A few days ago, I offered to look at a job seeker’s LinkedIn profile while on the phone with her—and could not find it. It turned out that the issue was straightforward, and she fixed it in less than 30 seconds. Nonetheless, this conversation alerted me to the ways that small errors in the top four LinkedIn profile sections could reduce your chances of getting found for the job you want at the salary you deserve.
The top four sections of your profile, like the top third of your resume’s first page make that critical first impression on hiring teams. They are also important for ensuring your profiles will be found in automated searches.
Some issues that will limit your opportunities to find a better job in 2022 include:
- Headshots and background images that do not grab attention,
- Out-of-date identification, location, and contact information,
- A default headline that does not communicate your value, and
- An “About” section that does not take advantage of its power.
We’ve highlighted some of these issues before, and could add many more errors job seekers make on LinkedIn. The platform is gaining more importance, based on my conversations with recruiters and job seekers, so it is worth revisiting these high-impact items we feel LinkedIn members can fix with relative ease.
Headshots and background images do not grab attention.
LinkedIn, unlike a traditional resume, gives job seekers an opportunity to get noticed using images. While recruiters discourage job candidates from including headshots on resumes to avoid bias, LinkedIn says profiles with headshots may appear in up to 27 times as many searches as those without photos.
So, the first mistake job seekers make is that they upload no images at all. It’s understandable since most of us want to be considered based on our talent rather than our appearance in a photo. LinkedIn’s algorithm works against this strategy.
A poor choice of photos can be as bad as having no photo. Some LinkedIn members use selfies, or photos from weddings, Bar Mitzvahs or other events. Recruiters could consider these “unprofessional,” like showing up for an interview in party attire.
Use a headshot. Have someone take good photos of you with a phone or digital camera. You can use software such as Adobe Photoshop to improve the photo. There are even headshot retouching services available online—we are currently researching these.
Background images do not impact LinkedIn search results but they will add color to your profile and may help grab the viewer’s attention. Use an image relevant to your business or profession, but be sure you either own the image or that it is “royalty-free” from a site such as Pixabay.
Check your contact information.
Contact and locality information that is out-of-date will place you out of the running, too. Make certain that the contact information section of your profile is updated by verifying that the email address and phone number you have provided are still current. If you have changed your name for any reason, make sure your current name appears on your profile.
Prospective employers will bypass your profile if they cannot get accurate contact information quickly, or if they cannot find your profile at all because of a name change.
Yet another potential show-stopper in the introductory section of your profile is the location you enter. Although, LinkedIn does not disclose your street address, you do need to enter a location. You can enter a country, state, city or metropolitan area, and employers search using this field. So, if an employer wants to hire an employee for their New York office, and your profile shows your location as Ft. Lauderdale, FL, their hiring team won’t find you in searches.
Select the job market you want to work in, not the market where you live now.
Don’t accept the default headline.
Apparently, the policy at LinkedIn is, to paraphrase a famous expression, “if you do not create a headline, one will be created for you.” For example, the job title on my own profile reads “Resume Writer ► LinkedIn Profile Writer ►Job Search Consultant,” so LinkedIn would create the headline “Resume Writer ►LinkedIn Profile Writer ►Job Search Consultant at Resumes that Shine.”
This headline would not be too bad—I had the luxury of creating my own title because Resumes that Shine is my own brand. But I wrote my own headline to take advantage of LinkedIn’s 220 character limit for headlines. The headline I wrote is:
Resume and LinkedIn Profile Writer ► Certified Career Management Coach ►Job Search Consultant ★ I Advance Careers! ★ ResumesThatShine.com
LinkedIn fully implemented its expanded headline field from 120 characters to 220 characters in 2020, so if you haven’t updated your profile in a while, it may be time to take advantage of this change.
You are missing out on opportunities to be found if you don’t take advantage of LinkedIn’s flexibility with headlines. The first thing recruiters see, in addition to your name and photo, is your headline.
Take advantage of the About section.
LinkedIn has renamed and expanded the summary section, too. Now, the summary is called your About section. It has been expanded from 2,000 to 2,600 characters. That means you could be missing out on the chance to tell your story more fully when you write your post-COVID update.
The new About section may be the only narrative section recruiters read in detail. LinkedIn’s search algorithms also give it a lot of weight, too.
Be active on LinkedIn!
Last, but not least, remember that LinkedIn is a social media platform, so treat it that way. Post frequently, and interact with others on the site. Establish as many relevant connections as possible. Share information that will be of interest to those in your business or profession. This, too, will improve your chances of being noticed on LinkedIn.
We’ve only begun to scratch the surface in this post. Come back after Thanksgiving for posts covering additional LinkedIn sections.