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Dos and Don'ts for Your LinkedIn Profile

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on April 16, 2015 9:57 AM

By now, you've figured out how you're supposed to use LinkedIn, but there are so many options these days (test scores? Really?), it's hard to know what to put on your profile. And who keeps "endorsing" you for things, anyway?

In order to keep your profile tidy, ethical, and professional, we've got some tips on what to do (and not do) on LinkedIn.

Where's Your Photo?

The default blue silhouette says, "I signed up for LinkedIn a long time ago and haven't done anything about it." Having a photo shows that you're at least a little serious about using LinkedIn as a networking vehicle.

It also makes you more personable and lets people see what you look like. Yes, people will judge you based on your photo, hopefully not in illegal or immoral ways, but to gauge whether you're a professional. A recycled Facebook photo of you on Spring Break six years ago isn't going to impress anyone, especially not potential employers. Stick to something plain, like your firm's headshot or a semi-professional picture of you in business attire (no selfies!).

Stay Active

LinkedIn's little secret is that, like FarmVille, it rewards you for coming back. LinkedIn notifies your network -- and others -- when you update your profile, and these updates shoot to the top of others' news feeds. Keep yourself on other people's radars by making changes, even if all you do is post news or blog items on your profile. Oh, and by the way, keep your profile current! Whenever you get a promotion, update your profile to reflect it.

Part of This Complete Profile

Don't leave whole sections of your profile blank. Fill in everything -- education, experiences, awards, everything. LinkedIn is supposed to be a one-stop shop for getting to know you professionally, so if there's a major project you were involved in, put that in your profile. Anything you wrote (like your law review note) that's accessible from the Web should be listed and linked.

Use discretion, though. LinkedIn sometimes gets a little "Fatal Attraction," demanding to know what classes you took and what grades you got. If it's something an employer wouldn't care about, then you can leave it blank.

The 'Objective' Is Back

That's right, says Forbes: "Once upon a time, people were encouraged to write about their careers in an 'objective' summary on a resume. That has gone out of fashion ... but not on LinkedIn."

The "summary" section is your opportunity to write a (short!) essay about who you are and what you want out of your next job. This is where you get to give people an idea of who you are, so use this space wisely. Be upbeat! Be informative! Don't act like a salesperson; this isn't "Glengarry Glenn Ross."

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