Don’t Crowdsource Your LinkedIn Profile

Pretty much everyone understands that using LinkedIn is an essential part of an effective job search. It’s a way to find people, and it’s a way for people to find you. It’s widely used by recruiters, employers and just about everyone else who might want to know who you are professionally.

It is also the central piece of your Internet identity, the number one way that everyone finds out who you are — as a professional, a prospective employee or a future colleague.

Whether you’re job hunting right now or not, your profile should create an accurate picture of why you’re a great candidate for whatever you want your next job to be. So it’s important to make the right choices on what to include, what to emphasize and what to omit.

LinkedIn recommendations are a great feature because they allow readers to see what other people say about you. They accomplish what “letters of reference” did back in the old days. They do that “reference” job even better than letters did it, because they’re easily available to everyone and much harder for dishonest job hunters to fake.

Naturally, you’ll post only those recommendations that speak well of you. But it’s also important to make sure that they include the most relevant information. If you’re interested in a job as a second-grade teacher, effusive praise for your skill in trigonometry will probably do more harm than good.

Your recommendations need to stress skills and accomplishments that are central to success in your next job. And it’s perfectly okay to help people help you by saying something like, “I wonder if you would be comfortable talking about my successes in financial management and how they affected our bottom line?”

The endorsement section needs even more management. If you have hundreds of contacts and publish all the endorsements that come in, you’ll have two problems. First, you might have as many as 50 “skills” listed, more than any reader will ever remember. Second, the most relevant skills might be buried somewhere in that long list. Or worse, the top of the list, the part most readers notice, might include only irrelevant skills and actually cause you harm.

So edit your endorsements to be sure they’re a strong, memorable message that’s relevant to where you want to go next. If that’s hard to do, place them lower in the profile. If that’s impossible, don’t use that section at all.

Don’t let the “crowd” decide what you post. It’s great to have people helping you, but you’ve got to control the process and shape your profile so it will help you get a great next job — the one you really want.