LinkedIn is an amazing tool for business networking and career development. As a social media strategy, it is one of the best for job seekers and headhunters. However, if you aren’t careful, your LinkedIn profile can quickly change from major selling point to professional liability. Any of these five mistakes can and will kill your credibility.
1. Using an Unprofessional Profile Picture
As you build your LinkedIn profile, remember the purpose of LinkedIn. According to the site, the main functions of a LinkedIn profile are to:
• Reconnect – Find past and present colleagues.
• Power Your Career – Discover inside connections when you’re looking for a job or new business opportunity.
• Get Answers – Your network is full of industry experts willing to share advice.
Now, if you are going to be doing all those professional things, wouldn’t you want to look professional? A blurry snap from a (poor quality) camera phone does not say professional. Neither does an outfit you would proudly display in a nightclub.
Hire a professional photographer to take a handful of publicity photos. Then, ask an objective outsider (not your spouse or significant other!) to help you pick the best shot.
2. Padding your Recommendations
Who wrote your recommendations? Did you ask some friends to write up a little ditty so you would appear qualified? You may think a glowing recommendation makes you look credible; but if the recommendation has been solicited by a loved one who is overenthusiastic, your potential boss will see right through that.
Recommendations that don’t have any real substance just make you look bad. Only display the recommendations that describe actions you personally took and the quantifiable effect those actions had on the company you worked for.
3. Linking to a Personal Website
LinkedIn was designed to portray who you really are (or aim to be) in the workplace. Unfortunately, your personal life isn’t very applicable. In fact, your boss might assume your multitude of hobbies will translate into late projects. Only link to a personal site if it is really a professional one. For example, share a link to your personal business site or how-to industry blog.
4. Providing Easy Access to your Less-Than-Flattering Past
Naturally, you prospective employer is going to do a bit of research on you. The information you provide in your LinkedIn profile combined with a simple Google search might yield unpleasant results.
If you have some youthful indiscretions in your past, don’t make it easy for your prospective employer to find them. On your profile, only list information that is applicable to where you are taking your career. While you may or may not want to list information about your college career, you certainly don’t need to go as far back as high school.
Once you have your profile completed, experiment with different search combinations with the information you have provided. What comes up? Anything incriminating? If something undesirable is revealed, edit your profile and remove the bits that led you there.
Spelling and grammatical errors on your LinkedIn profile are a big no-no. They make people think you are careless or stupid – and neither of those are flattering, “hire me!” qualities. It is easy to miss simple mistakes in your own writing. Hire a professional copyeditor to take a look at your profile. It will make a big difference and probably cost less than $50.
Take this advice to heart. Don’t let your biggest professional asset become a major liability. Damaged credibility is difficult to reverse.