If a tree falls in a forest, but no one hears it, does it make a sound?
I like to think of that question when I peruse LinkedIn profiles. So many of them are like that tree in the forest. No one hears or sees their profile.
The fact is there are definite faux pas experienced professionals make time and again on LinkedIn that relegate their profiles to social media solitary confinement.
But don’t worry. They are easy to fix.
Today, let’s talk about some of the common LinkedIn profile mistakes and how to avoid them in your own profile. And get your visible.
How LinkedIn Profile Mistakes Can Impact Your Personal Brand
But all of that power can go right out the window if you let simple mistakes in your profile get in the way. These mistakes can put a damper on otherwise-engaged professionals who view your profile.
And especially when you’re using LinkedIn as a 50+ professional, there are some specific mistakes that you need to watch out for to prime your profile for success.
Besides ‘s preventing people from engaging with your profile, some of these mistakes can jeopardize your ranking on LinkedIn’s algorithm, making you less searchable within its network.
So it’s important to take the time to button up your profile and ensure everything is working in your favor.
Without further ado, let’s look at 10 mistakes for older professionals to avoid on LinkedIn … and what to do to fix them.
12 LinkedIn Profile Mistakes That Everyone Over 50 Should Avoid
Mistake #1: Going Back 25 Years
People care about what you’re doing now, not what you did many moons ago. You also don’t want to shout out how old you are. Unfortunately, age discrimination exists.
With that in mind, stick to the past 10 years or so of your work history. This gives people a window into the most important years of your career leading up to today without giving away your age.
Mistake #2: Sharing Your College Dates
While we all want to be proud of our age, unfortunately, people may stereotype you as over the hill or out of date if you list the years you graduated from college. Why expose yourself to that? Simply list your university or college and leave it at that.
Mistake #3: Focusing on Titles, Not Achievements
People 50+ tend to be obsessed with titles and educational qualifications. We were taught that these badges of honor mean something. However, a title doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s what you accomplished. And your education is in another era unless you’ve take recent courses or obtained new degrees. The latter is what you want to highlight.
For example, instead of…
VP, Marketing, XYZ Company
Oversaw market research studies that led to major company positioning and an ultimate revenue boost of 25 percent.
Mistake #4: Not Thinking of LinkedIn as a Showcase for Your Personal Brand
Don’t think of LinkedIn as just another social media network. It’s so much more than that. So don’t just write a basic profile with a picture and forget about it. View this as your personal portal into personal branding.
To do this, seek ways to market yourself on the network.
One way to do this is to write articles that establish your expertise on the LinkedIn publishing platform.
Another way to establish your personal brand is to make connections and engage with others on the network.
In these ways, you demonstrate that you’re actively establishing yourself as a brand by adding value. So view your time on LinkedIn as an investment in your brand.
Mistake #5: Having No Cover Image
The cover image is the large image that appears behind your profile photo. If you leave this blank, LinkedIn will use its own generic image in its place. This can be a red flag that tells others that you’re not very social-media-savvy. It can also make your profile fade into the background when compared with other profiles.
When you customize your LinkedIn cover image, it becomes one more visual feature that attracts others. Remember, we are visually attuned and tend to pay more attention to visuals than to text. So choose an engaging cover image that showcases your expertise or something special you want people to highlight.
Mistake #6: Not Branding Your Headline
LinkedIn profiles give you a headline — a space beneath your name — which usually states your role. But, when done right, it also will help you to brand yourself.
After all, this headline appears beside your name in search results. If it’s simply your job title or company name, you risk blending into the background with all the other profiles.
Instead, view this as valuable real estate. With the right words, you can spark curiousity about your brand and make people want to click through to learn more about you.
Mistake #7: Not Claiming Your Personal URL
When you initially sign up for LinkedIn, you’re assigned a generic, public URL. Take the time to customize your URL — what some people refer to as a vanity URL. This will look something like linkedin.com/yourname. Mine is Linked.com/in/wendyamarx. This will make it easier for people to find you on the network.
If you have a popular first and last name, the URL with your name will be taken. Instead use your middle name or initial or another distinguishing name. This also will help your URL stand out.
Mistake #8: Not Completing Your LinkedIn Profile
There are several components to LinkedIn, all of which are important to building your brand as a 50+ professional. Here are the most essential parts you need to complete…
Recruiters and prospects will vet these sections to suss out wha kind of professional you are. Blank spaces can make you seem unorganized and even not serious about your career.
Mistake #9: Having LinkedIn’s “Open to Work” in Your Header
Of course, initially, this sounds like a great idea — let people know that you’re open to work!
But, in reality, it’s not the best idea. Here’s why. It makes it look like your profile tagline is Open to Work. Recruiters want someone who is working. Even if you’re out of work, you can volunteer, take classes, show your vigor and enthusiasm. This shows that you’re not just sitting around, waiting for an opportunity to land in your lap.
So skip the Open to Work header and leave your profile looking sharper and ready for recruiters and prospects.
Mistake #10: Not Having an Engaging About Section
Recruiters are scrolling through hundreds of profiles every day. So you need to grab their attention. That means focusing on your About section, the most important part of your profile. Remember: Its first few lines are all that appear till you hit “more.” So if those lines aren’t grabbers, you risk losing people’s attention.
Hat tip to personal branding guru William Arruda for this suggestion.
Mistake #11: Not Using Keywords in Your Summary
Keywords are specific words and phrases that people search for online in order to find what they need. Search engines like Google use them and so does LinkedIn. Keywords have become the secret sauce to anything you do online. By using keywords, you open yourself up to many more opportunities.
How do you choose the right keywords?
Think about words that describe your industry and what specific words people are looking for as they search for professionals in your industry.
Once you have determined your keywords, pepper them lightly throughout your profile to attract the right people.
Mistake #12: Not Including Recommendations or Skills
LinkedIn’s recommendations and skills sections are more than just dull lists. These provide social proof of your abilities and expertise. When people see real people recommending you and endorsing certain skills, it gives your brand a more solid foundation.
So take the time to complete your skills section and ask everyone you know to endorse you for hose skills. Anyone you’ve worked closely with in the past, reach out and request that they write you a recommendation. Assuming you did a stellar job, people are normally happy to do so.
An indirect way of getting recommendations and skills is to write recommendations and endorse others for skills. When they see that you’ve done this for them, they’ll be more likely to return the favor.
Bonus Tip: Write in the First Person
Older professionals have imbibed the mother’s milk of being professional to a fault. They think if they write in the first person it’s not professional. What it is is off-putting and phony. Everyone knows you wrote it so who are you kidding to write in the third person. How do you feel if a friend suddenly refers to himself or herself in the third person? Weird isn’t it? LinkedIn is social. Behave the way you would in a professional social situation.
Concluding Thoughts on LinkedIn Profile Mistakes
Now that you know the mistakes for people age 50 and over to avoid on LinkedIn, it’s time to revisit your LinkedIn profile. Tweak your profile to make it more appealing so you can shine as an older professional.
I hope these LinkedIn profile mistakes show you the traps to avoid and help you make the most of this powerful network to get the results you deserve.
Let me know what you think of these Linkedin profile mistakes
I want to know what profile mistakes you’ve found and how you resolved them, as well as how you’ve made a success of your personal brand on LinkedIn
Let me know in the comments below.