The Fatal LinkedIn Mistake 90% Of Job-Seekers Make

Published by Liz Ryan, Forbes May 7, 2017

The Fatal LinkedIn Mistake 90% Of Job-Seekers Make


Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


The fatal LinkedIn branding mistake almost every job-seeker makes is to hedge their bets.

They brand themselves too broadly. The result is that the job-seeker’s description is so vague or task-oriented that we cannot tell what they want to do or what they’re especially good at.

They try to cover too much ground!

Listing all the things you know how to do only makes you sound desperate for any kind of job at all.



Your personal brand cannot be desperate, or your brand will not help you. It will hurt you, in fact.

What hiring manager would have confidence in your ability to walk into their department and make a difference when your branding says you aren’t sure what you do professionally?

When your LinkedIn profile says “Multi-skilled Business Professional” you have already eliminated most of your potential audience.


They’re not looking for a Multi-Skilled Business Professional.

Who in history ever was?

Hiring managers have pain in specific areas.

When you have pain in your body, it’s specific, too. Nobody says “I have pain!”

They have a back ache, a tooth ache or a pain in their knee. You can’t brand yourself to appeal to everybody — that’s not how branding works!

Good personal branding is more specific than any of these overly general self-descriptors:

Diverse background in aerospace, consumer products and legal services (who cares what you did already, unless you want to do it again? Tell us what you intend to do, and why you’re qualified for it!)
Skilled at Marketing, Sales, Operations and Customer Support (what does this even mean? No one who has dug into any of these functions in depth would continue to describe themselves as skilled at all four!)
Trainer/Instructor/Instructional Designer/Training Specialist (tell us what you are dying to do most of all. Commit! The world will reward your belief in yourself)
Open to Any HR VP, Director, Manager or Coordinator Position (you cannot call yourself an executive but also mention that you’re open to junior-level positions. Nobody looks at the same candidates for high-level and lower-level jobs. Decide what you’re best at and use Indeed to learn where the job openings are, and brand yourself right there!)
What’s a better branding approach? Choose the sweet spot at the place where your experience, your talents and employers’ pain intersect.

You’ll find that sweet spot by thinking about and writing down your favorite activities and favorite past roles, as well as things you love to do and are good at outside of work. Then, you’ll check out job ads to learn which positions companies are looking for.

Many people are confused about their career direction. That’s okay. You can leave your overly-broad branding on LinkedIn until you figure out what you want to be when you grow up — at least for this job search!

Read LinkedIn profiles to spot job titles, job descriptions and specific responsibilities that sound like a fit for you. Now, brand yourself for the jobs you really want — not every job you’re qualified for:

Freelance Travel Writer and Editor
Sales Manager for Pharma/Neutraceuticals
Office Manager/Bookkeeper Seeking Overbooked CEO to Support
Startup Marketing Manager with Press Contacts
Your LinkedIn branding is important because it tells the world how you see yourself.

Everyone else will see you the same way the minute you stand in your power and tell us “Here I am!”

Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.

Marketing Calendar 2017

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