By Manik Rege

Read: 11 mins.


COVID-19 has made ‘working from home’ the new normal. So we’re naturally spending more time on social media to satisfy the need for human connection. We might read the news, watch tutorials to skill up, or just purr along with cat videos … here’s a cool one! 👇

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Add to this the global wave of lay-offs, which has left many of us scrambling for new jobs, and it’s no wonder that LinkedIn is reporting record-high traffic during the lockdown. This platform has become a “pandemic sweet spot” to hang out on because it acts both as a professional interaction forum as well as a job-hunting portal.

That is why having a good online presence here is crucial for all of us. So here are seven rookie mistakes to avoid on LinkedIn – if you’re serious about getting noticed and hired in the industry!

The 7 LinkedIn Sins

  1. No custom URL
  2. The tagline isn’t keyworded
  3. A boring “About”
  4. No engagement with others
  5. No recommendations
  6. Generic DP & cover
  7. No documents

1. No Custom URL

LinkedIn will assign you generic URL, which will probably look messy: linkedin/in/manikrege-49541323.

But a custom URL looks neater and more professional. It’s also easier to remember or share. So keep it as simple as you would your username on any other site. Here’s how to claim yours on LinkedIn:

  • Go to the right sidebar on your profile
  • Click on “Edit public profile & URL”
  • Change the URL to this format: “name-surname”

The result should look something like: linkedin.com/in/manik-rege.


2. Tagline isn’t Keyworded

When recruiters search for new hires, LinkedIn sorts profiles according to your tagline/title (which appears below your name). So if you want to appear in more searches, you need to fill up this block with keywords that people look for.

Here are some taglines to avoid:

Sr. TaglineWhy avoid?
1Unemployed I Seeking Opportunity ImmediatelyThis is desperate & makes you vulnerable to low offers.
2Fresh Media Graduate from Random UniversityNobody wants freshies, unless you’re from Harvard or MIT.
3Motivated Hustler I Go Chase Your Dreams! Live life large!This is a tagline, not a TED Talk. Kindly preach elsewhere.

Instead, here are some keyword-friendly formats:

Sr. TaglineWhy use it?
1Social Media Strategist (Digital Marketing)Choose job titles that an HR person is likely to search. Clarify your niche.
2Design Specialist I Creative Intern, Amazon I Ex-GooglerShow off brand names to catch the viewer’s attention.

3. Boring “About”

Your summary is the first section any recruiter will read. If it’s not attractive and unique enough, they might not even bother to see all the great experiences or degrees you’ve collected.

Unfortunately, many of the “About” sections I see are riddled with cliche and vague descriptions like:

❌ Motivated & results-oriented hustler who wants to learn new things

❌ People-friendly person with demonstrated exp. in managing people.

❌ I am a programmer. But in my free time I love to read Stephen King.

Such descriptions are “me-oriented,” and carry no relevance or value for a stranger. Instead, your summary should answer these crucial questions to grab the recruiter’s attention and make them consider you as a strong candidate.

Divide it into 4 paragraphs:

Sr. FocusExample
1What’s your core expertise?
What makes you attractive?
A content-focused digital
marketer with experience
managing social media for
international fintech startups.
2What did you achieve at work
or university? Use numbers,
stats & cold facts only.
For XYZ.com, increased sales
by 22% via FB in 3
months. Graduated from ABC Uni
with a 3.58/4 GPA.
3What exciting & valuable skills
can you offer a company?
Offers a multi-faceted skillset
in design, copywriting & social
performance.
4What are you looking for,
if anything, when & where?
How to get in touch?
Open for full-time Jr. exec
positions in Singapore from Aug.
Mail me: xyz@gmail.com.

Remember, your job application is not simply about what you can do, it’s about what you can do that a company really needs. So you should focus on selling yourself as the solution to common problems. Ask yourself, “What difference can I make here?


4. No engagement

Recruiters check your previous activity so make sure you are having productive and positive conversations with other users. A profile with little to no activity might come off as dead or fishy.

When you’re commenting on posts, or sharing links/thoughts, try to avoid:

❌ Bitching about your company, boss, or colleagues

❌ Being rude, offensive, or controversial

❌ Sharing personal updates which might not be appropriate here

❌ Plagiarizing someone else’s work (always give credits)

Instead, try to follow these community guidelines:

✔ Show appreciation for others’ achievements

✔ Provide actionable & constructive feedback

✔ Support local artists & entrepreneurs by sharing their posts

✔ Acknowledge those who supported you in a project / milestone


5. No recommends

Would you go see a movie which nobody has seen or reviewed? The chances are very low. Just as we prefer to check for public approval before buying the ticket, recruiters like to see testimonials from colleagues who can back you up.

So get 3 folks to root for you by endorsing skills and writing a quick recommendation. They can be your seniors, clients, or even classmates.

Remember, there’s no need to feel shy or ashamed when you’re asking for well-deserved appreciation. That being said, it’s helpful to give your referees a guideline on what to write.

Here’s a standard format of 4 paragraphs:

Sr.FocusExample
1Details of relationshipI managed Rohan when he
joined XYZ as a social media
intern in Dec 2018 for 3 mos.
2Core strengths & qualitiesRight from the beginning,
he showed a very organized
& systematic approach to
creating content for our brand.
3Specific achievements & projectsBecause of him, we developed
a monthly content calendar
that has made the process easy
& fast for all teams involved.
4Statement of confidenceI’m sure that he’ll be a valuable
strategic thinker & asset to
any company he joins. Thus,
I recommend him strongly.


6. Generic DP & Cover

Since LinkedIn is a professional platform, your display picture must have an appropriate vibe. Headshots in formal attire are best but if you don’t have one on file, just ensure your face is clearly visible without unnecessary distractions.

Conversely, try to stay away from:

❌ Travel photos with glares and hats

❌ Poorly scanned passport copies

❌ Group pictures (avoid this on Tinder also because I don’t want to guess)

❌ Selfies

Another image most rookies overlook is the cover banner. The generic blue one shows lack of effort and detail.

So get an HD banner that suits your industry and theme. Here are some cool websites to source a ready-made photo:

Or if you’re into icon-based graphics, you could just make a custom “1584 x 396 px” banner in Canva.


7. No Files

Having your official documents next to the relevant section makes the recruiter’s task much easier because they no longer have to chase you around. This will ultimately speed up your chances of getting called in for the interview.

So try to upload these files wherever possible:

Sr.FilesWhere?
1CV
Portfolio
Featured (below summary)
2Recommendation Letter
Work samples
Below the relevant experience
3MarksheetBelow the relevant education
4CertificateDrive it & share link in certs section


In summary, here are some pointers for making sure your personal brand on LinkedIn is in top shape:

  1. Have a custom URL
  2. Fill your tagline with keywords
  3. Make your “About” relevant to recruiters
  4. Engage in productive & positive conversations
  5. Get 3-5 endorsements & recommendations
  6. Have a professional DP & a unique cover image
  7. Upload relevant files to make the recruiter’s job easier

That ends today’s walk-through on polishing up LinkedIn profiles. Is there anything I missed? If you have more cool tips that might help others grow their digital presence, do share your thoughts in the comments! 👇

Thank you so much for reading, and I wish you all the best!