In my work as a career coach, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. I review hundreds of profiles each month and train my clients to build stronger LinkedIn content that elicits interest and follow up.
What I’ve learned is this: if you're not careful, your LinkedIn profile may say things about you and your professional life you may not want others to know.
Here are five things your LinkedIn profile may reveal that you’ll will want to change:
If you don’t have a photo on your profile, you’re hiding, plain and simple. LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with more than 530 million users in more than 200 countries and territories. Many would be interested in what you stand for and care about in your work. But without a photo on your profile, you’re saying, “Don’t see me. Just pass me over. I’m not important or worthy enough for you to see my face.”
Tip: This week, take a photo (or have someone take it of you) — face front, smiling —and upload it. Also, upload a great cover image, a photo for the banner at the top of your page, that represents something that will tell us more about you, what you care about and why we should care. Always make sure your content will connect with people you'll be excited to talk to.
You’re not passionate about your work.
If you choose words that are drab, boring, passive, unclear, without any indication of what lights you up from the inside, then the message is that you don’t like your work.
Tip: Go through your profile and replace every single word that is repetitive, overused and uninspired. Find a way to talk about what you do so that people can say “Wow! She loves what she does and is good at it!” If you can’t do that no matter how hard you try, you’re in the wrong career or have the wrong job or employer.
You don’t know what you’re good at.
Many professionals fail to share exciting, juicy facts of who they are, what they’ve done and the “needles” they moved in their roles. You need to communicate exactly what you do that brings about important outcomes that help your company thrive. And you need to communicate how you do what you do in ways that are different from how anyone else on the planet would do it.
Tip: Write down everything that’s made you who you are: your ancestry, cultural training, achievements, traumas, pivotal moments, relationships that flattened you and those that enlivened you, your passions and talents, and unique perspectives. Answer the question “How has every one of these influences shaped me in a way that makes me a powerful, valuable contributor in the work I do?”
Also, write down the "20 facts of you" — what you’ve accomplished, achieved and made possible, and the scope of those achievements, with metrics that illustrate the impact, and why these outcomes mattered to the organization. Sharing these facts is not bragging. It's helping people understand what you're capable of.
You’re seeking employment, but don’t know how or where to look.
When you write your headline with the words “Looking for opportunities” or “Seeking employment” you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You’re focused on what you’re lacking (a job). Your headline is the place for you to tell the world why they should hire you, how you’re unique and valuable, and what is vitally important about your career trajectory and experience that others should take heed of because it will be useful for them. Don’t just recite your history.
Tip: Never use your headline to talk about looking for opportunities. Use that precious real estate to share what you do, who you do it for and the outcomes you’re passionate about bringing forward.
You’re not sure why your work matters.
If you list only the tasks that you’ve performed and not the “what happened” after these tasks were accomplished, you’re leaving us guessing about why your work matters. Make it clear that the work you do has an impact and you can continue to make a difference with other situations, opportunities and employers.
Tip: Make sure that everything you write is not task-oriented, but benefit-focused. If 80 percent of your work makes you feel dead inside, emphasize the 20 percent that makes you feel alive, important and valuable in the world.
This blog first appeared on Forbes.com.
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