When your LinkedIn profile says practically nothing; 8 key areas

I recently read an article by Laura Smith-Proulx, Quick Fixes to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile, that addresses the “Minimal-Effort Profile.” She writes, “Here it is—your name, college education, and current job. Wait – where’s the rest?”

While Laura points out the profiles that show little effort on the user’s part, I’m going to talk about the profile that contains practically nothing. You wouldn’t think it possible, but I’ve seen and immediately abandoned such profiles. I bet I’m not the first either.

Has no photo. This makes me wonder, “Are you faceless?” Can’t you see how a photo can make you easily recognizable and say more than thousand words about you? When I see a photo, I see possibilities–a person who’s a manager, a caring therapist, an established resume writer, a CEO, an aspiring actor.

Lacks a branding, keyword-rich title. Laura nicely states it this way: “This is where you make your opening statement. The key in altering your Headline is to use terms that will trigger your hit rate for both your job target and current position (and potentially your industry).” I say, “No branding title, time to move on.”

Is devoid of a story-telling Summary. Can you believe I’ve seen summaries that…don’t exist? Not even a heading. Why? Because the person hasn’t gotten around to writing one? Here’s where you get to explain your professional experience, state your aspirations, tout your accomplishments. Write in first person if it suits you. Explain why you’re looking for a new career and how your transferable skills make this possible.

Contains no descriptive Experience section. Essentially it says the person has done nothing, accomplished zilch. It says, “I worked as a Graphic Designer at ABC company from 1996 to 2012, and this is all I want to share.” This is where you can dump the content of your résumé or highlight four or five accomplishments. I prefer the latter. How far do you go back? My opinion is stay consistent with your résumé–10-15 years.

Has nothing in the Education section. If you went to college or just high school, you must list it. Not only that, list the activities and societies to which you belonged. In Additional Notes list the most relevant courses and internships in which you partook. You interned at the New York Times? My god, boy, that needs to be said.

Doesn’t make use of Applications: A great way to brand yourself. Do you blog? Show your expertise and writing abilities by starting a blog. WordPress is free (this is not a plug) and there are others. Excellent work to show, like a PowerPoint presentation on the 10 Must-Haves to Be a CEO. This can be placed in Box.net Files. These are just a few.

No Skills section. This is a fairly new LinkedIn feature that requires at least three skills on your way to 100% completion. It is essentially replacing the Specialties feature. Show visitors, including employers, the skills you demonstrate, as well as increase your SEO potential. Check out the bells and whistles this feature provides. People with whom you should connect and projected growth of a skill are just a couple.

Haven’t requested and written recommendations. The last section I’ll address is recommendations, which do a tremendous job of telling visitors who you are through the eyes of your former supervisors, colleagues, vendors, partners, etc. Ask for and write at least five or six recommendations. A profile without recommendations tells employers 1) you haven’t taken the effort to request them and 2) no one will write one for you.

It’s frustrating for me when I see a profile that is bare and demonstrates no effort. My reaction is to move on. And if I’m sent an invite from someone whose profile contains practically nothing, I click “Ignore.” I don’t think I’m superior–I really don’t–but I see a bare profile similar to meeting someone at a networking event who doesn’t talk. Says nothing….

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