5 LinkedIn Blunders That Could Disqualify You As A Candidate

These days, embarking on a job search is accompanied with more tasks than just updating your resume.  In addition to a stellar application, your online presence needs to reflect your professional goals.  This includes an updated LinkedIn profile, which is often requested—sometimes even required—in online applications.  Furthermore, your LinkedIn profile can be found by hiring managers who are proactively searching for qualified candidates on external job boards.  Because of this, a well-written page could help put you in the running for opportunities you might be an excellent fit for, but wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.

As a result, you need to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to par before beginning your search.  However, there are several items that could be detrimental to your application if you aren’t meticulous when updating the page.  Watch out for these five blunders:

Inaccurate Headline

Your professional headline is the first piece of information the hiring manager will see when they view your profile.  This space should be used to clearly state your current professional status.  However, people can often forget to update their LinkedIn profile, and they are left with a headline that states a previous position.  Or, some get a little too creative and write an unclear headline like, “Working For The People.” While you may think this sounds intriguing, it does not give a hiring manager any indication as to what you actually do.

How to fix it: The majority of LinkedIn users will utilize their headline to simply state their current position and company.  This is an acceptable option, especially if you already work in your desired industry.  Others take this a step further with a clear value proposition.  For example, “Transforming Fortune 500 Company Operations to Increase Productivity” has a clear action and result, which could be more descriptive than a job title.

If you are unemployed, try to describe what you’re pursuing instead of leaving an old position in the headline.  For example, “Seeking Opportunities in Health Administration” presents a more straightforward intent.

Unprofessional Photo

Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to your profile picture, none of those words should be “unprofessional.”  When choosing an appropriate photo, the first criterion to look for is a high quality image. High quality indicates that the picture isn’t grainy or stretched, and it isn’t incredibly dark or overexposed, to the point where the viewer can’t see your face.  Next, be sure that what is visible is clean and polished.  As this is a profile picture on a professional networking site, you should be the only subject in the photo, and your attire should reflect your intended work environment.

How to fix it: If you’re flipping through photos, but can’t seem to find an appropriate one, there is an easy solution; smartphones really allow anyone to take high quality photos.  Find a plain wall and a professional outfit, and have a friend snap a few shots.

Uninspiring Summary

The summary section of your profile is your chance to shine.  However, those less confident in their writing abilities may draw a blank.  With an opportunity to display your passions proudly, hiring managers question those who don’t utilize this.  It could infer that you’re not excited about your work or that you don’t know how to speak about your own area of expertise.

How to fix it: This section should describe more than your professional accomplishments; it should also show off your personality.  To get started on crafting a better summary, think about what you love most about your profession.  By communicating your reasons for why you do what you do, hiring managers can learn a lot more about you as a person.

Inconsistent Information

Remember that the hiring manager most likely has a copy of your resume as well.  While it is sometimes understandable to omit an item from your resume, inconsistent information hints at dishonesty.  Plus, the fact that these documents do not match would leave the impression that you lack attention to detail.

How to fix it: Before submitting an application, read through your LinkedIn profile to be sure that the information presented mirrors the information on your resume.  Additionally, make it a common practice to update your LinkedIn profile at the same time that you update your resume to maintain consistency.

Empty Job Descriptions

Many hiring managers may peruse your LinkedIn profile before reading your resume.  As a result, this page should not be treated as a supplement to your resume.  However, there are still many people who either leave descriptions completely blank, or they may even write a trivial description that will not be taken seriously.

How to fix it: While a blank description might be acceptable for previous positions that are not applicable to your current field, this should not be the case for every position listed.  At the very least, edit the job descriptions to match your resume.  Additionally, LinkedIn offers the incentive to add more.  In this environment, your background does not have to be confined to one page, and there are opportunities to add multimedia samples of your work.  Take advantage of these technological freedoms to offer something more than the basics that your resume might cover.