By Shareem Kilkenny
If you’re in the job market nowadays, it more critical than ever that you clean up your online presence. Not only that, but you need to update your LinkedIn profile to make sure it reflects the most current and accurate information about your professional experiences and career. Why? Because, according to Brenda Bernstein, author of “How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile…And 18 Mistakes to Avoid”, more than 75% of employers actively research candidates online. A fact that even I found alarming was that research indicated that approximately 70% of employers decided NOT to hire a candidate based on what they found online. Why is maintaining your LinkedIn Profile specifically so important? It is estimated that LinkedIn profiles are viewed by over 25 million people per day. And according to Brenda, approximately 73% of all hires sourced from social media were sourced from LinkedIn.
So expect employers (or potential clients) to Google you, and specifically check out your LinkedIn profile. What they’re looking for, and the level of scrutiny they’ll apply will vary from person to person; but at a minimum you need to make sure the information presented is accurate and consistent with the information you’ve advertised either in-person or on your résumé. If you put on your résumé that you worked at XYZ Company between 2001 and 2008 as an electrical engineer, but your LinkedIn profile states that you only worked there from 2001 to 2003, the employer may grow suspicious that you are embellishing your level of experience. This could be a totally honest oversight on your part; or you may have simply failed to update your LinkedIn Profile when you updated your resume. Nevertheless, this inconsistency may have just cost you an interview.
Beyond accuracy, a good LinkedIn profile will impress the viewer with its appearance. Make sure that the font size and style are consistent throughout. A profile that was slapped together in five minutes will reflect just that. Be sure to include a profile picture; and make sure the picture you include has a professional appearance. That doesn’t just apply to you and your attire, but also consider what’s in the background. Just because you thought you looked cute in the picture you took with your girlfriends at the beach, doesn’t mean you should just crop it and make it your LinkedIn profile picture. If you think that sounds strange, think again…because I’ve seen it. Even though I recommend you post a picture of yourself in business attire, military attire ‘can’ also be appropriate – especially if you’re seeking employment doing the civilian equivalent of what you did in the military, and your military experience is recent. Nevertheless, avoid photos where you’re toting a weapon. You may look tough to your buddies, but some employers will be turned off.