Be aware of what your LinkedIn profile says about you without you even knowing
Did you know that women dominate every social media platform except one? Guess which one. Yes you are right - LinkedIn.
Did you also know that some organisations are making decisions about whether or not to interview you based solely on your LinkedIn profile? I heard this interesting (and rather scary) fact as I met with clients from a major corporate in the Melbourne CBD. And while I was a little taken aback at the supposed “unfairness” i.e. you didn’t even know you were in the running for the role and you were passed over without being able to stun them with your amazing new CV or wow them with your polished interview techniques, I’m actually not surprised.
So if recruiters and others are able to make assessments about your suitability for a role based solely on your LinkedIn profile - perhaps it's time that you got your house in order and your profile into professional gear. Here are the big 6 signs that you need to do some work.
1. No photo
This says straight up front that you are uncomfortable in a modern social media environment and don't really want to be recognised. Gone are the days when not having a photo was simply a holdover from not wanting to be identified on RSVP (that "old" dating site - is it still around?). Basically, if you don’t have a professional photo on your profile it looks like you are timid or trying to hide something.
There is the exception to the rule – social media stalkers are real. For those in roles where protecting your identity is an issue then please disregard my suggestion re a photo. However, if its purely because you are shy or nervous around social media – then its probably time to take a teaspoon full of cement and get with the program.
2. Photo looks like a laptop selfie or that you’d rather be anywhere else but at work
With a few exceptions such as creative types, outdoor types and entertainers (where a creative photo actually sells "brand you") then remember that the following types of images are better suited to Facebook:
- the home job selfie,
- the pic of you holding a fish you just caught on holidays, or maybe
- the glamour shot you had taken for your hubby last year.
Think of this as your professional CV summary. Your photo should represent you - professionally.
3. Too few contacts
Many sources say that the magic number for contacts on LinkedIn is 500+. I suspect this is purely for mechanical reasons (LinkedIn doesn’t publish the specific number once you bypass 500) and it means you are perceived as "well connected".
For those selling services and utilising LinkedIn as a leverage point commercially I’ve heard that the “magic number” is 3000+.
Whatever the actual sweet spot is, if you’re in a regular role that’s not about sales, my best guess is it needs to be more than 400 but less than 2000 – especially if you have been in business for 10 years or so.
Contacts correlates with your ability to network in a social online environment. In this modern era with information and connection as valued currencies, then your number of contacts says a lot about you. But unless you are selling stuff to people then you don’t want it to look like you spend all day on LinkedIn either. It's actually pretty easy to load your email contacts these days. Just be sure to personalise your contact note (unless you know someone really well) and you'll be fine.
4. Too few endorsements
If you want to connect with me and send me an invitation - imagine for a moment that I can’t remember exactly when I met you so I open your profile to check you out and jog my memory. Your credibility drops to zilch if you have no endorsements. How do you grow endorsements? Networking of course. And making sure that your settings allow endorsements. If you are connected with someone on LinkedIn and you know they do good work around Stakeholder Management –why not endorse them? And it's highly likely they’ll return the favour and endorse you for something you've got listed in your endorsement settings.
5. No current recommendations
Now this might be because you are busy, but when you remember that your profile is in someway the modern shop-front, public version of your resume, then keep it up to date. As soon as you finish a big project or significant piece of work, ask for a recommendation. Don’t wait til you are changing roles when you want to update your CV. Get it done while the quality of your work is front of mind. That way when you do get to update your CV you are on the front foot with remembering what it was that was a significant achievement in the past year. By the way – quarterly or half yearly updates of your CV are highly recommended in any case.
6. Not active
Remember, social networking is social. It's just on a different platform. You need to be active to be ranked by LinkedIn and "float" to the top of search criteria. LinkedIn even provide rankings for you to see how you are doing in terms of activity.
Share, like, comment, connect and email away - and here is a basic plan to get you started.
- Work out what it is you stand for professionally - great customer service, strategy, leadership, wellness and/or success,
- Like what others in your network share - as a way of connecting socially or as a way to enhance what you stand for,
- Share links to articles that inspire you professionally (with your own summary for time poor colleagues) once or twice a week,
- Get involved in a discussion once a week - so comment and acknowledge you value wha't others have shared, add your insights,
- Build your network - once a week get online and actively look for others in your network to connect with,
- Don’t be shy. You won’t break the internet if you make a mistake. Go on! You know you want to.
There are many more things you can do but this LinkedIn top tidy will stand you in good stead and keep you on the front foot. LinkedIn is simply a tool in your professional tool kit that you will want to keep up to date. Given it dovetails really nicely in with your CV development and professional connection keeping, it won’t be a waste of time, especially when you do change roles.
One proviso – cat photos or videos or pics of friends and family are not really suited for this forum just yet. I’m sure the lines will be blurred one day, but right now, LinkedIn represents a platform you can professionally leverage and position yourself. Don’t mix the personal and professional too much, too soon.
But most importantly, have fun. I call it the LinkedIn game. What about you?
Vive la révolution!
I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy.
I mentor ambitious professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.
I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.