A LinkedIn Profile Mistake: The Phantom Job Experience


Reading time ( words)

I see the following way too often: I'm reading someone’s LinkedIn profile and I see they were at company “A” 10 years ago. They were there for two years. There’s a paragraph on what their responsibilities were and what they accomplished. Then they were at company “B” for three years. Two separate entries here, as they received a promotion after the first year. More on their responsibilities and what they accomplished. So far, so good. Same for company “C” for another three years. Now they are at their current employer, company "D." They've been at company “D” now for the past year and a half. And what do they have to say about their current job position, responsibilities, and accomplishments? Nothing. Just a title. No job description, no responsibilities, no accomplishments--nothing at all.  

Why do people do this?

Regardless of the goal in reading someone’s profile, the single most important thing you want to see in someone’s LinkedIn profile is if what they are doing in their current position is relevant.

How can a recruiter or human resources person gauge whether a person may be what their company is looking for when there's no information on what that person is doing currently? How can a business person gauge whether the person in the LinkedIn profile is an appropriate person to contact at the company? How can an industry peer decide whether the individual would be a good one to network with if they have no idea what they are currently doing?

If I can see from the job titles that you went from R&D assistant to Engineer 3 to Engineer 2 to Engineer 1 to Head of R&D, do I really need to see all the things you did in those previous four positions? No. I need to see what you are doing now. In this instance, the job titles alone tell me about the progression, and that you apparently performed them with distinction.

The one question a person needs to think about in writing their LinkedIn profile is “what do I want the reader to know?” Well, if someone comes by to read that profile, they want to know what that person is doing now.

I imagine that some people get a new position, update their LinkedIn profile and then forget about filling in a description of what they are now doing.

No one ever seems to talk about this, but I think it is as big an error as not having a photo, or not bothering with a summary or not taking advantage of the title field. LinkedIn users leaving this information out do themselves a disservice.  Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in social media and especially LinkedIn. He has over 25 years experience in high-tech sales and management. He can be reached at brucej@practicalsmm.com or through his profile on LinkedIn.

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