The Most Common Mistakes You’re Making on Your Career Profiles

We’re excited to be teaming up with Hired to bring you career insights about diversity, inclusion, and the job market.

As a Supply Strategist at Hired, I make sure that our job marketplace of tech talent and innovative companies is calibrated for success. I accomplish this by analyzing what makes a candidate thrive in the current hiring market. Drawing from my experience, I’m sharing three of the most common mistakes job seekers make on their online career profiles. These online resources can include a résumé, Hired or LinkedIn profile, Behance, Dribbble, GitHub, personal website, online portfolio, or social media.

The devil’s in the details: don’t skip out on presentation basics

Although we’ve known since grade school that using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation is important, they’re still commonly overlooked. As a way to review your work, tools such as spell check and Grammarly are great resources. Another alternative to help with proofreading is a trusted friend. They can provide that “sanity check” your content might need, ensuring that you’re using the right there/their/they’re and if that clause is really necessary.

As a best practice, when you’re describing your career path to potential employers, it’s best to use the first person (“I” statements) rather than the third person (“Samantha,” “she”). Like in real life conversations, using the third person in writing when referring to yourself is a little odd and can distance you from the reader, which, in this case, is the employer. Instead of discussing how Samantha pivoted from public relations to user experience design, use an “I” statement: “After working in public relations for years, I became interested in user experience design and decided to pursue a career in the tech industry.” These slight edits to your wording do impact the impression that you’re leaving on employers on the receiving end.

When you’re thinking about how much detail to include or whether a work experience is relevant, keep your experience level top of mind. If you’re a new grad, it’s acceptable to reference projects from your undergraduate or graduate studies. If you’ve been out of school for more than a few years, refrain from mentioning school projects and even work experiences from decades ago. Although companies want to understand the work you’ve done, reaching far into your past won’t be as valuable for how they evaluate you for a role in the present.

Nothing is worse than inconsistency: keep your profiles accurate and updated

If you’re providing a variety of resources to employers, like a LinkedIn and a résumé, make sure that you’re keeping them updated and accurate. Employers cross-reference various pieces of information provided by candidates as well as what they can find online. It is important to keep these profiles as accurate and up-to-date as possible to avoid inconsistencies and skepticism.

For example, double-check that the dates and details about your education and work experience are consistent across your online profiles. Did you just graduate with a Masters in Computer Science or are you still working towards your degree? If your LinkedIn says that you’re graduating in May 2018 but your résumé says that you’re graduating in December 2018, employers aren’t going to know which is true. Both resources should reflect your actual graduation date or your expected graduation date if you’re still in school.

Have you learned any new coding languages or skills since you started your latest role? Are you familiar with Ruby, Go, node.js, Scala, or InDesign? Let employers know by adding these to the skills section of your online job profiles and résumé.

Is your most recent work experience included? Have you really been an intern at Microsoft for the past five years? After completing an internship program, make sure to add an end date so employers know you’re no longer an intern. Be sure to add your current job to the work experience sections on your job profiles as well.

Upgrade your profile picture

You don’t need to have a photo of yourself associated with your online career profiles. Whether a company wants to hire you should be based on your skills and experiences and how you’ll be an asset to their organization. With that said, if you plan to add a profile image, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. Don’t worry: you don’t need to book an appointment to get your headshots taken. Instead follow these basic guidelines:

  1. Don’t use a selfie. Try to get a friend to take your photo with a smartphone or a digital camera.
  2. Dress professionally. Wear clothes that correspond with the job you’re aspiring to have. While it’s acceptable for software engineers to wear a hoodie and shorts at their startup, try to look more professional in your profile photo. You don’t need to wear business formal clothes if that’s uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t look sloppy either.
  3. Be aware of lighting. Lighting is everything in photography and ambient (available) light is usually ideal. Take your photo outside, preferably when the light is softer at the beginning or end of the day.
  4. Be conscious of the background. The background shouldn’t be distracting so try to find one that is nondescript for your photo.

Wrapping up

As you’ve heard before, searching for a job can be a full-time job in itself. In our ever competitive job market, it’s important to make sure you’re not making simple mistakes that will prevent you from moving on in the application process. With these profile polishing tips, you’ll paint a better picture of what employers can expect from you and you’ll be that much closer to getting your dream job.

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