Which would you choose—a fresh, hot loaf of bread or a day-old stale one? Would you select a slightly moldy, dried-up piece of fruit or a fresh and shiny one?
The answers are obvious—you would select the fresh, high-quality food. The same applies during the hiring process, whether you’re a freelancer or looking for a job. Your clients or employers will be attracted to a professional profile that is active and vibrant.
First, we’ll talk about new things you can add to your profile, and when you should do so. We’ll also discuss items that you should consider deleting. In this way, your profile will remain up-to-date and ready to paint you in the best possible light.
Add Something New
Adding items to your profile shows you are not stagnant. When should you update your profile? It is good to get in the habit of doing so whenever you have something to add. For example, if you are using LinkedIn to host your profile, you can add links to articles or blog posts whenever they drop. The same is true if you receive an award, attend a conference, speak at an event, get a certificate, or something else—post it as soon as possible so your profile is active and you don’t forget.
You should also give your profile a thorough look-through at least once a year. Make sure your contact information is still up-to-date, that essential links still function, and that you haven’t forgotten to list any major changes to your experience, education, or qualifications.
Now that you know when to update your profile, let’s consider a few of the hottest items you can add.
A Clear Objective
An objective or summary for your resume can go a long way towards motivating someone to hire you. It’s the first thing a viewer will read, and if it’s a good one, it will entice them to look at your profile in more detail.
Keep it short and sweet—three to four sentences. Highlight the necessary skills that you have, how you can provide value to the company, or how you have the needed experience to jump right in.
Objectives aren’t just for resumes, either. You can use the “Headline” option on LinkedIn or include it in the header of your personal website.
Continuous education is more vital than ever. For example, if you work in the field of computer science but your profile doesn’t indicate that you’ve learned anything new since 1995, you’re not likely to impress anyone. The good news is, that it’s easy to take a class, get certified, or attend a workshop, conference, or seminar—whether it’s in person or online. Then, add it to your profile.
There are also a number of crucial office skills you might want to jump into no matter your field of expertise. These include data management, computer literacy, good organization, time management, attention to detail, strategic planning, multitasking, and critical thinking. Today, you’ll be able to find classes or certifications in even these soft skills. Both soft and technical skills are highly transferable and valuable in virtually any role.
Out With the Old
Now that we’ve considered things you should add to your professional profile, are there things you should omit? Yes, there are. They fall into a few categories.
Does your profile contain any of the following?
• Your full address
• A snarky email address
• Jobs from 10+ years ago
• Graduation dates
• High school information
According to The Washington Post, you can remove these items from your professional profile. Why?
Your employer isn’t going to mail you anything; you’ll receive communications via email or phone. Listing your full address online could even jeopardize your personal privacy. You can leave your city of residence, but delete the street address.
Your email address should be a professional one with your name or initials. Don’t use the cutesy one you created in high school.
Graduation dates and work experience older than 10 to 15 years should be removed, too. Unfortunately, career longevity could lead to age-related bias. The important thing is that you got a degree, not when you got it. And relevant experience is likely better reflected in your more recent jobs.
Similarly, don’t include your high school graduation dates. Mentioning your high school diploma is rendered entirely unnecessary by your later degrees; it is simply assumed that you completed high school.
Irrelevant or Polarizing Content
Irrelevant content, such as unrelated hobbies, could distract from your actual qualifications. Mentions of hot-button political or social issues could also alienate you from your hiring manager.
The Harris Poll reports that “71% of hiring decision-makers agree social media is effective for screening applicants.” Therefore, you should also audit your social media accounts for photos, comments, and likes that could paint you in a negative light.
Keeping your professional profile fresh is important if you’re seeking new clients, a new job, or a promotion. Out with the old, in with the new is the name of the game—get rid of outdated information, keep the content up to date, and engage in continuous learning so you will always have something new to add.