Early in our professional lives, everyone’s goal is to amass as much useful experience, transferable skills, education and credentials as possible to set us apart from other entry-level competition.
However, we all reach a point where we need to shift our focus as professionals from the quantity to the quality of information to catch the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.
To do this, there are several easy ways to quickly refocus the information listed on your profile while making LinkedIn updates.
You want your readers to easily scan your education section and see where you graduated from, what degrees you have, and what you studied. After you have a degree, it is a good idea to remove any mention of high school or other colleges you studied at but did not graduate from. This information clouds the important facts and is no longer relevant. One exception is if you studied abroad for a semester or a year. This information adds interest to your profile.
If you do not have a college degree but are at the mid-point of your career, you still need to remove your high school information. Instead, it’s a good idea to replace the education section altogether and gain one or two certifications that are relevant to your industry to fill the void and increase your competitiveness among other applicants.
Old or Irrelevant Experience
When hiring managers and recruiters look at your experience section, they want to quickly see the relevant work you have done, the impact you have made, and how your background can apply to their business.
According to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salaried worker has been in their position only 4.2 years, and that number drops to just 2.8 years for workers between the ages of 25-34. This often means careers are now built on foundations of multiple positions with many different employers. Because many professionals’ careers no longer follow a straight path or traditional “ladder,” many people tend to just add to their experience sections on top of older entries without removing previous roles.
If this sounds like you, it may be time to take a close look at what is listed in your experience section and whether all positions still fit your current professional brand when making LinkedIn updates. If you have been out of college for five years or more, it is time to remove internships (unless they have significant skills you cannot list anywhere else). If you are still early in your career or have graduated from college between 5 and 10 years ago, listing internships can actually make you seem younger and therefore less qualified than your middle-aged competition. Also, remove entry-level positions that do not really speak to the professional you are today.
It is also a best practice to remove any positions older than 10 or 15 years. For most positions older than that, the skills are not necessarily relevant anymore and you are just highlighting your age to hiring managers and recruiters. Also, pay attention to second jobs or part-time positions. If they can be removed without having a gap in employment and losing relevant skills, then it is best to do so. The key is for your audience to quickly see how your experience aligns with their needs. Internships, second jobs, and entry-level positions do not often do that.
At this point in your career, it is time to get a professional photo. It is no longer appropriate to have a candid shot from a party with someone else cropped out. It may take a little time and expense to get a quality professional photo taken, but it makes a huge difference in how your online brand is perceived. Also, studies have shown that people react more favorable to LinkedIn profile photos where people are smiling. It’s always a good idea to appear approachable and friendly to hiring managers and recruiters.
Generic Profile Titles
Many people do not realize that you can actually customize the profile title that appears below your name when making LinkedIn updates. It is automatically set to show your current job title, but it is actually better to edit it to something more general and descriptive of the type of work you are looking for. An example is if your current title is “Regional Sales Account Manager,” you can edit this to read, “Proven Leader in Sales & Account Management.” Also, never list “Looking for New Opportunities” when making LinkedIn updates to your title. This highlights your unemployment to recruiters. Instead, find something that highlights your value like “Experienced Marketing Executive Ready to Build Your Brand.”
There is really no need to list your marital status, your birth date, or your hobbies when making LinkedIn updates unless they are specifically relevant to your industry or desired position. This information is really more for a European-style CV and doesn’t add value to your profile for American audiences. You can, however, show personality in your summary, title, and volunteer sections to make up for the loss of personal data.
By making these LinkedIn updates you can make a huge difference in the way people perceive you. It really is worth your time as a mid-career professional to make sure that you are effectively highlighting your value and relevant information on LinkedIn to gain the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.