Women are Shooting Themselves in the Foot on LinkedIn

I’m dumbfounded. We have no one to blame but ourselves. LinkedIn released new analysis of gender gaps in the workforce including how well men and women use their LinkedIn Profiles to their own benefit. This analysis is based on the past year, and when added to the findings of their 2011-2016 Economic Graph study, it tells us that women definitely have work to do.

It is now a fact that your LinkedIn Profile IS your professional, digital representation to the world. When people Google any name, the first results are public LinkedIn Profiles. By default, every LinkedIn Profile is public UNLESS you change the setting to make it private. So, if it’s half complete and you haven’t given it any love, it’s likely visible and that’s the first impression that many people have of you.

It’s probably not much of a surprise, but men hype themselves and their accomplishments more than women. In fact, they tend to remove their early positions to emphasize senior positions with greater authority and accomplishment. It’s as if, they jumped right to the top. It’s debatable among LinkedIn experts if this is a good strategy, but it definitely emphasizes the positive.

Let’s look at some of the sad findings.

In the 2011-2016 Economic Graph project, they analyzed the differences in Profiles between men and women who received MBAs from the top 10 business schools. They found that female graduates, while having comparable numbers of skills and awards listed on their Profile, did not tend to complete the Summary or job descriptions. These sections tell your story! These sections make people notice and remember you. Even the brightest female minds in the business world are not taking the opportunity to shine and share information that could propel their career.

The most recent analysis looked at all women in the U.S. They found that women had shorter Profile Summaries and listed 11% fewer skills. As stated earlier, the Summary is what tells your story; it differentiates you from your competition. LinkedIn has also found that Profiles with five or more skills are viewed 17 times more than Profiles with fewer. So, increasing the number of skills listed on your Profile is important.

Before you jump in, take a step back to strategize.

If you want your LinkedIn Profile to be successful (help you attract that job, new client, or next step up the ladder), you it must speak to your target audience. You should not look at your LinkedIn Profile purely as an historical document. Yes, those you want to pick you care that you have the past credentials, but they also want to know how you can help them now and in the future. In fact, your LinkedIn Profile should be almost as much about them, as it is about you.

There are three types of LinkedIn Profiles – Jobseeker, Career Development, and Sales & Business Development.

The Jobseeker Profile is an enhancement and extension of your resume. It should be consistent with you resume (differences could raise flags), but should provide greater dimension and highlight special projects, accomplishments, and work samples. In addition to all of the facts and accomplishments related to your career, it should lay the case for why you are the best candidate for the type of job you want now. Your Profile Summary should be more like a Cover Letter.

The Career Development Profile is similar to the Jobseeker, but the Summary should focus on where you see your career going. You’re not looking, but you’re laying the groundwork for the next step up so that opportunities can find you. What do you want to do in the future? What are you learning now or skills you’re improving that will help you take that next step? Many recruiters are looking for employed people to fill their positions. If you’re ready to move up, make it easier for them to identify you.

The Sales & Business Development Profile is very different from the other two. Potential clients don’t care about your employee skills, they care about themselves – and explicit details about your sales skills, could even make them feel like prey. Your Summary should be more akin to an Elevator Pitch. It should tell people what products/services you provide, who you provide them for, and what makes you better and different than others offering the same. It should be very clear that if you offer what they need, that you’re the solution for which them.

Take Action

We have to reverse this trend. Your LinkedIn Profile is not the place to be humble. If you’re uncomfortable strutting your stuff, then your LinkedIn Profile is the best place to get comfortable – you’re not looking people in the eyes when they read it. It can also serve as a regular reminder of just how great you are when you need a boost of confidence. Pull out all of that things you’ve done that you didn’t think were a big deal and when you put them all together on your LinkedIn Profile, you’ll see it’s a pretty big deal.

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