5 LinkedIn Profile Faux Pas

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

There are 313 million LinkedIn members and counting! Would you want to network with your own profile? Here are 5 profile fails to avoid.

Thanks to social media, now you can post a resume online that delivers much more than...a resume. LinkedIn’s features allow a professional ample space to explain her job duties, the option of video and photo sharing, and a place to update people with news, views, and links to other information like relevant articles or recent work.

Businesses can do the same thing, and everyone can be connected to each other, reaching out to forge alliances with professionals in their fields, hunting for new talent or new jobs.

But some people are doing it wrong. Lots of them, in fact.

Read: 4 Tips for Using LinkedIn as a Marketing and Sales Tool

There are 313 million LinkedIn members and counting. Are you one of those who uses a cat face as his profile picture? You would be wise to look at your own profile from the perspective of someone who might want to connect with or hire you. These are some LinkedIn faux pas that make them click away.

Your profile picture is a selfie of your feet (or something else equally as terrible).

If you want hiring managers to take you seriously, why use a picture of your feet to represent you? Even if you are a shoe designer, this is your personal profile, and people want to know who YOU are.

Michelle Magoffin, social media director at Farmers Insurance, says a LinkedIn photo should be “a work-appropriate picture of you, not one of you wearing sunglasses, or that is clearly cropped from a wedding portrait.” The same thing goes for including puppies, kittens, or babies in your picture.

Read: How to Make Your LinkedIn Content Irresistible

Conversely, it’s not ideal to use a stuffily posed corporate photo either. Your profile pic should make you “look like a person somebody wants to know, but not if you’re hanging out in your backyard,” Magoffin adds. “Unless you have a really fancy backyard.”

You have big blanks under your job titles.

Maybe you’ve done a great job listing all of your past positions, their start and end dates, companies, and managers. But if you don’t include at least a short description of what your duties were, “regional sales” could mean a lot of things. “As a hiring manager,” says Magoffin, “that doesn’t help me at all.”

Titles do not make the man, sir. Or the woman. Recruiters surf hundreds of LinkedIn profiles - might as well put some interesting fish on yours so it will get caught in the net.

“The words sales, marketing, executive, founder, director and owner don't work. Elaborate on what you do: ie Pharmaceutical Account Manager or Finance Director for Fortune 100 Company,” advises career coach and vanguard LinkedIn member Julie Holmwood.

You abuse your connections.

According to a 2011 study, “the typical corporate email user [sent] and [received] about 105 email messages per day.” And that was 4 years ago! Don’t ruin In-Mail, the latest frontier, with bad pitches. If you don’t really know the person to whom you are connected, chances are they don’t know you either.

Read: Study: Google+ and LinkedIn Rate High in Engagement

One big mistake - huge - is sending pitches to your connections that clearly show your ignorance of their profile or their company’s business. “That’s obnoxious and stupid,” vents Jessica Bern, owner of Two Funny Brains, a video production company that specializes in content for social media.

“Personalise your communication,” Holmwood warns. “Don't send the standard LinkedIn messages. They are lame and make you look lazy and disinterested in the person you're messaging.”

Basically, spammy messages will get deleted faster than Buzzfeed posts a new .gif-heavy "article."

Bern suggests you to make your request relevant to that person’s field, and respectful. If the person responds, that’s a good sign that he or she is gracious and your message was appropriate. If not, then let it go.


Since the advent of the LinkedIn newsfeed, members can share links to articles, videos, infographics, photos, etc. A savvy LinkedIn user might be compelled to share this one, even (hint, hint).

But if you are sharing too much personal information, whining like you do on Facebook, or senselessly pushing your hashtagged tweets to LinkedIn because you forgot to deselect it on Hootsuite, then you are guilty of TMI and neglect. Hashtags don’t hyperlink on LinkedIn. “Basically, if you wouldn't say it in the office, LinkedIn is not the place to say it at all,” says Holmwood. It just looks unprofessional. Stop it.

Leaving a recommender hanging.

It is good “LinkedIn etiquette” to write a recommendation on the profile of someone who has written one on yours if you have worked with him in some capacity. “You are supposed to return the favor, and do it in a timely manner,” says Magoffin.

In a 2013 study of 500 sales professionals from Fortune 500 companies, Gregory A. Rich at Bowling Green State University found that most profiles had at least one recommendation. Testimonials are solid currency in this platform, but only if they are genuine.

“You should NEVER recommend someone you haven't personally worked with,” says Holmwood. People can see how you’re connected to the colleagues who have recommended you - so pay attention.

Otherwise, you’re still doing it wrong.

Kim Tracy Prince is a freelance writer in Los Angeles with 14 years of experience creating content for print, web, and television. 

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