The 5 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making in Your LinkedIn Profile

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linkedin app on a phone next to headphones and coffee

It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is widely used by companies to find job candidates. In fact, over 3 million jobs are posted on the website in the U.S. every month, and over 20,000 companies use LinkedIn to recruit, according to the company.

As a job seeker, you’re competing against millions of other users to get noticed and have your resume stand out. You might have done a lot to optimize your LinkedIn profile for searches, but you still might be making some big style mistakes. In this article, five experts reveal common LinkedIn profile faux pas and how to fix them.

1. Using cliches

Resume writing isn’t the most interesting literary work you’ll do in your lifetime, so it can be easy to resort to job jargon. But your LinkedIn profile is a chance to show off your creativity, so avoid using cliches.

“Including overused phrases like ‘team player’ or ‘track record of success’ will make you come across as boring and bland,” said Peter Yang, co-founder of ResumeGo, a company that offers CV- and resume-writing services. “Instead, use more vivid words and imagery to snap the reader out of her trance and really make [her] pay attention to your profile.”

On your profile, talk about a specific instance in which you displayed teamwork, or list out the accomplishments you’ve achieved on the way to success. This type of resume will make you stand out from those of most other people who copy and paste chunks of their templated resumes to their LinkedIn profiles.

2. Describing your responsibilities instead of results

The biggest problem with resumes and Linkedin profiles is that people list their responsibilities instead of their professional impact. If you do that, your profile will look like everyone else’s.

“The key here is to mention results from your involvement in a job,” said Tatiana Rehmova, who works for online resume-building platform Enhancv. “What exactly did you achieve in your role? If it’s ‘wrote articles for the company blog,’ mention how many articles, what traffic did they get, how many times were they shared?”

Add some numbers and solid data to your profile. For example, instead of saying “increased sales through the implementation of several new marketing strategies,” write “implemented three new marketing strategies, resulting in a 33% increase in sales.”

Quantifying your achievements this way gives a clear understanding of the extent of your abilities and also makes them appear more impressive.

3. Choosing a bad profile picture

Recruiters are human, so they likely will be influenced by first impressions. In the case of your LinkedIn profile, that’s your photo.

“As more and more of our communication is pushed online, our relationships are with headshots of people that we may never meet in person,” said Mike Sansone, a Chicago-based headshot photographer. “That thumbnail is what will pop into their head every time they think of you. You have to make sure that it presents you in a way that you would like to be perceived.”

To do that, Sansone recommended following some simple tips:

  • Use a solid background. Backdrops in solid colors are best for LinkedIn profile shots. They put all of the focus on the person. “I prefer gray because colors pop off of it nicely,” he said. “It looks expensive and classy.”

  • Crop your photo correctly. From the armpits to the top of the head is the ideal crop for a headshot. “Profile picture thumbnails are square, and even more recently, circles,” said Sansone. “With all of that excess space being trimmed away, a tightly cropped headshot is crucial for delivering the most impact.”

  • Choose proper clothing. Use attire that a client would see you in. “If you’re an executive in a Fortune 500 company, I would expect you to dress a bit differently than a personal trainer,” he said. “Dressing opposite of what is expected for your industry can cause distrust and lower your perceived value.”

  • Nail a good expression. Your expression is the most important part of a headshot. It also can be the most difficult. Confidence comes from the eyes, approachability comes from the mouth, and personality comes from the eyebrows, according to Sansone. “Getting good expressions is a process, and it can take a while for the nerves to settle,” he said. “Don’t rush your shoot because of fear, or the thought that ‘this is as good as it’s gonna get.'”

4. Being impersonal

The personal statement has replaced the statement of objectives on your resume, so you shouldn’t use an objective statement on your LinkedIn profile either. Instead, use a personal statement to share your story and your personality, and to set yourself apart from other candidates.

“You get 2,000 characters in the profile summary section, so use your story to connect with others and really sell yourself,” said career coach Ren Burgett. “Your profile is about you and written by you. First-person writing makes your profile more personable and prevents it from feeling stale and cold.”

For example, don’t say: “Marketing coordinator with over five years’ experience working in nonprofit sectors. Ability to collaborate with all levels of an organization to generate profitable fundraising events.” Instead, write, “I’m a marketing coordinator with over five years of experience working in nonprofit sectors. I enjoy collaborating with all levels of an organization to generate profitable fundraising events.”

5. Having a boring headline

Whatever you do, don’t make your LinkedIn headline your job title and company.

“To truly stand out, you need to create a tag line that people want to click on,” said Matthew Kerr of Resume Genius. “Think of your headline as a one-sentence ad designed to capture the attention of whoever sees it and compel them to want more. Feel free to get creative with them and don’t worry about being too professional.”

For example, instead of saying, “Greg Morton, SEO specialist at Boring Company,” write, “Greg Morton, SEO wizard who excels at turning dead websites into a thriving metropolis of traffic.” The LinkedIn headline can be the most intriguing part of the profile, and yet, is the most undervalued. Customize your headline to reflect roles that you might target next or to show your skill set more broadly instead of being role-specific.

Invest time in enhancing your LinkedIn profile

It might take a little extra effort to accomplish all the suggestions above, but your work could help in the long run. Having a creative, well-written LinkedIn profile is a good way to attract the attention of recruiters and show a prospective employer your unique value to the company. The better your resume, the better-paying job you can get, and the faster you can pay off those student loans. So, take the time to make your profile shine.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.