After writing, editing and evaluating hundreds of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, I want to share the biggest profile mistakes I see much too frequently from veterans, contractors and people with military backgrounds.
If you want to know more about using LinkedIn, I created a free course of 25 video lessons to help. No email address is needed to access, just watch what interests you.
1. Assuming the Profile Reader Knows the Military
Remember that you’re trying to connect with two different groups of people:
- Recruiters / human resources staff
- People you network with based on similar education, work experience and perhaps military background.
The problem is that many people in the defense world assume that others will understand what they’re talking about:
- military jargon and acronyms
- military jobs, duties and responsibilities
- what’s taught in military schools and courses
- why certain medal and ribbons were awarded
- Assume anyone who reads your profile will not know these points.
- Spell it out like you’re talking to a civilian employer with no military understanding.
- One tool you can use is a Military Skills Translator which takes your military background and offers suggestions for civilian equivalents.
2. Using a non-US LinkedIn Address
If you signup for LinkedIn while overseas, you could end up with an address from another country. This means a recruiter may think you’re not available for a position.
Here’s what LinkedIn Help says about it:
Members who live in the US and many other countries have a public profile URL that begins with “www”.
Members who live in certain countries have a public profile URL that begins with a 2-letter code based on the country listed on their profile.
For example, if you set it up while in Afghanistan, your public profile URL could be “http://af.linkedin.com/in/linkedinyourname”. (note: they actually used Canada as their example.)
- According to LI Help, if you change the country listed on your profile, your public profile URL automatically changes. The old URLs will still work.
- Under Privacy and Settings (found under your picture on the top right once signed in, you’ll see this link: Edit your name, location & industry
- Also don’t forget that you can customize your LinkedIn address, for example, mine is https://www.linkedin.com/in/dangerzonejobs
- You can learn how to create your custom address here.
3. Rethink Your Picture: Mistaking LinkedIn for Facebook
I’ve seen countless examples of people using pictures of themselves wearing military gear and sunglasses (or worse). Remember this site is business-oriented and standards should be high.
Here are two ideas to help you get your picture right:
- Think Passport: Head and shoulders in front of a light background for contrast, looking professional.
- Think Interview: Imagine that your photo was taken on the day you went to a job interview. How would you look?
4. No Connections With Recruiters
This is critical because if you’re not connected to recruiters or connected to someone who is, your profile will not come up in their search results.
LinkedIn makes it easy for you to trying connecting with recruiters from the actual companies that interest you.
- Go to the search box above and enter Recruiter + The Company Name You’re Interested In.
- Be sure to read this article on how to network effectively.
5. Not Following Companies You Apply To
Depending who you ask, 90+% of recruiters use LinkedIn to check you out when you apply through their job applicant system.
What many people don’t realize is that they also look to see if you follow their company.
As one recruiter told me this is one of the few ways he can see if someone applying for a job has taken the time to learn about his company.
All the recruiter needs to do is scroll to the bottom of your profile and look.
- Before you apply to any jobs, whether on LinkedIn or off, make sure you add them as a company you follow.
- You can find out how to follow a company here.
Writing Your Own Profile is Easy to Get Wrong
Presenting yourself effectively on LinkedIn can be very difficult. There are many things you have to get right, which is why I also see these common problems:
- Unable to think objectively about what should be included in order to tell your professional story. The goal of the “story” is to show you as someone a company should consider hiring. What you think makes you look good may not be what a recruiter wants to see.
- Not being strong enough with grammar, spelling and proofreading to make sure there are zero mistakes.
- Not knowing how to research and then properly use the right keywords so you show up near the top of LinkedIn searches.
- Have someone take a look at your profile for you.
- I ‘d be happy to evaluate your profile for you: Click here to have me look at your profile.
- If you have questions about writing your LinkedIn profile, please feel free to ask.