Is Your LinkedIn Profile Holding You Back?

Holding BackYou’ve probably heard others rave about LinkedIn as a job search tool – mentioning that recruiters have contacted them through the site, or that they’ve been approached by hiring managers, just on the strength of their Profiles.

But what if this isn’t happening for you? How can you figure out what might be wrong?

These common LinkedIn missteps can make the difference between having all the action pass you by or realizing the full power of the site:

Remaining invisible.

Watching from the sidelines while all those Status Updates, blog posts, and Groups discussions pass you by? It’s time to insert yourself into the action.

Not only can you use Status Updates to mention an event you’re attending or book you’re reading, you can issue miniature “press releases” that note new product introductions or other team achievements (assuming that these items aren’t confidential).

Status updates can help inform others of what you do in your day-to-day work, plus help you promote specific accomplishments or personal accolades that would otherwise go unnoticed. And they last: Updates stay listed on your Profile when others find it, displayed like a personal news reel that continues to work for you 24X7.

Don’t forget that you can comment on others’ blog posts (or publish your own) on LinkedIn, plus use Status Updates to post a link to an online article. All these activities help to educate your network on your area of expertise.

LinkedIn Groups offer discussion boards that work in a similar fashion to Updates. You can post your thoughts on a relevant industry topic, or simply comment on others’ discussions.

Didn’t join enough Groups yet? Get going – LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50.

Confusing recruiters by adding non-work information as experience.

LinkedIn files the data in your work history in reverse chronological order, meaning that your most current experience will be shown first.

If you added experience on a Board (or a consulting gig, or any venture that doesn’t represent your work experience) in this section, readers of your Profile will see this activity first – listed as if it WERE your full-time job.

Besides confusing recruiters, showing this chronology can convince recruiters that you’re either unemployed or grasping at straws to show your experience.

The fix? Move your Board roles all the way down under Additional Information, where there is a category called Associations.

If you feel you’re burying this experience too deep, then mention the organization and your role in the Summary as well.

Disclosing too much information.

Did you take LinkedIn’s requests for data a bit too seriously? This is one of the most common LinkedIn mistakes made by job hunters.

If an item doesn’t belong on your resume, don’t add it to LinkedIn! This goes for dates of degrees (especially if earned in the 1980’s or before), or positions held that you normally wouldn’t show on a resume (because they were too short or are now outdated).

While date fields are used throughout the site for all kinds of career information, you can simply omit the years on everything from education programs to awards, certifications, and so on.

If you’re unsure what should be included, remember that the last 15 years of your professional life will be of most relevance to employers… then edit your Profile accordingly.

In summary, LinkedIn won’t magically produce results in your job search – unless you’ve taken the time to review your Profile carefully, with a solid strategy to display your experience and cultivate a following.

If you’re not being approached by others on LinkedIn, be sure to go back and review your Profile in detail for these mistakes – ensuring that you’ve put your best foot forward online.

Laura Smith-Proulx, award-winning executive resume writer and founder of An Expert Resume, is a former recruiter who partners with CIO, CFO, CCO, COO, CTO, CEO, SVP, and Director candidates to win top jobs at Fortune-ranked corporations. A credentialed Professional Resume Writer, Career Management Coach, Interview Coach, Social Networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) Career Strategist, and Personal Branding Analyst, she is the author of How to Get Hired Faster: 60+ Proven Tips & Resources to Access the Hidden Job Market, with work featured in 8 career bestsellers. She serves as a media source to Wall Street Journal FINS,,,, and other outlets.

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  1. Great post, Sarah! I definitely agree about joining LinkedIn groups. Not only is it a great resource, but you can show off your expertise by discussing relevant, industry-related topics.

  2. Keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and only including relevant information is certainly a necessity if you’re looking for a job. Optimizing your profile for search is another way to get more traffic and found by recruiters more easily — rather than using very specific industry-related jargon, consider what recruiters are searching for when looking to fill a position and adjust your profile accordingly!

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