Mistake 1: You’re not on LinkedIn. If you’re not, you need to be—even if you’re working for the government! While LinkedIn is used more in the private sector than in the government, the US Army has the largest number of “employees” of any company in the world. And in some agencies I work with, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you won’t get an interview.
Mistake 2: You don’t have a picture OR your picture is not professional. LinkedIn profiles with pictures are reviewed more often as those that don’t have one (some say 7-10 times more often). Your picture provides credibility and shows that you are a real person; this helps with networking and personal branding. And if you’re worried about potential discrimination because of gender, race, or age, not having a picture will not help you avoid discrimination—it may just happen later in the process. And if your picture is not professional, fix it. LinkedIn is not the place to have unprofessional pictures, pictures of your pets, pictures of you with a drink in your hand, or pictures with an arm over your shoulder that hasn’t been cropped.
Mistake 3: You haven’t taken the time to create a real profile. So you have a LinkedIn account but haven’t really filled out the various sections. This is a mistake. While not every single category needs content, you should have a robust headline and profile summary (these are the categories the algorithms target), and include your professional experience, and education.
Mistake 4: Using LinkedIn’s generic invitation and not customizing your outreach to potential connections. When you invite someone to connect with you on LinkedIn, take the opportunity to tell them why you’d like to connect. LinkedIn makes this easy by asking you if you want to send a customized invite.
Mistake 5: Not making your LinkedIn and resume compatible. Notice I said compatible, not identical. Your LinkedIn should not be a copy and paste of your resume. However, it should be compatible with your resume in terms of work experience, dates of your work experience, and education. Do not put jobs on your LinkedIn that are not included in your resume—and double check all dates are consistent across both documents.
Mistake 6: Not customizing your LinkedIn URL. LinkedIn allows you to customize your LinkedIn URL; you should do so. Its easy. Instructions can be found: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/87?lang=en
Mistake 7: Not being active on LinkedIn. You should use LinkedIn whether or not you’re looking for a job. You should connect with people, follow groups, respond to others’ comments and links. And you should be keeping your profile up to date.
Mistake 8: Not having recommendations. Those recommendations need to be credible so don’t just ask your family and besties for them. Ideally, customers, managers, and colleagues should be providing your recommendations.
Mistake 9: Poor grammar and typos. ‘Nuff said.
Mistake 10: Talking trash—about your employer, colleagues, and political issues. LinkedIn is for professional issues and interests. Politics, swearing, and inappropriate comments have no place and diminish your brand and professional credibility.