Avoid the 7 Most Common Boomer Errors on a LinkedIn Profile

If you are a Boomer, (hey, I am😊!) this checklist is to help avoid the most common “potholes” on the ever-evolving LinkedIn platform. This most important business and professional networking platform has earned a unique role in the world and it seems poised to be a growth giant long into the future (Microsoft acquired it for 26.2 BILLION for a reason!)

Check below to ensure you are sidestepping these crucial ones.

1. Emphasis on years, rather than impact.
2. Treating the profile as “once and done”.
3. Under thinking images (e.g. profile & LI banner)
4. Internal network focus
5. Default “headline & about” sections
6. Cutting and pasting resume replica (or worse….)
7. Ignoring online personal branding realities

Here are a few tips on each of the most common errors I see as a LinkedIn coach and personal brand strategist.

1. Emphasis on Years Rather than Impact

It’s tempting to lean into the tons of experience and lead with that, thinking it automatically qualifies for a win. Big emphasis on years sends the completely WRONG MESSSAGE. That expertise that has been honed through the years does matter. Lead with strong achievement statements.

Today’s business language has changed to a laser focus on achievements, results, and impact. Include distinct, measurable deliverables efficiencies, impacts, and clients wins. Don’t inadvertently communicate that you’re looking to rest on your laurels. It takes more effort to quantify achievements; however, it’s the language that resonates in today’s market.

2. Once and Done Treatment

Remember that your profile should tell the story of where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to be in the future. LinkedIn works best if you treat is as a living document that should be updated and refined on a regular basis. So, set aside time to review what you currently have and make the needed changes.

It should focus on the most recent 10-15 years with a nod to stellar achievements that may reach farther back. Why? Well, the pivotal reason is that almost nothing is being done like it was 15 years ago; don’t waste a lot of LinkedIn real estate on older items. Make a section for noteworthy “Additional Relevant Accomplishments” and briefly highlight those. LinkedIn helps you connect with opportunity, but only if you’re prepared and relevant with your content.

3. RELEVANT PROFESSIONAL IMAGES.

Your headshot IS important. Think of it as an equivalent to a virtual handshake. It leaves a lasting impression.

 Okay, I get it. While we may not be as comfortable in front a lens as today’s Digital Natives, it’s important to get professional and thoughtful images place in the profile space and the banner image behind it. Please don’t crop a group photo from a wedding (Yes, people really can tell it’s a boutonniere). If you make this blunder, it communicates volumes. Here is a nice guide article on how to get a professional looking headshot without spending a fortune. Even if you must invest a bit here, perhaps consider that the image you put forth will create certain specific perceptions of the care placed on your career. 

Banner images are the most underused and highly impactful space of the entire profile. It’s an ideal opportunity to choose a strong image that helps clarify your professional expertise in a way that nothing else can. Here are some examples worth considering.   The images one chooses for this worldwide business professional and networking platform are high impact. Here is a Forbes article that shares useful ideas for various purposes. Remember this image creates a first impression for the reader with direct reflection and implications to your personal brand.

4. Internal Focus.

If you focus only on the internal reputation management and skill development, if the current role goes somewhere (acquisition, merger, etc..) the mountain to climb is huge. While it can be overcome with an intelligent strategy, gaining momentum becomes harder than it should be.

Today’s career map requires anchoring like a three-legged stool. As you begin a career it was highly tempting, (especially inside of a large company) to concentrate on gaining skills, climbing the success ladder while focusing only on internal reputation and moving up the rungs on that specific ladder.

In today’s marketplace, particularly in business development it’s vital to cultivate a vibrant network.

  1.   Default Headline and “About” Section.

Words matter. Do not default to a current job title. It may not have a meaning to those perusing. Create a headline that sums up your specialty or approach succinctly and clearly identified your professional expertise across the length of your career.

LinkedIn’s key word algorithm methods rank the headline as the most important section of key word usage. Think of your headline as a billboard passing by in a few seconds as you barrel down the interstate on a 12-hr. road trip. It needs to be concise, clear, and compelling.

About Section: It is about structure. As a reader peruses your profile, provide a compelling collection of details that “create a mental picture” of the specific problems you solve. If it is not clear and specific on the pain points you have solved for clients, then it’s simply not serving you well.

6. Treating LinkedIn like a resume “replica.

Most recruiters report that once a resume is reviewed and of interest, the next move is to check the LI profile. While you want both to provide a consistent message, the recruiter is looking for something more here. There is some interest in gaining some work perspective insight and/or work personality.

LinkedIn has become a complete personal branding vehicle that works with its own set of rules. LinkedIn is a showcase opportunity for you to illustrate your professional reputation (aka – personal brand).

The experience section is best done with a firm focus on about what you’ve achieved, delivered, and learned in each of your positions. Include distinct measurables and quantify whenever possible. Perhaps share details of interesting projects and key accomplishments. It’s a social platform, so it’s best to use “I” and informal tone.

You want to have it serve you well as you leverage all aspects of your profile, including publications, volunteer work, perhaps hobbies that showcase your dedication, or if it’s one that relates to your profession in some way (aka, mechanical engineer who rebuilds classic cars, etc.)

It is easily noticed to check how you are in employing LinkedIn as a social business networking platform. That awareness of lack of it, speaks volumes. There is interest to see how professionally engaged and current you are within your industry. Most often that is done via LinkedIn today.

7. Ignoring the reality of online personal branding.

As mentioned above, the rules of engagement have changed and while a resume is still important in its own right, the LI platform has rewritten the rules of job search in several significant ways. The #1 is the reality that any professional in a job search now has an online presence, even if you’ve never created a LinkedIn account.

Most Boomers are not fond of personal branding. Generally, discretion, aka not attention-getting, is pretty much been our credo, right? It’s normal to think – hey, “my credentials, expertise and resume speaks for itself. Right? Why would anyone promote themselves?”

Don’t want to have an online “brand”. Too late, you already do.

When you meet someone in a professional setting, typically that individual will look you up on LinkedIn. Google yourself. You have a brand, though it may be an unintentional one. Well, that type of thinking that way is a big mistake today — unless you want to take last place in the career race. Don’t allow your online image and brand be a conglomeration of what others compile, or what you haphazardly posted on LinkedIn a while back?

Recruiters most often review a resume’; next step is to find you online. You have an online brand, whether intentional or not. It’s now pivotal for your career to thoughtfully develop a cohesive and compellingly written personal brand message.

    Summary:

    Take time to review and update your profile regularly, because the search for people with strong expertise like you is a never-ending one. Just don’t step into the stereotype of being out of touch on the most important business networking platform in the world. A complete, up to date, engaging profile tells the world you’re open for the right opportunity and are a lifelong learner.

    What do you have to add? We can likely make this list a bit longer? Thoughts?