The team at digital selling firm Vengreso was ready to hire an instructional designer. They found someone on LinkedIn who seemed perfect for the job, and he likely would have gotten an offer after a cursory interview. But there was just one problem, says co-founder and Chief Visibility Officer Viveka von Rosen: He had no contact information listed.
That was the “final straw” from an already weak profile, says von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day. Sure, she could have messaged him through the platform, but they didn’t know how long it would take him to check for messages and the fact that his profile made it more difficult than necessary to contact him was a deal-breaker. The team moved on to look for someone else. “Update your contact information and consider including it in your summary, too,” she says. “Make it easy for them to find you.”
You may have built your LinkedIn profile and network over the course of years–or you may pay little attention to it at all. Either way, your profile may have red flags to recruiters or hiring managers, undermining your job search. But refreshing it doesn’t have to take long. In addition to keeping your contact information up-to-date, here are seven more red flags to keep in mind.
Mistake #1: A misleading headline
The headline next to your photo is one of the most valuable pieces of LinkedIn real estate you have. Use it wisely, says executive recruiter and career advancement coach Suzanne O’Brien. If you have aspirations of moving up, don’t use your current title in your headline. Instead, opt for something that reflects the job you want without being misleading. “Try using something that encompasses your current role and where you want to go, along with your unique value,” she suggests. For example, “Leadership in Product Management with Mobile and Healthcare Expertise” or “Marketing Professional for High-Growth Companies.”
“For the company that’s looking for someone with that expertise, they’ll know right away that you’re a ‘bull’s-eye’ candidate and they want to speak with you,” she says. Avoid very broad descriptions like “Consultant” or “Tech Explorer with a Systematic Approach.” Also, it’s not the best place for a quote from your favorite author, she says.
Mistake #2: Incomplete degree information
Another issue that can get you easily dismissed is incomplete degree information, says Debra Boggs, LinkedIn profile strategist and co-founder of D&S Professional Coaching, a career coaching firm in Scarborough, Maine. “Clients will be really vague about the type of degree they got,” she says. Instead of specifying that they have a bachelors or master’s degree they’ll say they studied biology, for example. “That’s a big red flag to recruiters that they don’t actually have a degree,” she says, which can be a deal-breaker to some prospective employers.
Mistake #3: Imprecise industry
“From the recruiter’s lens, when we’re scouring LinkedIn for prospective candidates, we use filters,” O’Brien says. If you haven’t updated your industry information, recruiters may not see you as appropriate for the job or may think that you lack attention to detail. “If you were in biotech and now you’re in tech, and a recruiter’s looking for someone in tech, so they might not see you,” she says.
Mistake #4: Resume mismatch
If you do nothing else before your next job hunt, do this: Pull up your resume and compare it side-by-side with your LinkedIn profile, Boggs says. Make sure the dates, positions, and job titles match. When resumes and LinkedIn profiles aren’t aligned, recruiters don’t know what to believe, she adds.
Mistake #5: Inappropriate photo
You don’t need to shell out big bucks for a professional photo shoot. But don’t use that wedding or vacation photo just because you like the way you look in it, Boggs says. Your photo tells a story about your professionalism. For a quick, budget friendly option, dress appropriately, find a place with decent natural light, and have a friend take your photo, she suggests. (No selfies.)
Mistake #6: Desperation
Job-hunting is difficult, especially if you’re unemployed or hate your current job. But, the minute that desperation creeps into your job search activities, it’s a turnoff, says von Rosen. While you want to make it clear that you’re looking for a new role, you still need to play a little hard to get. Von Rosen says that including phrases like “will work with anyone” or similarly broad statements can backfire.
“In your summary and in your headline section, position yourself as leader in your industry–a subject matter expert. Someone people trip over to work with or to hire,” she says.
Mistake #7: Branding yourself with your current job
You may be a shining star at your company, but if you’re too closely identified with the brand, hiring managers may be concerned that you’re not interested in new opportunities or that you’ll remind customers of the competition, von Rosen says. When you start thinking about a new job search, put a little distance between you and your current brand. For example, if your LinkedIn background photo is includes your company brand, swap it out for a neutral landscape or sunset photo. Begin producing your own thought leadership instead of only posting your company’s content. Use the platform to present your expertise and show your independence.
Watch out for these common missteps and you’ll eliminate some areas that might cause a recruiter or hiring manager to pass by your profile.