I'm revising my LinkedIn profile for the umpteenth time, and I want to avoid the common pitfalls. What do you see as the biggest mistakes LinkedIn users make in creating their profiles?
The overarching problem with many LinkedIn profiles is that they're sloppy or incomplete. Your LinkedIn profile is your online billboard, so take the time to fill it out and help it represent you professionally. That means coming up with a useful Headline (that's the field just under your name), for starters. "In Transition" is not a great headline, but "Online Marketing Manager ISO Next Challenge" will help another LinkedIn user understand what you do and glom onto the fact that you're job-hunting.
It's important to add a clear, head-and-shoulders digital photo to your LinkedIn profile. It's useful to create a customized url for your LinkedIn profile, and to include that url on your resume and your job-search-related correspondence. (It will look like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lizryan).
Back to your question: I see these three LinkedIn profile-creation missteps more commonly than any others.
- The profile gives no sense of the human being behind the resume. Even if we believed ourselves to be stuck with a stodgy, boilerplate format for our resumes (although we're not) why on earth would we bring that same mindset over to LinkedIn, a completely different medium? The open-comment-box arrangement in a LinkedIn summary gives us room to branch out and talk about our passions and accomplishments in a more conversational, less stick-up-the-whatever way.
- The profile has no story arc. We see that Jane Addams worked at companies X, Y and Z and for how long, but we can't see why she went from one to the other or where she's looking to go next, and so we're left with no sense of her direction or personal mission. (I call this the Story of a Leaf....sprouted on a tree in Tennessee perhaps, blown by the wind to Oklahoma, then to Texas, then up to Minnesota...)
- The profile spends all of its juice trying to impress us (strangers, for the most part) instead of sharing the LinkedIn members' unique spin and perspective on his or her field of endeavor. I feel sad for people who'd write "Savvy, strategic marketing pro" on a LinkedIn headline, when they could be sharing pithy stories instead of striving to let us know (sans evidence) what they think of themselves.
It wouldn't be appropriate to say to a new acquaintance face to face, "You know, I'm quite an insightful guy."
So why would we praise ourselves online?