What Does Your LinkedIn Profile Say About You?
In my work as a writer and career coach, I spend a great deal of time on LinkedIn. I review hundreds of profiles a month, including those of new colleagues, potential clients, podcast guests, speaking agents, journalists, thought leaders and more. I also train my clients and course members how to communicate more powerfully, and build stronger LinkedIn content that elicits interest and follow up.
This work allows me a window into “seeing” people’s real personalities, challenges, and blocks through their writing. What I’ve learned is this: How you do LinkedIn is how you do your professional life. And if you're not careful, your LinkedIn profile shares aspects of your professional life and how you view yourself that you won’t want others to know.
Here are five things your LinkedIn profile reveals that you’re probably not aware of (and will want to change).
1. You’re hiding
If you don’t have a photo up on your profile, you’re hiding, plain and simple. LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with more than 530 million users in over 200 countries and territories. With that volume of activity, many users undoubtedly 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. Make it professional (no bathing suits, etc.). This is a professional platform, not a dating app. 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 keep in mind who you want to engage with, and make sure your content will connect with people you'll be excited to talk to.
2. You’re not passionate about your work
It’s clear how you feel about your work by the words you use to explain it. 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. People who have deep passion for their field and endeavors communicate that with a vitality and energy that speaks volumes about how much they’re connected to what they’re doing.
Tip: Go through your profile, and replace every single word that is boring, 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, it’s indicative that you’re in the wrong career, job or employer.)
3. You don’t know your value or what you’re great at
I can’t tell you how many professionals miss the boat in terms of failing 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 on LinkedIn exactly what you do that brings about important outcomes that help the company thrive or grow. 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: Spend this weekend sitting quietly without distractions, and 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, etc.) Then connect the dots. 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?”
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 and how that's of use in the world.
For more on how to develop the 20 facts of you, check out my TEDx talk “Time to Brave Up:”
4. 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) whereas your profile should be written to highlight what you have to offer. Write it with the express intent of engaging the reader. 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. And make sure you are crystal clear about what you can do going forward, not just recite your past history.
Tip: Never use your headline to talk about looking for opportunities. That’s a given. We’re all looking for opportunities there. Use that precious real estate to share what you do, who you do it for, and the outcomes you’re passionate about bringing forward.
5. You’re not sure why your work matters
Finally, 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 can continue to make a difference in other situations, opportunities and employers. You’re more than just your current job (please recognize that), but if you don’t share how you can apply your talents and abilities in ways that move organizations forward, the reader can’t envision exciting future possibilities for you.
Tip: Make sure that everything you write is not task-oriented, but benefit-focused. And share most about what you love doing, not the boring, mundane work you never want to do again. Every word you write has the power to attract to you more of same. So if 80% of your work makes you feel dead inside, then emphasize the 20% that makes you feel alive, important and valuable in the world.