Are you pleased with your LinkedIn profile? Sure, you probably are. After all, you’ve checked all the boxes: photo, succinct summary, detailed job history, etc. You’re even getting a few hits from recruiters. But there’s more to building a killer profile than just avoiding the common mistakes. As recruiters, LinkedIn is our first stop when searching for talent, and I’ve spotted five common LinkedIn mistakes that most people don’t realize they’re making.
1. Your Title is Boring
No, not your current job title. I’m talking about the headline that appears right under your name. If these two are identical, then you’re missing out on your biggest opportunity to pitch your unique value prop. This is the first thing that recruiters notice when your profile shows in search results. Instead of something literal (and boring) like “Project Manager,” try something more engaging, like “Digital Project Manager in the Intersection of Technology and Media.” You’ve got 120 characters to play with, so make it count.
2. You Haven’t Customized Your URL
Just below your photo, you’ll see a URL that leads directly to your profile. Chances are it’s a bunch of unattractive randomness like “www.linkedin.com/pub/first.last/99393939.” Hardly rolls off the tongue, right? It doesn’t have to be that way. If you click “Edit Profile,” you’ll see the word “Edit” right beside the URL itself. Use this to change the link to something simple like your first and last name. It fits much better on business cards, is easier to remember and share, and shows that you really know what you’re doing on LinkedIn.
3. Your Profile is Written in Passive Voice
“I was promoted by management.” “The app was beloved by users.” “Our company was bought by a competitor.” This is a subtle misstep, but a damaging one nonetheless. Passive voice makes you sound unassertive and, well, passive. It makes you sound like an observer rather than an active participant. Instead of: “I was given a promotion by the CEO,” try: “The CEO personally promoted me as a result of my proven marketing leadership.” The same rules apply to your resume.
4. You Aren’t Personalizing Your Requests and Messages
This one is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often something so simple gets neglected. Avoid the default message LinkedIn provides you with at all costs. “Hi Marc. I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn” essentially means: “I’m not interested enough in connecting with you to actually write something.” Instead, write a brief but personalized note to your soon-to-be connection referencing something — anything — that you have in common. Did you recently meet them at an event? Do they work with your sister’s best friend? Do you share an interest in content strategy? A little personal attention goes a long way.
5. You’re Not Home
If you built a profile and then walked away, you aren’t taking full advantage of LinkedIn. Keep your profile updated and stay engaged. Post professional updates regularly. Join groups. Follow companies. You’ll increase your exposure and maybe even learn something new. Recruiters definitely take notice. Plus, LinkedIn’s search algorithm considers your level of engagement when returning search results.
In fairness, there’s no such thing as a perfect LinkedIn profile, and the network is evolving so quickly that I doubt there will be. All you can do is try to represent yourself in the best possible way in the present moment. If anything on this list applies to you, take action today. They aren’t massive fixes, and they’ll definitely help you maximize the value you get out of LinkedIn.