Social networking has changed not only the way people act in their personal lives, but also how they engage with each other professionally. In this regard, LinkedIn is one of the biggest tools people are using to promote themselves for their careers. Just as with a traditional resume, a LinkedIn profile shouldn’t include certain elements. These are the main things you need to leave out.
Yes, you want to describe yourself in a positive way on LinkedIn, but so does everyone else. Words and phrases like “creative,” “detail-oriented,” “strategic”, “team player” or “motivated” are so overused that the only thing they say to viewers is that you’re cookie-cutter and uninteresting. That translates to people clicking away. Take the time to choose actionable words that, in addition to being accurately descriptive and upbeat, are still fresh.
Even though people view LinkedIn online, your profile still is meant to represent you as a professional. Subsequently, emoticons and abbreviations such as lol should get the boot. Spell out your words and save your omg stories for your friends.
LinkedIn is a contemporary spin on professional connection, allowing you to provide a more personal view of who you are along with traditional resume information. Even so, certain personal information still is not appropriate to put on your profile, such as your age, race or sensitive identifiers such as your social security number. Leave these elements out, as they open you up to discrimination or even identity theft.
This sometimes comes up when people have an awesome project with a current employer they are involved in and want to share. Instead of spilling the beans about specific projects that haven’t gone public, go into more detail in your summary or experience sections describing your overall role and accomplishments. If you aren’t sure whether it’s okay to list something, get approval first.
It is most definitely a good thing to have your own interests, opinions and goals, as they set you apart. Even so, you want to make your LinkedIn profile look inviting to a wide audience, and putting controversial information on your page can be alienating or offensive. If you must approach a controversial area–for example, you’re a midwife despite the fact they’re not even recognized in some states–don’t place blame or judge. Keep it positive and focus on yourself. For example, using the midwife position again, you might say “I believe strongly in a woman’s right to have choices about her body and her birth” instead of “People who won’t give women a right to control her baby’s birth are just nuts.”
Irrelevant job or other information
Just as with a regular resume, what you put on your LinkedIn profile needs to convey the kind of work you’re looking for or are doing now. Unless you’re applying to be a team mascot, for instance, you probably are totally safe not including that job you had selling hot dogs in a chicken suit a few summers ago. You can explain gaps this may leave in your employment history during your interview. While you’re cutting out job information, go one step further and look for other personal information that is distracting, too. For example, don’t start talking about your dog when your objective is to do marketing.
A link to a personal website
This depends on what you have on your personal website. Too much family or personal info can lead to judgements that you want to avoid. Including these kinds of links makes the line between professional and casual a little too blurry. All too often, people forget they’ve linked their profile with their personal page and share way too much information or say something otherwise too intimate. Play it safe and rely on your recommendations and summary to paint the picture of your professional achievements and personality first.
LinkedIn is an excellent tool for advancing your career and strengthening your professional network, provided you develop your profile appropriately. Leave things like personal information and irrelevant job information off. Focus on staying current and reaching a wide audience at all times, and always do your best to come across as unique.