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Your Professional Image - What 10 Minutes on LinkedIn can Do

LinkedinI review LinkedIn profiles almost every day. By now, I have seen at least 2,000, and I just cringe when I see things that could or will hinder someone’s professional image.  I am not in a position to advise people individually, so this blog is the next best thing.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn goes beyond looking good for recruiters.  Even if you are not interested in a new job, your online image still needs attention. If anyone Googles you - a potential client or employer, your company’s VP, a former supervisor, a reporter or even a prospective date - your LinkedIn profile could easily be the first thing that shows up. You want your best foot forward all the time.

I estimate that in 10 minutes (give or take), you can make a real difference by:
  1. Fixing typos and punctuation errors. I see them a lot. They can kill your prospects on a traditional resume, and LinkedIn is no different. (For those who are seeking a new job, a recent Jobvite survey found that typos in a person’s profile were an even bigger turnoff to recruiters than alcohol use. But check your Facebook privacy settings for photos and albums to be safe!) Review every section, including your title. Common mistakes include misspelling “the” and missing prepositions like “to.”
  2. Checking capitalization. There seem to be a lot of e.e. cummings fans out there who lower case their name, the first word of a phrase, their titles or name of their employer.  I see this as much as I do the typos, and I’m sorry to tell you that it doesn’t look hip. It says, “I couldn’t be bothered to hit the caps key.” Same goes for substituting an ampersand for “and.” 
  3. Keeping it fresh.  Is there a PowerPoint, article or blog that you’ve read or written that would be of interest to your peers? Post it, either on your LinkedIn landing page under the “Share an update” box or in one of the groups you belong to. 
  4. Eliminating the mystery.  If your profile lists United States instead of a specific city, “spammer” is the first word that comes to mind. The same goes for missing employment information, education or picture. I realize many folks have privacy or security concerns, but this goes to your credibility.  In a professional group discussion, whose opinion would you give more credence to, the 40something, smiling brunette named Mary Schmidt from Des Moines with a bachelor’s degree from Texas A &M who works for Smith LLC, or John S., an accounting professional in the United States whose picture you can’t see? Which brings me to…
  5. Replacing or adding a photo. A profile with a picture is 7 to 11 times more likely to get viewed than one without.  At the risk of sounding obvious, make sure it is a good one – not grainy or blurry. And at the risk of sounding like a wet blanket, the flirty, mysterious or party photos may fly on Facebook (smart to be careful there too), but definitely not on LinkedIn.  Ditto for photos with kids or pets unless it relates to your profession.  It should be just you, looking professional

For more help with LinkedIn and social media in general, check out the AICPA’s User Guides (for AICPA members) – they are great for walking you through the basics, introducing you to tools you may not know about and giving expert advice on building a profile, as well as the do’s and don’ts of social media etiquette. 

How’s your LinkedIn profile looking these days?

Ann Marie Maloney, Communications Manager - Tax, American Institute of CPAs.

Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

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