5 Things to Never Do on Your LinkedIn Profile, According to the Pros

published Jun 4, 2023
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In today’s job market, the way you present yourself on your LinkedIn profile can be crucial to landing that next job or catching a recruiter’s attention. Making a good first impression is key and you want to do everything possible to make your profile work in your favor. Creating an online resume of your skills and qualifications requires some effort on your part, but also important is knowing what you want to avoid doing on your LinkedIn. 

I talked to two experts who offered their advice on some things you should never do on your LinkedIn profile. 

Don’t make your LinkedIn profile an exact copy of your resume.

Cutting and pasting all the specifics of your resume into your LinkedIn profile may seem like a logical way to approach your online job presence, but the pros say that’s a mistake. 

Ida Pettersson, a career adviser and writer at Resume Genius, explains why your LinkedIn profile and resume should be distinguishable from one another. “Your resume should be a concise, one-page overview of your achievements tailored to a specific position and company. Your LinkedIn profile, on the other hand, is your chance to showcase both your depth and breadth of expertise,” says Pettersson. “Making your profile a copy of your resume is a missed opportunity to show recruiters that you’re a well-rounded professional with a diverse skill set.”

Your resume is a list of your accomplishments, while LinkedIn allows you to show what you’ve accomplished with additional detail. Incorporating that context into your LinkedIn profile may be the difference between landing an interview and being ignored. 

Don’t put “negative” words on your profile.

It may seem obvious, but avoid using phrases on your profile that have a negative connotation. It can send the wrong message to employers who want to recruit you for a position. Amanda Brandon, LinkedIn expert and certified branding and career coach says, “Don’t put negative words like ‘unemployed’ or ‘desperately need work’ on your profile.” 

She advocates for presenting your best self on LinkedIn. “Starting with a negative shows that you lack confidence,” Brandon says. Her advice: “If you are unemployed, use your headline and about section to make a case for why you are a great candidate, not why you are a desperate candidate.”

Do not include a limited range of experiences. 

Because you’re applying for one kind of position, you may be tempted to only include experience related to that job description. A better approach? Include a wide range of experiences on your LinkedIn profile. For instance, Pettersson recommends adding in that “volunteer experience that didn’t make it onto your resume.” Sometimes applicants make too many assumptions about the individuals who are hiring them. “Perhaps your soon-to-be new boss is passionate about corporate social responsibility, and the donation drive you recently ran for a local charity is what convinces them you’ll be a great fit for the organization,” says Pettersson. 

“Including a range of different experiences and accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile gives recruiters a more complete picture of you as an individual and a professional,” Pettersson explains.

Do not use an unprofessional photograph. 

Your profile photo will be on display for recruiters to view and you don’t want to lose your place in the application process with an unprofessional photograph. Brandon has sound advice for what type of photograph to include on your LinkedIn profile. “Don’t use a strange or ‘after five’ picture for your profile photo. Give your best impression with a clear and focused photo that reflects your personality. Stay away from cropping yourself out of a group photo, wearing sunglasses or a hat, or using a photo that doesn’t look like you today,” she says. 

Do not skip the headline and about sections.

There may be a tendency to skip certain sections on your LinkedIn profile or assume they’re unimportant. But search engines work in different ways and filling out your headline and about sections can only help you turn up in a search.

“LinkedIn ranks the keywords in these two sections higher than other sections in its search algorithm,” Brandon explains. “Adding relevant titles (what you want to do or what you do) and industry-recognized keywords matter in headlines and the ‘about’ section. I like to incorporate the keywords into an actionable story in the ‘about’ section.”

She offers a few ways to accomplish this.

  • What I Do: Write a paragraph that explains what you do and how you help. 
  • Why I Do What I Do: Tell a story about your passion for your work and add keywords. 
  • My Core Competencies or Areas of Expertise: Add these in to ensure your keywords make it to the “about” section. 

Next time you open up your LinkedIn profile, take a scan and make any tweaks needed to avoid these “nos.” You may land that job quicker than you think.