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What a Bad LinkedIn Profile Says About You

It’s 2020, and the internet has been around long enough for us all to be cognizant of our online presence. You know the basics on how to keep a clean social media profile and probably are very careful to do so. What does your LinkedIn profile say about you? More importantly, what does a bad, empty, or sloppy LinkedIn profile say about you…because I promise you, it says something.

Maybe you have a goal, a persona you’re trying to communicate to viewers on your page. Maybe you made your LinkedIn without giving much of a thought to exactly what should be on it. It’s likely you don’t even care what’s on your page, because you think all that matters is that you have one. I’m here to tell you that is a mistake.

If you have a LinkedIn profile, people are going to be looking. Take five minutes to update it. Even if you’re not looking for a job, there are many reasons to have at least a basic, professional-looking profile. Think of it as your digital business card. (You don’t need to worry about it being perfect - you don’t want to have a Patrick Bateman moment). On that note, think about your next career goal. Will you ever want a new job? Will you ever be looking to hire someone great to work on your team? Would you like to be considered for expert-status in your field? None of those things can happen if your LinkedIn profile isn’t up to par.

As a reference, which one of these profiles looks more impressive? Does your decision change based on what perspective you come from?

The right answer should be YES! Clearly, the profile with the image and header and informative details is much more inviting no matter what your end goal on LinkedIn is. That said, that’s the bare minimum. (It took one minute and was taken on an iPhone.)

You should at least have a very basic profile together. Things as simple as having logos on your profile versus none can make a huge difference. Stick to the basics to get by; start with having a profile picture and a header. Add a headline, even if it’s just your current title. Make sure all of your jobs are recorded with correct dates and locations and all of your companies have logos next to their names. If you really want to go the extra mile, you can fill in your About section with a small elevator pitch for yourself.

Bullet points under your jobs are optional. You don’t need to recreate your resume on your LinkedIn, nor do you want to - they’re two different mediums. It’s up to you if you want to, but you need to realize your intent and what you want people to take away. Does anyone really need your full resume information? (The same goes for your contact information).

That’s the basic rundown of the minimum you should have on your profile, but depending on what role you play, you might want to be saying something else to your audience. Depending on where you’re coming from will determine the consequence of not having a put-together profile. What are people looking for when they look you up? What else is your profile saying?

If you’re looking for a new job:

The first place a hiring manager or recruiter is going to look is at your LinkedIn profile. They want to learn more about you, put a face to the name, and get a glimpse at what you’re like outside of just your resume. LinkedIn is the one form of social media where people are expected to be professional, so while they might do a wide scope of your online presence as a whole (everyone does), it’s your LinkedIn they’ll spend the most time on.

If a hiring manager or a recruiter goes onto your profile and they see it’s not updated, or you have a bad picture, or it just looks sloppy or undone, they won’t be leaving impressed. They might think you don’t have great attention to detail, or that you’re careless, or that you don’t put enough stock into your professional persona. In this case, you’d better have the best resume on Planet Earth, because you’ve got one strike against you.

If you’re looking to hire:

It’s not only you as a hiring manager that looks at your interviewees on LinkedIn; they’re looking you up as well. It’s a mutual relationship. You want to hire a great employee, and they want to work for a great leader. If they look you up and see an empty profile, or an angry looking picture (or lack thereof), I can’t imagine they’ll be very impressed. Nobody wants to work for someone evasive or unwelcoming. As a hiring manager, you also represent your company, so having a bad profile reflects badly on the company as well as on yourself.

If you’re looking to gain expert-status in your field:

If you have a bad LinkedIn profile, you can forget this one. The truth of living in the time we do means that most of the networking we do is online. The content we share and ingest is online. The research we do is online. How many times have you read an article and Googled the author? I do it all the time, and if I Google someone only to find that they have virtually no online presence, I’m not going to be too impressed or too likely to take them seriously.

If you want to be taken seriously by colleagues and other thought leaders in your field, you need to make a name for yourself. The way to do that is to let your work be seen and make long-lasting connections. LinkedIn is the way to do that. You might have a website, and that might be great, but if people want to connect with you, follow you, and engage with you, LinkedIn is the place they’ll want to do it. If your profile is lacking, so is your credibility.

Hopefully this has helped you to understand why it is vital to have an up-to-date, welcoming, informative LinkedIn profile. If you’re looking for more information, I’ve written several articles about LinkedIn and how to utilize it to reach your goals. I’ll also be coming out with several more about how to specifically curate your profile to reach your goals.

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