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Ten LinkedIn Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make

LinkedIn is not only a great place to connect with colleagues past and present, but it’s also a great place to be found as a job seeker, which is exactly why you need a LinkedIn profile that not only helps you get found, but also will entice people to contact you once they view your profile. I see many people making fundamental mistakes as job seekers that actually work against them in this aspect. If you’re going to spend time putting together a LinkedIn profile, you probably want to maximize your chances of being contacted by the right people, right?

With that in mind, I’ve created a list of things to check for, along with my reasoning. Just like any Web site owner, you want your LinkedIn profile to stand out and get clicked on! As a job applicant, you want the same thing, so read on.

1. You don’t display your personal photo.
It all really comes down to having social media credibility or not. There are too many fake profiles on LinkedIn, so you want to show that you’re real. If you’ve taken the time to complete your LinkedIn profile, why not display your photo? Not doing so just raises too many potential questions. And company logos or photos of pets obviously have no value here.

2. Your profile headline isn’t branded enough.
See that space underneath your name? That’s your professional or profile headline. It will appear in search results next to your name, as well as next to any questions you ask or answer. It is, in essence, your elevator speech in a few words. Are you just putting your title and company name here? Don’t! This is the place where you need to appeal to anyone who finds you in a search result to reach out and look at your profile. Your profile headline is the single most important piece of real estate on your LinkedIn profile, and you need to brand it as such. This really ties into personal branding as a job applicant.

3. Your status update isn’t appealing.
This is that “What are you working on?” box known as a status update. Assuming someone finds you and looks at your profile, chances are they’re going to be looking at what you write here simply because it appears  underneath your headline profile. What do you write here? Many people in transition note that they are looking for a job here. How do you use your status update? It’s part of your branding exercise, and it should be something appealing that will both inform the reader of your latest activities as well as hopefully add to, not subtract from, your LinkedIn brand.

4. You don’t list enough companies you worked for or schools you attended.
One of the ways people find you on LinkedIn is through searches on company names or schools. If you’re only listing your current company and/or not even displaying your college, you’re potentially missing out on being found. I did my junior year of college abroad in Beijing nearly twenty years ago. I had been out of touch with all of the fifteen or so Americans that were there that year. Two of those fifteen have found me on LinkedIn! And another high school friend who I lost touch with found me this week on LinkedIn. They wouldn’t have found me had I not listed my high school name and the school where I did my junior year abroad on my profile. Companies are even more important in that there are potentially more colleagues that may be trying to find you or recruiters trying to network with you. You may be missing out!

5. You don’t have three recommendations.
This is the same as not having your personal photo on your profile. Why? When you sign up for LinkedIn and first fill out your profile, the site recommends that you write three LinkedIn recommendations. You need to do this in order to get your LinkedIn Profile to 100 percent completion. Job postings on LinkedIn similarly require three recommendations. These recommendations can only work in your favor, so you should have at least three of them.

6. You have too few connections.
This is a topic for debate, but too many people have too few connections on their profile, and thus are not being found. The idea is simple: when you do a search, you’ll see results from your network, and vice versa. So the more connections you have, the more search results you will appear in pure and simple. Combining with this is the fact that the concept of windmill networking is about finding value in online networking with people that you don’t know. So what are you waiting for?

7. You don’t list three Web sites.
LinkedIn gives you the ability to list three Web sites on your profile. Are you taking advantage of it? Do you have a Twitter profile or other social networking profile that you want to advertise? Company Web site? A blog that you enjoy reading? Anything that you want to be associated with should be listed here. You’ll be adding to the search engine optimization of your own Web sites just by the fact that you list them here.

8. You don’t claim your personal URL.
When you sign up for LinkedIn, your receive a public URL that you can then include on your email signature or wherever else you want to lead people to your profile. You can customize this when you edit your profile. Claiming your name here is one of the first things you should do on LinkedIn. For instance, I can memorize my LinkedIn Profile URL, which is, because I customized the last text to “nealschaffer.” If you have a common name, make sure you claim your LinkedIn URL before others do! As a job applicant, you can definitely stand out with this little tool.

9. You don’t have a branded summary rich with keywords.
Assuming that someone finds you in a search result, likes your profile headline, and isn’t scared away by your status update, the next most important part of your profile will be your summary. This is the chance to fully brand yourself as a job seeker and ensure that any keywords that you want associated with yourself are found here. You also want to write something compelling, just as you would in the executive summary of your resume. This is your stage to tell the world who you are and what you can do! Utilize it to your fullest advantage.

10. You don’t list past job descriptions.
Even if you’ve listed positions at companies that you previously held, it means nothing if you don’t have any job descriptions. Job descriptions provide the perfect opportunity to pepper your profile with keywords that will help you get found. Take advantage of it.

Did I miss any that you’d like to share? Let me know! And if you didn’t make any of the above mistakes, congratulations! Your LinkedIn Profile is in good shape.

Originally published on NewGradLife