I remember when I first heard the buzz about this “LinkedIn” social network. I imagined some upstart entertainment social network that would help me keep ‘up to date with all the in stuff going on in my community’. As the buzz continued to grow and the term started getting thrown around more and more, I checked it out, and was surprised to find a neatly organized and clearly focused social network dedicated to connecting professionals. It almost immediately made sense to me — here’s a place where I can develop my professional online persona.
Now, having been on the site for years, I see there are a few mistakes that a lot of people make, and as someone who is currently hiring, there are some mistakes I see that I immediately notice and make a snap judgement about. I’m not the kind of person who will immediately discount that person, and I usually give people a few strikes before they’re out, but I’m sure there are some people who just look through LinkedIn profiles waiting for a reason to cut a person out of the running. It’s the fastest way to get through thousands of resumes or LinkedIn profiles.
1. Multiple Current Jobs
I know it may seem tempting to highlight the fact that several start-up businesses are still going from 2005 to present, but it’s important to consider how that can look to an employer. I’ve seen LinkedIn profiles that have 4 current professions, and my first instinct is that this person obviously doesn’t have a particular focus. They are trying a lot of things, and may be a hard worker, but I’m looking for someone who understands the importance of dedication to a single, important task.
My advice is to choose the position in which you are excelling, and list that as your primary profession. If you want to be a manager, list the job where you are performing skills relevant to being a manager, and let that be your current profession. The employer will scroll down to see your other work, so don’t worry about it too much.
2. Long Rambling Summaries
People that are hiring rarely have a lot of time, in my experience. They are fast-thinking snipers who look for a good shot and take it. So when they see 5 dense paragraphs in a person’s summary, I imagine their mind goes a bit dead. Not quite the reaction I bet you’re looking for.
Brevity is the soul of wit, they say, and I find it to be true. Writing is rewriting is another good writing tip. Use both of those ideas, and write, edit and cut, over and over, until you’ve polished your summary into a few short lines that sum up your most powerful qualities. You can include more detail in customized boxes below the education box, if you’re interested.
3. Lack of Recommendations
Where are the recommendations? Almost every solid candidate on LinkedIn has a few. At a recent event I attended featuring Paul Nazareth, a LinkedIn expert, he said you should have at least 3, but closer to 5 as a minimum number of recommendations. He recommended getting in touch with clients and bosses and giving them a little reminder of what they had liked about your work, so they can write about something you succeeded at.
It’s a very important factor that I always look at. And don’t try to fool anybody — hiring managers are going to look at who’s recommending you. If it’s brother, sister, dog and stuffed animal, you’re not getting anywhere.
4. Too many Groups and Associations
This may be a little controversial, but I’ve seen profiles where over half the length of the page is a series of random groups related to mobile magazines and random newsletters. For me, that seems like the person isn’t aware that these are reflecting on what is the equivalent to his online resume. I look at everything I can to determine whether the person is professional and aware of his professional image, and this makes me feel like they missed something vital.
I don’t think this would ever be a make or break one, but the first glance of a resume has the potential to give a hiring manager a kind of “wow, this is the perfect candidate” factor when done right — you don’t want that to be ruined by 30 icons about QR code group memberships.
5. Shared links
When LinkedIn introduced the ability to add status updates and include links in those, it seemed like a pretty smart idea. A LinkedIn user can share what they’re up to at the moment, and it develops the network as a place to get more than just a resume.
That said, I’ve seen plenty of profiles where the shared link is “Win $1000 When You Spot the Monkey” or “How the Kardashian Marriage Corrupted America.”
The thing is, that link shows up as the first thing on your profile. It’s above your current job position, even, and to be honest it looks a bit garish on the page. I feel it looks like an ad, especially when a small thumbnail is affixed because of the user including a link in their status update. So make sure to be careful and post something related to your field, if you post at all.