27 September 2023

Curating a LinkedIn profile: What to leave out

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Ashley Stahl* says your LinkedIn profile in not something to write and leave — it is a living document that builds your professional brand and your industry credibility.

As a career coach, I must admit that LinkedIn is one of my favourite job-hunting and professional tools.

The community, the connections, the articles, and the opportunities are endless, but I know not everyone feels the same way.

If you want to make a job transition, improve your brand or boost your professional life I have boiled it down to five things you need to remove or update on your LinkedIn profile right now.

Unprofessional profile photo

Your profile photo is the first visual any prospective hire is going to have of you.

Although it would be nice to imagine we live in a world where first impressions don’t exist, they do.

A second is all it takes for someone to make a judgement about it, and when it comes to being perceived as trustworthy, people only take a tenth of a second to decide.

If your photo looks blurry, or is in a strange setting, it doesn’t belong on your profile.

No one wants to look at a picture you have clearly cropped to remove your significant others’ faces from your cheek during a night out.

The good news is cameras on phones today are pretty advanced, so ask a friend for help and set up the scene properly.

Wear professional clothing and something that makes you look clean and well-groomed.

Be mindful of the colours you wear, avoid white, cream or tan, so you don’t look washed out, or unusual on camera.

Position yourself on one side or the other, and turn your head towards the camera, so it doesn’t look like a mug shot, or a head and shoulders commercial.

Extra-curriculars that could be viewed as unprofessional or unnecessary

Your LinkedIn profile is a place to portray yourself to your industry as a professional.

Sift through your content and remove any blog posts, comments or shared links that are outside of your industry and professional goals.

It’s pretty astonishing how many people leave horrible comments and say awful things in articles and blog posts.

Know that sometimes your angry comments are seen, both on LinkedIn and on the internet as a whole.

If there is anything overly negative or mean on your profile take the time to remove it.

I’m not saying don’t be yourself or speak honestly, so before you publish something questionable ask yourself if you would want your future boss or client to read this.

Along with anything unprofessional, ditch the unrelated content to your current career aspirations.

Proprietary Information

This becomes a legal case for what is deemed intellectual property of your employer or of you.

Be sure that you have read, understand and agreed upon the contract you sign with your employer or clients before posting information.

This could include charts, graphs, plans and ideas that an entity doesn’t want to be made public information.

If you have already posted something you might think is violating intellectual property, remove it right away.

If you really want to repost it, contact the parties involved and verify it is safe for sharing and public knowledge.

A third-person bio or summary

Don’t write a third-person bio or summary statement like: “Ashley is talented a career coach, author, and public speaker…”

Instead, write about yourself in the first person: “I am a [fill in the blank] here to help you [fill in the blank].

“My passion and experience has led me down this path… and I am looking for [fill in the blank].”

When you do this, it instantly creates more intimacy and authenticity in your profile. Readers will feel closer to you as if you are speaking directly to them.

Outdated content

I work with a handful of clients creating career transitions into different jobs, industries, and niche markets.

When we go through their professional profiles on LinkedIn, it’s important to make sure they have things targeting the future, not the past.

You should use your previous experiences to showcase your skillset and successes, but make sure it is pertinent to the career path you are currently on, or seeking to be on.

Read through your job descriptions, and update them to align with the kind of job you want next.

If you have any new projects, awards or publications, replace the oldest content with this new information.

A LinkedIn profile isn’t something you make once and leave forever.

It is a living and active platform for you to build a professional brand and foster relationships that will get you new jobs and build your industry credibility.

It is possible to use LinkedIn to land your dream job, and when you consider that 94 per cent of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet potential candidates, these tips can’t be taken lightly.

Even if you aren’t actively looking for something new, you never know when that blog you posted or that connection you made will pay off down the road.

*Ashley Stahl is a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host and author. In a previous life she was award-winning counter-terrorism professional. She can be contacted at ashleystahl.com.

This article first appeared at ashleystahl.com.

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