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7 LinkedIn Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making (And How to Fix Them)

Connel Valentine Dec 30, 2017
Do you feel like your LinkedIn profile isn't getting the attention it deserves?

Frustrating isn't it?

You've finally hopped on the LinkedIn bandwagon, creating that "All-Star" profile, only to wake up every morning to 0 notifications in your app.

And when you're on the hunt for a job, that's not the kind of morning you want to wake up to.

You start to wonder if this whole LinkedIn phenomenon is worth it.

Are recruiters even looking to LinkedIn to hire people?

Well, according to JobVite's Job Seeker Nation Study, 87% of recruiters used LinkedIn to search for candidates.

So why the heck does it feel like you're in the 13%?

We are here to give you some practical advice on how you can spot them in your profile and correct them ASAP, and we promise you'll start to see those notifications light up like a Christmas tree.

Let's dig in.

(Tech Note: LinkedIn keeps changing it's interface, so if you want the how-tos, please Google them to get the latest info)

Mistake #1 Your Profile Picture is a Cropped Selfie

If you're on the search for work, there are three investments that you will benefit from in your job search:

1. A career coach to guide you in the right direction

2. A resume writer to market you on paper

3. A photographer to portray the professional you to the outside world

#3 is doable in one afternoon.

When recruiters scan your profile, they want to see you are taking your job search seriously.

It starts with having a profile picture that's not been uploaded from a cell phone.

A professional photographer will bring out the professional inside you that no smartphone will ever do. (Sorry Apple)

Head to Pinterest and type in "Professional LinkedIn Photo". Find one you like. Print it. Head to the studio. Show it to the photographer and go "I want that".

The shelf life of this investment lasts for as long as you can maintain that beautiful face in real life, so it's worth the $ and the time and the effort of one afternoon.

Use it on LinkedIn, your personal website if you have one, and eventually, you will use it at your new company's HR file of yourself when it gets you that new job.

Mistake #2 Your headline is set to default (boring)

After a recruiter is done admiring your gorgeous new profile picture, they take a gander at your headline.

By default, LinkedIn will place your current job title and company in the 120 character limit for your headline.

Since these details are already in your experience section, it's a waste to repeat it here.

Your profile pic and your headline is your bait to hook the reader into reading the rest of your profile.

Boring is the last thing you want to be in these sections.

When recruiters are looking for candidates, they have a scrolling text of keywords in their minds.

They are looking for a Project Manager with x experience in Agile methodology.

They are looking for an Accountant with x experience in AR and AP.

Have a keyword targetted headline that states what you do and answers the question "So What" for the reader:

"Project Manager with 10 years of Agile expertise completing projects on time, budget and scope"

"Canadian certified accountant with 5 years of consistent cash flow performance with accounts receivables and payables"

"UNIX developer specializing in Middleware technology collaborating cross functionally with technical teams"

These headlines get the recruiter thinking "OK, this profile is worth my time. Let me read on".

You've done it! You got the reader to get to the meat of your profile. Your summary and experience!

Mistake #3 Missing out on keywords

Remember the scrolling text of keywords in recruiter's minds?

What the heck are those annoying "keywords" everyone keeps talking about?

Keywords are what recruiters will use to find you.

They will type "javascript" or "Six Sigma" or "leading teams" - whatever skills and experience-in-words the hiring manager conveyed to them when this job was created.

So, obviously, you need to know keywords are important for your target role.

Don't guess. Please!

If you are changing careers or moving to a new country or even applying for a similar job after a long tenure, don't make the fatal mistake of assuming you know what recruiters are looking for today.

Use the following methods at your disposal for free to get the truth:

1. Online job boards.

Find 8-10 job descriptions of the job title you want to target from LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster. It doesn't matter if they are already filled. As long as they are current.

Manually scan each of them and find the most common responsibility and keywords you can positively identify.

It's a long and tedious process, but in the end, you will thank yourself for taking the effort because you will be able to answer the question "So these are the most common responsibilities and skills and keywords being asked for my job today. Huh."

Need some technology to help? Job Scan has got you covered.

2. Use Job Scan to weed out those keywords.

Job Scan (aff) actually scans a job description and highlights the keywords for you.

You can copy paste the job description and your resume side-by-side and compare and contrast them with results.

Use it to assist with discovering the keywords for your target job.

3. Indeed Job Trend

Uncertain which keyword is more relevant and current?

Should you choose "PMP certified" or "Certified with PMP".

Indeed's Job Trends tool will let you insert your conflicting keywords and tell you which ones are more popular.


Once you've collected your list of keywords, responsibilities and skills that are currently needed in your industry and target job, you now have confidence in knowing what recruiters want.

You are ready to write up that summary and responsibilities.

LinkedIn expert and career coach, Shelly Elsliger, believes an impactful summary is one that tells a story.

You can ask yourself these 15 questions to create a Professional Unique Value Proposition (PUVP), guided by the keywords you've discovered to create a summary that will grab the readers attention, help you stand out, and be searchable when recruiters are looking for talent.

For your professional experience, refer to the list of responsibilities you gathered in your exercise and make sure to list out the responsibilities that matter the most to the market.

We get it. You've done a lot in your career.

But sometimes, where you spend the most time in your current job may not necessarily be where you will be spending most of your time in your next one.

Put the efforts from your keyword and responsibility searching exercise to good use by ordering and tagging your experience in a way that gets you found.

If you've done things that didn't show up in your research, put them at the end of your list.

Remember, a recruiter won't read your entire profile, so make sure the important goodies are at the top of the list.

Mistake #4 Forgetting to customize your unique URL

This is a quick fix.

Your link to your profile should be advertised on your cover letter and resume.

Ergo, it should be readable.

Change the default URL of your link so that it's short and sweet.

End it with your full name. For example, www.linkedin.com/in/connelvalentine.

Simple and effective.

Mistake #5 Not asking for recommendations

If you stand in the middle of a crowded street and look up and point at nothing what will others do?

They'll look up as well.

Social proof is the influence that the actions of others have on our own behavior.

In the world of LinkedIn, that's where recommendations come in.

What others say about you will influence a recruiter's behavior towards deciding whether to call you in for that interview.

But take caution, who those recommendations come from matters as well.

So don't get them from family and friends.

Seek out recommendations from your professional circles - old bosses, college professors, clients, colleagues.

People are more helpful than you think and they may be grateful that you asked them.

If you want to sway the recommendation in your favor, suggest a specific skill set that you'd like them to talk about that they can relate to.

It could sound something like "Hey John. I was hoping to get a recommendation from you for my LinkedIn profile. Remember when we worked on the Hudson project and you said that I demonstrated great leadership skills? Appreciate if you could make a reference to that. Thanks."

Mistake #6 Having a "build-it-and-they-will-come" attitude

Now that you have a grand profile, packed with keywords and recommendations, don't assume technology and fate will do the rest.

Attention is given to those who seek it.

A job search is not the time for unsung heroes.

Being active on LinkedIn (every day if you have to) will help boost your profile ranking in searches.

Reach out to people.

Join groups.

Share posts.

Write posts and share them yourself.

All of these not only boost your ranking, they will also let curious recruiters into your world and see what interests you.

The types of posts you share and groups you join all reflect your brand and how seriously you take your professional role in life.

At the very least, sharing posts that interest you is an easy way to remain active.

But, the click-and-scroll method is lazy.

When sharing posts, adding your personal opinion on what you find particularly interesting about the post will A. prove you actually read it B. gives the reader some insight into your personality.

Isn't that what hiring managers want to know about you when they recruit you?

If you think this activity is pointless and goes unnoticed, I can personally tell you that's a mistake.

People I meet at friendly gatherings tell me "I see you're quite active on LinkedIn". So I know being active reminds people of who I am and what I stand for.

That's branding baby!

Mistake #7

And finally, we saved the worst for last!

The golden egg of LinkedIn is to make new connections with the right people that can lead to new opportunities.

But I consistently see people reaching out without a personalized message when attempting a new connection request.

If you're on a desktop, click the "Add Note" feature. If you're on mobile, click the "Three Dots" to add your personalized note.

There's nothing colder than a blank LinkedIn connection request.

If you don't give people any context as to why you're connecting with them, you likelihood of gaining their approval is little to none.

Possible examples for context could be:

1. Referencing a post they wrote that you read

2. Addressing a common connection

3. A group that you both belong to

4. A common alumni

5. A common professional interest.....and so on

You wouldn't blindly see a movie unless you knew at least something about it, or it was referred to you by a trusted source.

Similarly, don't expect people to accept your blank LinkedIn request unless you give them a reason to accept it.

Overhaul your LinkedIn experience

Your online image is critical to your job search success, now more than ever.

Your LinkedIn profile isn't an attic to archive old experiences and spring clean once a year.

Opprtunity is peeping through that window without you knowing it, and if your profile is filled with cobwebs, that opportunity may be forever lost.

Time is precious, and recruiters don't want to waste time with candidates who don't make the cut.

Your LinkedIn profile is part of the filtering process, so make sure you're not filtered out.

If you've been struggling to convert job applications to interviews, your online presence could be holding you back.

Your LinkedIn profile should be nurtured with care if you want opportunities to come your way.

Once you've cleaned up your profile, recruiters will organically start to find you and get you that new opportunity you've been seeking.

The above can be accomplished over a weekend. It's never too late to give it a makeover.

Every minute your LinkedIn profile remains lifeless is a lost opportunity.

Don't wait.

Revitalize your LinkedIn profile with these tips and watch those profile views start to climb.