Since your CV is only seen by a select number of people, your LinkedIn profile is even more attractive to the platform’s more than 800 million users. LinkedIn gives your profile readers the ability to quickly browse your LinkedIn profile and interpret your professional background. Thus, it is imperative that your presence on LinkedIn is robust, powerful and detailed.
As a Certified LinkedIn Profile Expert, I have an eye for spotting the big mistakes others make on the platform. I am on a constant quest to educate readers on how they can improve their LinkedIn profile, increase their LinkedIn search rankings, and be seen and noticed by the right audience. That’s why in this week’s column, I turn to the LinkedIn Experience section to show you what mistakes you could be making and what to do instead.
Discrepancies between job titles and dates of employment
First, make sure your LinkedIn experience section matches your resume in terms of job title, company/business name, and dates of employment. Many professionals overlook this part of their LinkedIn profile, but it’s imperative to check that your employment dates and job titles match your resume. If they don’t, a reader may question your truthfulness and credibility.
Your job titles carry more weight in search results than your experience section details. If you were an associate attorney in a firm’s commercial litigation practice group, don’t just put “associate attorney” for your job title. Instead, write “Associate Lawyer, Commercial Litigation” to frame your job title with important keywords that increase your ranking in search results.
Submit your CV in your LinkedIn experience section
Do not, I repeat, do not insert your CV in your LinkedIn profile. It’s a bad idea and you may not even realize you’re making a huge mistake. Here’s why:
Your CV will be much more detailed than your LinkedIn profile, and for good reason. Your LinkedIn profile is designed to quickly grab a reader’s attention to your professional journey, but not so much that the reader gets lost in the details. Your resume will give results, accomplishments, special projects, and contributions as context beyond your job duties. This information is often much more confidential in nature and should be kept only for CV and resume.
Therefore, your LinkedIn profile should not contain any confidential or proprietary information. This means omitting revenue figures (unless of public record), financial/growth percentages, or other information that could be construed as trade secrets.
If you just upload the content of your resume to your LinkedIn profile, you are allowing more than 800 million users on LinkedIn to have access to this proprietary information. I can’t tell you how many non-lawyers I consult include sales numbers, cost savings amounts, and other proprietary metrics in their LinkedIn experience section. My head spins like Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist” when I see this, and I always advise them to remove proprietary and confidential data from their profile.
When in doubt, save accomplishments and exciting results for your resume, which will be read by this hand-selected audience. Don’t allow your best-preserved work to be reflected on a publicly accessible website for the world to see.
Another key issue with dumping your resume in your LinkedIn experience section: you’re also giving people unrestricted access to plagiarize your resume content for their own career or professional gain. So, you want your LinkedIn profile to be as tightly tailored to frame your career experience without giving away the kitchen sink. You need to carefully weigh what sounds like your voice versus what can easily be duplicated (or stolen) by another LinkedIn user. My published content has been stolen over the years, and LinkedIn profiles are no different.
Remember, if a legal recruiter, HR manager, or business executive wants your resume, they will ask for it.
If you want to update your experience section and send notifications to your network, first check that your notification alerts are disabled.
Leave your experience details blank (especially if you are unemployed)
While some may choose to leave the LinkedIn experience section details blank, if you’re unemployed, you’ll definitely want to put some effort into your experience section details. Your LinkedIn profile allows you to share insight into your career history with the outside world before someone gets your resume in their hands. Thus, it is imperative for you to connect the dots between your roles and your career advancement so that a reader can easily see it.
For example, if you worked for a company/company that merged with another company/company, explain the connection between the two. If you left a company/company because it was dissolved, explain this link.
All it takes is a short sentence explaining the story: “Leaving company/business due to downsizing” or “XYZ bought/acquired ABC. Transition to an internal role with XYZ. It also helps explain gaps and shorter periods, creating more context for a reader who doesn’t yet have your resume.
Your LinkedIn experience section provides you with a great opportunity to include high-value keywords that focus on your job functions and areas of expertise to increase targeted reader understanding as well as visibility. Your LinkedIn experience section also gives you the opportunity to show a progression of different additional roles and responsibilities, especially if you’ve had a long stint with the company or company. Adding two to four sentences of detail with highly searchable keywords to the LinkedIn experience section can help you better frame your career experience.
Keep in mind that digital readers have a short attention span. They seek to digest content quickly without feeling exhausted. Just as resumes contain short, concise, and punchy sentences, so will your LinkedIn profile. Long blocks of text make it harder to digest the content. Also, the further back you go in your work history, the more distant things become and the fewer details will be included.
Ultimately, LinkedIn is all about first impressions for recruiters, hiring managers, and all professionals who might be future clients, employers, or peers. Remember, the LinkedIn Experience section is the back cover of the book and the table of contents, but it’s not the entire 200-page book.
Have a question about creating your LinkedIn experience section? Email me or post on LinkedIn and ask.
Wendi Weiner is a lawyer, career expert and founder of The Writing Guru, an award-winning executive resume writing services company. Wendi creates powerful career and personal brands for lawyers, executives, and suite/board leaders for their job search and digital footprint. She also writes for major publications on alternative careers for lawyers, personal branding, LinkedIn storytelling, career strategy, and the job search process. You can reach her by email at [email protected]connect with her on LinkedInand follow her on Twitter @thewritingguru.