Five ways you’re sabotaging yourself on LinkedIn

Everyone uses LinkedIn these days, and presumably this includes you. LinkedIn is an excellent tool for raising your personal brand and connecting with others in your professional community. It’s also the first place many potential employers go to check you out during the hiring process.

Are you using it correctly and to your advantage? Or are you setting yourself up for failure? I spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn and tend to see the same mistakes over and over again. Here are some of the biggest.

Using a selfie as a profile picture.

Do not use a selfie as your profile picture. Research consistently shows that selfies make you look like everything from a narcissist to a professional failure. That doesn’t mean you can’t take your own picture. Just use your computer or put the phone on something. Blurry photos are also bad, as are unprofessional photos with other people in them, photos in which you’re holding a drink, photos of you in a bikini, etc. Just take a picture of your face and put it on the site. Smiling might help too. You never know.

Not having a picture at all.

It seems very odd, shifty even, to see a LinkedIn profile without a picture these days. It makes people wonder if, at best, you just can’t be bothered (red flag: laziness) or, at worst, what you’re hiding (red flag: maybe you’re not even a real person!) Have a picture. It makes a big difference.

Using that “seeking new opportunities” line.

I see this all the time on LinkedIn. People think it tells employers that you are available for hire and that they’ll go “That person is seeking new opportunities. Aren’t we lucky? We should totally hire them!” But what it really tells employers is that you are unemployed, and almost nobody wants to hire a person who is unemployed. This has been proven again and again in study after study. Employers don’t even want to hire someone who has gone through an extended period of unemployment. If you’re unemployed, don’t broadcast it. Replace this line with the title of the job you want. Problem fixed.

Not completing your profile.

When people look at your LinkedIn, they are seeking information. Fill out all the sections and let people know who you are and what you do. If they don’t find the information they’re looking for, they might just move on.

Not being active on the site.

At the very least, your profile should be up to date. It won’t do you any good to have an old job title three levels below your current position up there. But you also need to make connections and interact with them. Post industry-related links, news and updates, and if you don’t have the time or the inclination to do that, at least like and comment on other people’s posts. Make people in your industry aware of your presence.

If you’re making any of these mistakes on LinkedIn, you should change your ways. It will make a world of difference.

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