Top 5 LinkedIn Profile Failure errors

LinkedIn profile failure means that you are not going to get the attention you need to get hired. LinkedIn is a critical tool for job seekers but if you don’t know what you are doing, you will be ignored.

LinkedIn Profile Failure #5 – Sounding Desperate

When you put “seeking a new opportunity” in your headline, it sounds desperate. I believe in leading with your strengths. In the comments of an article I was reading on LinkedIn, someone said a recruiter told him that it helps a recruiter to know who is available. This just sounds like one recruiter’s opinion and a lazy one at that. Recruiters make their money by finding matches but they are not supposed to look for the easy hit. The reason companies hire recruiters is because they can’t find the applicants on their own. Lead with your strengths.

 LinkedIn Profile Failure #4 – Wrong Headline

Wrong headline, no headline, last job headline. This relates to Failure #1. The headline area of LinkedIn is the top section by your photo. I used to write 120 character branding statements but recently have started a modified strategy that takes the general title of the client and adds keywords matching their talents. Here is a LinkedIn headline that landed a new promotion to President:

Dynamic e-commerce & Business Development Executive | Omni Channel Marketing | Strategic Planning | Process Improvement

Note the keywords combined with a brief brand. The key words (Omni Channel Marketing | Strategic Planning | Process Improvement) have to fit the areas you are targeting. The branding statement describes what you bring to the table: Dynamic e-commerce & Business Development Executive.

LinkedIn Profile Failure #3 – No Details

I review many LinkedIn profiles only listing name, rank, and serial number. Successful job landers fill out the job descriptions in each position with robust value. You have 2000 characters per position, put those characters to work for you.

LinkedIn Profile Failure #2 – No Summary

Another missing area on many LinkedIn profiles. The summary is also a 2000 character area ripe for describing the value you bring, the areas of specialty that make you the right candidate, and labeled with keywords explaining how you might contribute.

LinkedIn Profile Failure #1 – Not connecting

Occasionally, I start with a new client who has a great LinkedIn profile but 13 or 42 connections. The value of LinkedIn is connecting with others to build your network and access networks of your connections. If you don’t connect, you don’t achieve value.

Your LinkedIn Photo

I didn’t list the photo as a LinkedIn profile failure but it often is one more area people fail to use properly. You need a photo in your LinkedIn profile. Not a mug shot or a pin-up photo but not necessarily a professional photo either. It should look professional but not necessarily be a suit.

LinkedIn profile writing and coaching are key elements of my career marketing and resume writing packages. Partnering with a professional to create a branded career marketing presence has jump-started the job search for many of my successful clients. Don’t leave LinkedIn out of your career marketing!

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Top 5 LinkedIn Profile Failure errors


  1. Pocono Charlie on June 20, 2014 at 9:47 am


    Regarding your comment about not linking; can you settle a debate regarding whether there’s value in open networking? I have been on LinkedIn for 10 years, when the emphasis was to connect *only* with people you know or with whom you have an established, professional relationship. What is the purpose of racking up huge numbers of people you don’t know?

    As for the photo, in my mind that has been one of the worse additions to LI; for one thing, it makes LI more like Facebook or other unprofessional sites, for another its problematic for those of us who don’t photograph at all well.

    • Julie Walraven on June 20, 2014 at 11:18 am

      I think open networking itself has little value if it means just grabbing huge numbers. Networking is not speed dating and should not be construed as such. However, I also have stretched the who to connect with much further than established relationships in the past. I have a broad network which could be trimmed but for the most part is filled with people I value. I think you should be deliberate in connecting and you should keep your network active. It takes commitment and time but contacting members of your LinkedIn connections regularly with an email or even a phone call if appropriate. If you can’t do that, you probably shouldn’t be connected.

      While I agree LinkedIn is the more professional of the networks, it is also a space that you can use to share relevant professional information so in that sense, it could be like Facebook… a social networking media. As for the relevance of the photo, LinkedIn has had photos for a very long time. If you find the right photographer and dress and groom appropriately, you should come up with a head shot that works. I am hard to shoot but I have had great photographers that have made me look very professional.

  2. Pocono Charlie on June 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for the response.

    Regarding the inactive members, I research them semiannually, and prune accordingly.

    As for the photo – For the last +25 years it was considered inappropriate to include photos when submitting a paper resume, yet it’s automatically considered required for online bios. This makes sense?

    I assure you: despite grooming & a photographer, I am one of those people who just does not look good in photos. I cannot help but wonder how many positions I’ve been overlooked for because I *did* include my photo.

    • Julie Walraven on June 20, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Resumes online or paper still have the rule of not having a photo unless you are in a career such as modeling, acting, or similar in the US where the resume requires a photo or head shot or you are in another country and they require them.

      But LinkedIn isn’t your resume and it isn’t even designed just for job seekers. It is a social media networking tool used by professionals to make professional connections. It is used by many people to find like-minded people and a photo helps create the conversation.

      Since I do not know your background and have not seen your LinkedIn profile, I can’t determine if the photo had an impact.

  3. Maverick Martin on June 21, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Great article Julie. I have 380 connections and almost every one one of them is from a personal relationship or interaction. People send connection requests to me frequently. If they don’t include a photo in their profile it is almost an automatic rejection. If you don’t take the time to build your profile, and a photo is a basic component, then your profile will have little value to me. If I want to connect you with someone I am not going to share a poorly done profile. If you want good introductions you need a good profile.

    • Julie Walraven on June 21, 2014 at 7:41 am

      Totally agree, Maverick. An understanding of how LinkedIn works is often missing. People get an invite, set up a basic profile, and forget about it. Or they think the content doesn’t matter. I stand by the need for a photo and that a good photographer who is shooting a head shot can make anyone look good.

  4. Bob Berchtold on June 23, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I’m so glad you included the Headline and Summary in your list.

    You can create a LinkedIn profile that’s better than 90% on the site just by having a good (not great) photo, a unique and informative headline (the default isn’t very helpful here), and a summary that’s easy to read and provides enough information for a recruiter to know if they want to read more.

    • Julie Walraven on June 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Bob. I agree. Minimizing your LinkedIn profile or not completing it is a job seeker mistake in today’s competitive market where recruiters are using the tool regularly to source candidates.

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