Professionalism and LinkedIn Profiles: Presentation Still Matters

LinkedIn was launched in the early 2000’s as a networking site where business people could connect and make new contacts, and, while it did retain that professional edge for quite some time, it’s difficult to log in to LinkedIn now and see that same level of decorum.  As more users sign up (LinkedIn has over 400 million users around the world), people are seeking new ways to distinguish themselves from the crowd, and, as a result, some of the professionalism around the platform has deteriorated.  Headshots of people on vacation or at a party are not uncommon, taglines are often aimed at being clever or funny rather than describing an individual’s profession, and there has been a rising trend of people treating LinkedIn’s messaging service as a dating app.  If you’re using LinkedIn to look for a job, though, you need to make sure that your own LinkedIn page demonstrates a high level of professionalism.  Here are some key questions to consider when reviewing your profile:

One: Are your profile headline and summary statement concise and accurate?

Any recruiter who has used LinkedIn to source candidates will tell you that there are a lot of individuals out there who use the profile headline and summary sections to make trite jokes that rarely come across as funny, given that it is very difficult to impart tone through this medium.  We’ve seen it all: false bravado about being a genius or a billionaire, references to personal hobbies like fishing or playing with dogs, vague statements that are impossible to decipher, and a myriad of other things that still make us cringe.  If you’re trying to draw attention to your profile in order to get a new job, make sure you are using this space for its intended purpose: providing a concise overview of your current position, your previous experience, and your goals for the future.  Do a search for keywords in your field, too, and find a way to incorporate them into your profile.

Two: Is your profile picture professional?

LinkedIn may be looking more and more like Facebook, but if you are job hunting, you need to make sure that your profile picture comes across as business-like and professional.  A shot of you on vacation in Greece, playing golf, or hanging out with your kids might display some of your personality, but it’s not going to attract recruiters.  If you don’t have a high-quality headshot (or don’t like the way you look in your headshot), there’s no need to stress, though!  You can still come across as professional and serious just by following a few simple guidelines.  Your profile picture should be clear and high resolution, be tightly cropped to show just your face and shoulders, and, ideally, be taken against a neutral background.  Additionally, wear a work-appropriate outfit when posing for your picture, and make sure your hair and/or makeup are tastefully done and not distracting.

Three: Are you engaging with industry news?

LinkedIn has a “status update” section that Facebook users will find familiar – perhaps too familiar.  On Facebook it is perfectly appropriate to share details of your life in the status update box, as your followers are friends and family who care about what is happening with you.  On LinkedIn, though, the status update box is geared towards providing professionals with an opportunity to engage with the latest industry events and news.  To keep your profile fresh and interesting, take advantage of this platform to share news articles or conferences that are relevant to people in your field, perhaps with a thoughtful comment or two.

Four: Are you oversharing?

LinkedIn provides an opportunity for you to expand upon your résumé, as you have more room to describe your past positions, responsibilities, and accomplishments.  Additionally, LinkedIn gives options to attach links to articles you have published, upload samples of your portfolio, and highlight professional certifications and accolades.  Take a critical eye when reviewing your LinkedIn profile, though, and ask yourself if a recruiter or potential employer really needs to know all of the information you have on your page.  Just because you’re an amateur photographer and you’re proud of your work does not mean that a potential employer in the insurance field will care!  Similarly, you may be proud of your children and your spouse, but your professional summary should not include a detailed overview of your family life. 

Five: Are you being honest?

Just like with any résumé, it’s important to be honest and not overstate the work that you have done.  Most people fudge a little bit on their résumés and LinkedIn profiles, but you definitely do not want to get trapped in a lie, or successfully bluff your way into a position that you cannot handle!  Make sure all of your information is accurate and the overall picture you have painted of yourself is an honest representation of your skill set and experience.

We hope these tips will help you create a more compelling, professional LinkedIn profile!  If you have any questions, or need assistance crafting your business-oriented profile, please feel free to reach out to us today!

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