7 Ways a Self-Written LI Profile Can Derail Your Job SearchIf you anticipate launching a job search now or at any time in 2018, one of the most critical things you will have to do is upgrade and polish your LinkedIn profile. Most job seekers assume this is no big deal, but the wrong content and structure in your LinkedIn profile can be extremely dangerous to your job hunt by limiting your access to career opportunities.

For example:

  1. A poor headline will reflect negatively on your brand. The LinkedIn search algorithm draws key words from 3 primary locations in your profile, one of which is your headline. If yours contains the wrong key words or none, this will reduce your search ranking, but it will also negatively influence your brand given that your headline is listed every time your profile shows up in any search, status update, or LinkedIn Group comment you make.
  2. A poor summary will cause your profile to rank low in searches. The second place in your profile that the LinkedIn search algorithm draws key words from is your summary. Don’t have one? Then your ranking will be dismal. Have one but don’t have the right combination or number of key words? Then your ranking will be dismal. Have one but don’t have strong branding? Then your readers will pursue other candidates.
  3. The wrong key words will cause your profile to sink in searches. Since your LinkedIn profile is a web page, key words are vital. This means it must contain the right number (not too few or too many), the right density in the right locations (based on the LinkedIn search algorithm), and the right ones (your key words must be industry-specific). Guessing which key words are important for your profile will likely limit the number of views your profile gets and the opportunities it attracts.
  4. The wrong work history structure will decrease your profile’s readability. Heat map research shows us how recruiters read LinkedIn profiles: which sections they pay attention to; which they ignore; which portions they spend the most or least time on; and which aspects of your profile they read more than once. All this data shows professional LinkedIn profile writers what to emphasize. And one key thing this research reveals is that the structure of your experience as showcased on your profile is critical: the wrong structure will cause readers to move on to the next candidate rather than get to know your background.
  5. A lack of age-proofing can ruin your profile’s ability to win you access to career opportunities. Since LinkedIn is a massive Applicant Tracking System, it’s search algorithm allows recruiters to look for candidates with a specific amount of experience if they choose to. In these instances, a lack of age-proofing in your profile (meaning you have dates in your profile which serve as red herrings in recruiter searches) will prove catastrophic. This same problem occurs in self-made resumes and is equally catastrophic in job searches. In fact, I would argue this is one of the most common reason that job hunters search for new positions for months on end, yet win few to no interviews.
  6. An inadequate Skills section will further decrease your profile’s search ranking. The third important profile location that the LinkedIn search algorithm draws key words from is your Skills & Endorsements section. You are permitted to list up to 50 skills and I strongly urge the addition of 50, yet your selections must also be the right words and be listed in the right order. When it comes to key words, the order always matters because search algorithms place a higher value on words included earlier in a sentence, phrase, or list.
  7. Poor leveraging of LinkedIn Groups will limit the effectiveness of your networking, the depth and breadth of your contact network, and the influence reach of your brand. LinkedIn Groups are one of the most powerful aspects of your profile, yet they are also one of the most consistently underused features by most job seekers. I’ve written extensively about this elsewhere, so suffice it to say that a small list of Groups or joining the wrong Groups will unnecessarily impair your brand and your job search results. LinkedIn allows you to join 100 Groups and job search success demands that you join a minimum of 30 to 50, though more is better.

As you can see, any one of these issues can cause significant damage to your job search. But if your profile suffers from more than one of these problems, the negative impact will be severe. You have a clear assignment before you if you plan to launch a job hunt any time in the next 1 to 2 years: overhaul your LinkedIn profile yourself using the above best practices and those published elsewhere, or get a professional to do it for you.


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About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.