommendations in your profile if you wanted it to be well ranked. Then they decided to add the skills-and-endorsements section and downplay recommendations. This approach has at least two negative aspects:

  1. Recommendations are written by people who know you well, have worked with you (or managed you) in the past, etc. They can speak from a position of knowledge about you. Endorsements don’t require that kind of effort and awareness from the people who provide them.
  2. This leads to a bigger negative–people can, and do, endorse you for skills you don’t have or have but don’t want to use. You need to remove those skills from the section to avoid giving a mistaken impression.

Build Your LinkedIn Brand–Strong & Compelling

In an article titled “When It Comes to LinkedIn, Recommendations, Skills and Endorsements Matter,” Jeff Altman makes this statement about recommendations and endorsements:

“You need to ask people to write testimonials for you. Every time you complete work of significance, ask for a recommendation from those who[m] you positively benefited. Recommend them too. Reciprocity on LinkedIn is always appreciated.

“Only endorse people for skills that are and will be significant for them….Compiling recommendations, skills and endorsements on LinkedIn are a powerful and effective way to build your brand in your area of expertise so that when a role opens that might appeal to you, recruiters, both corporate and third-party, are able to find you and reach out to you to discuss opportunities with you.”

(Maybe he meant “Compelling recommendations…”? That makes more sense.)

Social media plays a greater role today than ever in job search and career management, and LinkedIn still tops the list. You need to take it seriously if you’re trying to boost your career success or planning to conduct a job search. Do what it takes to make your profile work for you, not against you! In other words, make it a regular part of your career planning. I’m betting you’ll be glad you did.

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