Your LinkedIn profile is your billboard to the world. Years ago, people built personal websites and showcased their resumes and professional accomplishments on them.
Who needs a personal website now? Your LinkedIn profile is your personal website! There are over 300 million people using LinkedIn, not including you and me!
Because LinkedIn is so huge and because most people don’t have an extra second of time in their day, it’s important to make your LinkedIn profile as strong as it can be. What do I mean by ‘strong?’
I mean human, of course! No one will stop and spend a femtosecond on your LinkedIn profile if it starts out this way: Motivated business leader with skills in multiple disciplines…
Congratulations — you just put 400 people to sleep!
Seriously, you can’t afford to sound like every Star Wars battle drone in your LinkedIn profile. Your human voice has to come through the screen, or else no one will read past the first line of your Summary.
Here are the five worst things you can say in your LinkedIn profile.
When you jump over to LinkedIn to update your profile a few minutes from now, take care of these LinkedIn branding sins first!
- Jack (or Jill) of all trades
- Open to all job opportunities
- I’m savvy, smart, strategic, etc.
- I’m an expert/guru/virtuoso/wizard
- Experienced Business Professional
What’s wrong with each of these branding choices? Let’s break them down, one by one.
Jack (or Jill) of all trades
Anyone could understand why you’d want to brand yourself as broadly as possible. That way you’ll be branded as a person who’s qualified for lots of different jobs, right? Branding doesn’t work that way.
Would you take an out-of-town guest to a restaurant that serves Chinese, Tex-Mex, Thai, Italian, French, Ethiopian and Portuguese cuisine?
I hope not!
When you say you’re a Jack or Jill of all trades, no one really believes that you can do everything well. Who in history ever could?
Tell us what you want to do next. Tell us about the path you’re already on and invite other LinkedIn users to join you on the path.
Don’t go to the talent marketplace with the message “I’ll be whoever you want me to be!”
That’s death to a job-seeker, because it’s a grovelly, desperate message that doesn’t give anyone confidence. It’s up to you to decide what kinds of jobs you want and to brand yourself for those opportunities.
Open to all job opportunities
Here’s the same problem, expressed in a slightly different way. If you’re job-hunting, no one will be excited about corresponding or talking with you if your message is “Please, somebody, rescue me from unemployment!”
As much as everyone can sympathize with a job-seeker’s desire to get a job quickly, it’s still imperative for every job-seeker to do the self-reflective work that any reinvention requires.
Any job search, of course, includes elements of reinvention. We have to (or get to!) reinvent ourselves every time we hit the job market.
You won’t make a hiring manager’s heart beat faster with the message “I’ll take anything!”
Zero in on certain jobs and certain organizations. Focus like a laser, the way good salespeople focus on their most important prospects.
Every job-seeker is a salesperson. It’s not a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s job to decide what you’re supposed to do next in your career. It’s your job!
I’m savvy, smart, strategic, etc.
Confident people don’t praise themselves. Fearful people ladle on the praising adjectives — savvy, strategic, insightful, perceptive and so on. As your muscles grow, you won’t feel any need to tell strangers what you think of yourself.
You’ll simply tell your human story in your LinkedIn profile and let other people react to it however they like.
I’m an expert/guru/virtuoso/wizard/visionary
The more evolved a person is, the less likely he or she is to tell you s/he’s a guru or a wizard.
You don’t need to give yourself those titles, which have no credibility in any case and only brand you as a person who likes to make up titles and bestow them on himself or herself. This is not a good approach. Tell us what you love to do, instead!
Experienced Business Professional
This phrase and its many variations (Seasoned Business Leader, Versatile Strategic Executive, etc.) tell us nothing useful about you, and no one has time to dig more deeply if at first glance you don’t seem to know who you are.
Boring, robotic LinkedIn headlines like “Versatile Business Professional” only tell us that you don’t have enough confidence in your own abilities to pick a career direction and follow it.
You can always change your first-choice career direction later if you run into major obstacles. Your choice of direction is the most important activity in your job search!
Like our Jacks and Jills of all trades and the folks who say “Open to all Job Opportunities,” you’re waffling with this fall-asleep-y branding to the degree that when we look at your LinkedIn profile, we don’t see a living person.
All we see is a pile of business jargon trying unsuccessfully to hide the fear that no matter how hard you hit your job search activities, there might not be an employer for you.
That energy translates all too well through your LinkedIn profile and makes your worst career nightmare a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When you decide what sorts of jobs you want and tell us right in your profile how you got to this point in life and why you chose the career direction you’ve chosen, readers of your profile will perk up.
They’ll be interested in you — and who could blame them?
Take the time and spend the energy to decide where you want to go, then brand yourself for the family of jobs that speaks to you. You’ll be amazed at the difference in your LinkedIn profile and in yourself.
Fortune favors the bold, as you know! Take a chance and brand yourself for only the jobs you’re drawn to — not every job in every organization on earth.
Watch and see what good things result!
This post first originated on www.forbes.com.