Almost all recruiters use LinkedIn to research potential candidates. You will need a professional online presence to build trust and credibility with hiring managers. Just as you expect a high quality website when researching an employer, they will expect a polished LinkedIn profile when researching you.
Below are a few common mistakes we see when looking at LinkedIn profiles. Make sure you do not repeat them with your own profile.
1. Not Updating Your LinkedIn Profile
Having a limited or outdated LinkedIn profile is almost as bad as not having a profile at all. In fact, it may be worse. It will communicate to an employer that you do not care or you do not understand how to use LinkedIn—neither of which are things you want a future employer to think about you. Every time you update your resume, you should also be updating your LinkedIn profile with your wide variety of experiences, skills, and interests.
2. Not Including a Professional Photo
A professional photo is essential to your LinkedIn profile. Employers gravitate towards profiles that show approachable potential hires. This is an easy way to make a great first impression. Make sure it is a high quality photo, specifically taken as a portrait. Avoid selfies, photos that are clearly from events (like a wedding or family trip), and group photos where you’ve cropped out other members of your group.
TIP: You do not need a professional photographer to take a great LinkedIn photo. With a smartphone and outdoor lighting, you can take a high quality photo. Find a simple background (such as the side of a building or a flower bush), put on a nice top, style your hair, and ask a friend to snap a few photos of you (from the waist up). Take the photos in the morning or late afternoon for the best lighting. And remember to smile!
3. Using a Generic Headline
Your headline is your unique tagline to capture readers’ attention and entice them to read your full profile. LinkedIn will automatically generate a headline for you based on your most recent position. Don’t just use the automatically generated headline. Instead, include area of study, career ambitions, or keywords related to a desired career field.
-Aspiring Consumer Marketer with a Passion for Strategy, Promotions, and Campaign Management
-Boston College Junior Seeking Accounting Internship in New York City
-Social Media Branding Specialist | Seeking Marketing Internship
4. Connecting Only With Friends and Family
LinkedIn is not just an online version of your resume, it is also a dynamic networking tool. Use it to expand your network. Reach out and connect with alumni and professionals working in your industries of interest. Increasing your number of connections will not only benefit your career exploration, it will also build your credibility because your number of connections is visible to the public.
5. Being Inactive
Increasing your number of connections is just step one—you also need to be active in engaging them. Like and comment on your connections’ posts. Follow interesting employers/influencers and engage with their posts. Write a few posts yourself. Endorse your connections on their skills and request endorsements from others. All of this activity will be visible on your profile and strengthen it for others to see.
Avoiding these mistakes is just the starting point. LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful tool for your career progression. Here are a few resources to help you dive deeper into your LinkedIn profile:
- LinkedIn for Students Guide
- 20 Steps to a Better LinkedIn Profile in 2020
- 7 Tips On How To Use LinkedIn For Beginners
- The 31 Best LinkedIn Profile Tips for Job Seekers
If you have questions about getting started or would like to have your profile reviewed, visit the Career Center during weekly drop-in hours to meet with one of our career coaches.