LinkedIn Mistakes People Make |

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Whether you are an executive or a member of staff, too many of you make these mistakes. My guest, Carol Kaemmerer, is the author of LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive She and I share our experiences of mistakes people make too often.

Personal Branding on LinkedIn

Jeff Altman  [00:04]

My guest today is Carol Kaemmerer. Carol was named one of the six top personal branding experts in 2020 achieved by the American Reporter. The second edition of her book, LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive–see LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive, received Book Authorities best LinkedIn books of all time award . . . of all time, people, and has been chosen by the C suite network as one of the top 100 best business books. In addition to her one on one executive branding work with C suite leaders, Carol is a popular speaker, a member of the National Speakers Association. Carol, welcome. Thanks for making time today.


Carol Kaemmerer  [00:46]

I’m so delighted to be with you, Jeff.


Jeff Altman  [00:48]

And folks, we’re gonna be talking about, dare I say, could you guess, LinkedIn. I’m going to bring that back a little bit here or here, here. Yeah, that’s better. Even better. We’re gonna be talking about LinkedIn. The book is about for savvy executives. We’re going to widen that a little bit to make sure we’re covering mistakes for all of you. And maybe I could just start by asking, tell me about some of the egregious mistakes people make on LinkedIn that you’ve identified.


Carol Kaemmerer  [01:20]

Okay, I think the most important mistake is that they don’t take it seriously. They write LinkedIn profiles, like they write a fill in the blank test. But it’s really an essay test. And in order to bring our best we have to plan and be intentional about what we want to say about ourselves so that we can be memorable. I know that every LinkedIn profile that’s really memorable starts from right here in your heart center. And another word for that is your personal brand. So I’ve developed three signature questions that I use every time with my clients to help identify their brand. And I wanted to share them with your audience today, because I know the people that are listening, really, really need to make an impression in order to shine while they’re looking for their next position.


Jeff Altman  [02:21]

Excellent. Thank you. So what’s the first question they have to ask themselves?


Carol Kaemmerer  [02:26]

First question is, what are the three things you want to be known for? Now, it’s really important that we select no more than three because three is automatically memorable. That’s why preachers and teachers and authors and orders have used the formulation of three forever because it makes things stick in our heads. What if we want to communicate more things, you’ve probably seen those headlines with six different things in the headline. Instead of looking, flexible, and infinitely eligible for your next job, you look unfocused. And when we’re unfocused, we’re not anybody’s best solution.


Jeff Altman  [03:12]

It’s interesting. Human nature, with the exception of people who post things about listicles, you know, those 10 ways that you can have great breath. Sorry, I couldn’t resist something ridiculous like that. But unless you someone’s doing a listicle,  three, is it really about it. Like if you even think about memorizing numbers, like we’re really tapped out at this point with a number of numbers we can repeat. So three things that you want to be known for is the first question.


Carol Kaemmerer  [03:51]

And my second question is, what are your differentiators? What are your superpowers? You know, a lot of people have the same job title, but each person brings their own personality and experiences and ways that they think and I’d like to recommend that if your audience does not know what their differentiator is, they should do a little 360 review. Just short. What is it that you come to me for? You know, what is it that you count on me for? What is it that I contribute in a different way than someone else?


Jeff Altman  [04:37]

Does that idea of what you’re counted on for and they come to you for? It’s great stuff. Because for most people, they just think about doing the job. I’ve got a job, I do what they tell me to do. Even with the senior leaders, they’ve got a plan for the year or the next few years. They’ve broken it down to different parts of the project plan. And then there’s all the other stuff that’s in their job, too. It’s almost more important for this than anything.


Carol Kaemmerer  [05:09]

Absolutely, you know, our specific skills can be learned. But the way that we approach things is uniquely ours. And so some of those differentiators may be even how you think, how you connect dots differently than other people. So the third question is, what are your keywords. And this is important, because LinkedIn is a search engine. And what it eats for breakfast is keywords. So we want to make sure that the words that are really the words that you would search for someone just like us, that those words appear on our profile over and over and over, not in a mechanistic way. But when we write, we will write using those keywords because they describe who we are and what we do. So those are my magic, three questions that always helped me to center a LinkedIn profile. So that it is memorable, I use the building blocks that I get from that in the headline in the about section, and especially in the skills section. So if people would start by thinking, really being intentional about what they want people to remember about them. And they use this formulation to help them with that. I know that they will have a more memorable profile.


Jeff Altman  [06:52]

So it sounds like in addition to not taking LinkedIn seriously, they approach their profile in a chaotic kind of way that doesn’t really promote themselves and their individuality in a way that makes themselves attractive to people. And I say attractive, not because you’re supposed to be good looking, although that’s always an advantage in photographs. But from the sense of attracting people to you.

Personal Branding: What Are Your Strengths

Carol Kaemmerer  [07:22]



Jeff Altman  [07:23]

Because you want to have them discover you as well. Right?


Carol Kaemmerer  [07:27]



Jeff Altman  [07:28]

Good. What other mistakes do people make?


Carol Kaemmerer  [07:34]

One that has absolutely nothing to do with words, is their photo. Now the worst mistake of all is to have no photo of yourself on your profile. It’s like having your house on the market and having an open house notice in the paper with no picture. Automatically, we think ‘what is wrong with this house that they won’t show a picture?’ And that’s what we think when we see no picture at all. But the other thing is you can have a picture and a really bad one. You can have your spouse’s hand on the shoulder.


Jeff Altman  [08:18]

I was actually thinking of the old shoulder pads photos,


Carol Kaemmerer  [08:21]

Oh, absolutely. You can be obviously attending someone else’s wedding. And you know, you’ve you’re cropping out people and it’s not even a correct headshot. So it should be a headshot. It should be done by a professional photographer whose specialty is headshots. It’s really important to be your best because once you have been found, you are found with 10 other people in a column and their pictures and their job titles or their their headlines. And really, every person will pick the person with the most genuine smile with the most light in their eyes. The person that has the most animated, natural face. I mean, I’m not I’m not talking clown. I’m talking, you know, does this person look like they came for business? Are they looking at you? Are they smiling? Do they look like they’re ready for your job?


Jeff Altman  [09:27]

I’m just going to sneak in one thing here, because you mentioned it in passing. Someone told me that they had spoken to someone in LinkedIn and they want a photo where you’re looking at the camera. Not that you’re looking to his side, because that’s not going to work for them. They disadvantage responses of photographs of people with photos where they’re not making eye contact. So just be aware that if you’re not looking directly at someone, not good. Now, going  past that, as you say, the friendly look, the one where you’ve got the congenial smile on your face. I know, we had a technical issue when we first started recording this. And when I asked Carol to reschedule, she went to my scheduling pages, she wrote back to me saying, you’ve got her such a warm, engaging photo there, which I happen to also use on LinkedIn. And it does make a difference in how people see you. So recognize if you’ve got the scowl on your face, as some people do, and that’s men and women. By the way, the scowl does not work, the annoy look doesn’t work. There’s a lot of non friendly looks that hurt you, because who wants to reach out to someone who’s got a puss on like that?


Carol Kaemmerer  [10:51]

That’s so and and what you put on matters? You know, it’s not that everyone needs to look like they are going to have a board meeting and they’re all in their ties. If that’s not the kind of job that you have, you don’t need to look like that. But you do need to look ready for your work.


Jeff Altman  [11:16]

And I’ll also mentioned that, that the banner behind you, behind your profile picture can be you in action in some way. So the person who’s speaking to a group or is presenting in a situation like photo it’s done well. But in your headshot, no, doesn’t work. So reserve that for the banner photo, and use that to demonstrate, particularly for those of you who are senior leaders demonstrate your authority. It looks like you’re about to say something I’m sorry.


Carol Kaemmerer  [12:00]

Well, are you looking for other things. . . there are things people do wrong. Here’s number three, they have too little text to rank well on a keyword search. So, this is, especially for the people who have no about section, or whose about section is this big? Or who have no accomplishments or any text under each of those positions that they’ve held over the years. Those people who think, ‘well, you know, this is safe. All I have to do is put in what my title is, and that’ll stand for what I did. Well, no, you have to write to the margins almost in order to be found on a keyword search. And that is, each section in LinkedIn has a specific character count or number associated with it. The headline is 220 characters. So whereas most people’s headline is auto filled by LinkedIn, and it’s just their job title and their company, we can go beyond that, and add what value we bring, what effect we have, or how we achieved our success. Whatever it is, we want to add value to that. And we want to do it without using 1000 pipes or slashes, and listing six things that’s not it. We want to share with people how we add value in that section. And then the about section, it’s 2600 characters. That’s five paragraphs. So if you’re writing two sentences, you’re missing the boat. Because the LinkedIn algorithm, one of the drivers of that is the number of times the keyword that the person is searching for, appears on your profile.


Jeff Altman  [14:11]

But I’m not looking for a job! Why should I put all that stuff in there if I’m not looking for a job?


Carol Kaemmerer  [14:18]

If you’re not looking for a job, you are always open to great opportunities for new clients, new customers, new projects, the possibility to serve on a board. It doesn’t have to be that you’re looking for a new job in order for you to benefit from being intentional and writing to the markets.

Why Do People Post Articles on Their LinkedIn Accounts?

Jeff Altman  [14:43]

Some I know I’ve said many years ago, the person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest, they don’t always work the hardest, although those are great qualities to possess. People get ahead by being alert opportunity. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, they’re internal to their organization. Most of the time there were external. So if you’re hiding yourself by not providing data there that LinkedIn can come up in search, you’re invisible, that’s not the point of LinkedIn. You want to be found. And with 800 million people on the platform at this point, you know,


Carol Kaemmerer  [15:22]

It’s a high bar,


Jeff Altman  [15:23]

Right.  It’s a very high bar. And if you’re hiding yourself, or your firm is demanding that you hide yourself, it’s a problem for you. Because you know, you’re not going to be there for the next 20 years of your life.


Carol Kaemmerer  [15:39]

Probably not. And, you know, it used to be. Many, many, many years ago, that people would work for one company for their career. And that is just not the reality. These days, companies are not willing to carry someone forever. Things come and go. And people change positions, for all kinds of reasons, some of them are under their control, and some of them very much not under their control. But to be prepared always is a great idea.


Jeff Altman  [16:16]

Great. Folks, you may think you have a permanent position.  You don’t. You have a full time position, where there’s an expectation of a certain number of hours. And, you know, as Lord knows, so many of you discovered in one recession or another, your permanent position wasn’t so permanent was it? So put yourself in the position to be discovered and opportunity to land in your lap. Rather than lurching from one job search to another and lurching from one search to another, and not doing anything to build up your network, not doing anything to really promote yourself, do the things so you’re discovered. What else do people do wrong? Tell me more!


Carol Kaemmerer  [17:01]

Well, they might have only a few skills. LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to list 50 skills. And it’s a wonderful exercise that I use with with my clients, we look at what skills are actually on that inventory. And they are so surprised to see that they have skills that they haven’t used in 20 years, that’s something that they delegated down several years ago. They have old skills, skills that no longer apply in the world of work, unless you are an entry level employee. Really? Having Microsoft Word as a skill? Honestly, you know, that’s, that’s a given that we know how to use these tools. So it’s important to make sure that the skills that are listed are listed at the level that you do them. For instance, our National Sales Director. Having sales on his or her profile. It doesn’t have the punch that you know, leading sales teams has. It’s at the level that the guy who comes with the pizza coupons to your door, that sales. And so it doesn’t describe what the National Sales Director is doing. And so make sure that the skills that are listed are listed at your level. They’ve changed the skills in two ways. Now, the top three skills that are listed are flags. They have an extra weight in the algorithm we think, and they should communicate to the people that are looking, what are the top three things you do? What does it sound like? That sounds like the three things you want to be known for. So make sure that those things align. When we align our message, we win. We are memorable. So make sure that you’re . . .  Oh, I was saying that the skills had changed in two ways. One of them is that that the three things were important, okay. The other is that the skills are much deeper than they used to be. Years and years ago,  who had picked leadership? You know, check. Now, there are 15 flavors of leadership that you can select, and each one of them has more than one key word embedded like clinical leadership, technical leadership, cross functional team leadership. So when you buy, you know, just by selecting  a skill that has multiple key words in it, you get a bargain. You get cross functional, and team and leadership. Pow, pow, pow. That’s, you know, a bargain. And so when I am maximizing somebody’s ability to be found, we work a lot on this skill section.


Jeff Altman  [20:25]

You know, folks, if you haven’t heard me say this, I was among the first 10,000 people on LinkedIn. So, I remember when functions get rolled out. And I used to do recruiting. Did it for many years, and I would see people endorse me for system development lifecycle. I would go, “What the . . . ” I’ve buried that. Initially, I buried it, and now it’s gone altogether. Think in terms of purging some of these things that have no relevance whatsoever for what you want to be known for? What you’ve accomplished during the last few years, like stuff that you did when you were 22? Who cares about it unless you’re 23?


Carol Kaemmerer  [21:06]

You could be the best Fortran programmer ever.


Jeff Altman  [21:09]



Carol Kaemmerer  [21:12]

Wouldn’t do you any goodnow.  So you know, that the notion that we learn new skills, that makes a difference. But the notion that you had a skill that is obsolete in the marketplace? You know, 40 years ago, it’s not working for you.

The Top 10 Mistakes Professionals Make on LinkedIn

Jeff Altman  [21:31]

I won’t decipher Fortran for those of you who don’t know what it is. It’s not important. Yes, it was a programming language back in the Stone Ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth and was used in scientific . . .


Carol Kaemmerer  [21:44]

When Jeff and I were young.


Jeff Altman  [21:46]

I was never young, I’ve stopped being young a long time ago. But we digress. What other things do people do wrong? Whether they’re is a leader or as a staff person with their LinkedIn profiles, or beyond?


Carol Kaemmerer  [22:02]

Well, I mentioned obliquely that we need to have something under each of our positions. And it doesn’t have to be what you’re or shouldn’t be actually what your responsibilities were. But actually, your accomplishments, think about the stories that you want to tell recruiters when you have the opportunity for an interview. Tell those stories. Tell the stories about the process that you implemented that saved money, that allowed the company to move forward with fewer resources, getting more done, stuff like that. Use metrics, if you have them. Make sure that you are list you know, using your 2000 characters for each position. Not for all the positions going back because you know, some things just really don’t matter. But our most recent position, and the one before that. Fill them out. When we see that you have accomplished in the past, we assume that you will accomplish in the future. So listing your accomplishments is a win win.


Jeff Altman  [23:25]

How many characters in the about field? Do you know that off hand?


Carol Kaemmerer  [23:29]

2600 characters, so that’s five paragraphs in the about field.


Jeff Altman  [23:34]

Excellent. And folks, I’ll just encourage you, if you’re actively looking for work, put your email address in there. Make it easy for people to contact you, instead of spending an InMail to do it. If they do it, they probably haven’t looked at your profile. But if you have your email address, you’re saving someone $15 ish to reach out to you. So since you’re actively looking for work, why you being hard to get. Be easy. And then once it’s gone, once you found something, you can take it out. And for those of you who are concerned about crackpots, or perpetrators on LinkedIn, have a fake email address that forwards to your real one. So this way you can cut it off. When your search is done.


Carol Kaemmerer  [24:24]

Search email address. It really works. It’s not fake like that!


Jeff Altman  [24:31]

It’s not your primary and thus, particularly for women if this is a concern of yours. ‘Oh, you’re very good looking. I’d like to meet you and I’ve got a . . . I need sponsorship from my visa!’ As happens as happens.


Carol Kaemmerer  [24:46]

I get those


Jeff Altman  [24:47]

Everyone gets those among the women. I’ll just simply say and now men are getting it from Asia. That’s a different thing. You want to be contacted, but you don’t need to expose yourself in this, to any sort of danger or nonsense. You can cut it off, you can report people into LinkedIn and block them. There’s lots of different ways that you can protect yourself from nut jobs like these.


Carol Kaemmerer  [25:21]

Absolutely. So I wanted to mention where they should put their email. So there are at least two places that I recommend. One is in the contact information so that if someone connects with you. They will be able to see your email address. But since you are looking for a position, I put it in the about section at the end, some people put it in the about section at the beginning. Either way, in the about section is the place that recruiters are going to be looking. And so I give them the sales first, you know. All about me. And then here’s, here’s my contact information.


Jeff Altman  [26:06]

Excellent. And I know there’s a million more things that people do wrong on LinkedIn. I’ve created a lot of videos about that. What else do you think we should highlight today about what they do wrong?


Carol Kaemmerer  [26:17]

Okay, well, I’m not having any recommendations is a problem. I recommend to people that they seek from someone who supervised them at some point in their career, a recommendation, not from your current supervisor, because that’s not oil. But ask someone that you worked for in the past to give you a recommendation. Think about someone who worked at your same level, in your same company or alongside you on a project. but in a different company. Maybe, you know, you were working across companies to do a project. That would be a colleague kind of recommendation. And then finally, if you have ever supervised anyone, look to someone who you are not currently supervising, who might be able to write your recommendation. So that’s, you know, a real quick one.


Jeff Altman  [27:29]

Recommendations. Having worked in search for as long as I did, recommendations are really pivotal in how people see it. After all, these are people who in theory can attest to the quality of your work. I know I get these messages from overseas when they want me to recommend them for something. And I won’t do it because I don’t want to game the system, I want the system to actually work. So gaming the system, don’t do it. But where you can provide recommendations and ask other people who are your first level of connections, to recommend you for things, it helps you. It really does. Because the recruiters are trying to figure out who to contact. And if they are looking at your profile, they’ll eventually get to and respond to them. They’ll see that someone who knows your work will speak to your successes for them, or how you help them or the benefit that you bring to an organization. We’re back at the idea of social proof and how you as a professional, are receiving a testimonial from someone. And it’s not just you telling people that you’re great. Other people are telling them that


Carol Kaemmerer  [28:46]

it’s a wonderful thing. One other thing that I would like to suggest is a mistake on LinkedIn is not on the the profile itself. But this mistake is not using LinkedIn in its functionality, not contributing to that homepage feed. When we don’t do that. We are not top of mind. Nobody thinks of us when an opportunity that’s right for us comes. But if you have been nurturing your contacts by cheering and commenting on their posts that keeps you top of mind. It affirms others which is a win and they remember you which is another win. And when we are remembered we are referred. And what better way to get into an interview situation than to have been referred by a friend So those people that have never commented online, whose whose idea of commenting is to do the little thumbs up. Thumbs Up is is lovely, thank you very much. But and you need to comment. And the comment needs to be better than way to go. It’s supposed to be at least five words to like count on LinkedIn in terms of three. Even way to go, Carol Kaemmerer, doesn’t really help. I don’t believe that the idea is that you want to add value. So if you’re commenting on someone’s article, think about it. If it’s a listicle, think about saying, you know, I really liked point number three, because I’ve seen that time and again, in my own company, blah, blah, blah, blah. Or pick a quote and attribute it to the person who wrote the article. You know, put it in quotation marks and do a double dash. ‘Sage advice, Jeff. Make it so that the person knows that you commented.

Getting Results from Your Posts on LinkedIn

Jeff Altman  [31:26]

And the easiest way to do that is to tag them, or use the reply feature to their post. Because I always think, especially for senior professionals, you don’t have time. So how can we do things that optimize your time. I know the easiest thing is really sharing something that you read that has value, and working up from there. So if once a week you share an article, throw in a comment about it, and why it had meaning. That’s about one paragraph long, maybe tag a few people that you know in it which is better yet, because then you’re giving them the opportunity to comment on yours, which LinkedIn likes that much more. Pick four or five people. Rotate them, and get yourself out there so that LinkedIn wants to refer you because you’re an active member of the platform. And they want to do that. What else haven’t we covered yet that we really should amongst the mistakes people make?


Carol Kaemmerer  [32:30]

Well, here’s one that is specifically for people who have been on LinkedIn forever and ever.


Jeff Altman  [32:38]

Oooh, me!


Carol Kaemmerer  [32:39]

Yeah, yeah. So you need to go to your edit your public profile and URL section. Now that you will find that to the right of your profile. So you’re looking at your profile page, right to the right, right at the top. It says edit your public profile and URL. So what I want you to do when you do that, number one, if you haven’t ever edited your URL, you’re right there. This is your opportunity. And this is more important now than it has been before. Because people are typing their LinkedIn URL in chat apps on Zoom. You know, it’s like we’re all in a big room. And people say, ‘Well, you know, drop your LinkedIn URL in here and, you know, let’s have some connection.’ Well, you know, other people are writing, Ted Smith change, you know, in there, well, it starts, then the person’s name and a key word, or the person’s name and their academic credentials, or, you know, something exciting like that. And other people are typing, you know, Ted Jones 1297czx. Try trying to remember what their LinkedIn profile URL is. And it’s, it’s just ridiculous. But especially when you’re in job search, if you customize your URL, you could put it on your email signature block, at the end of every email, you can do that in almost every LinkedIn, or almost every email program has a little way that you can set up something that looks neat. And make sure that you have a tidy URL that doesn’t take up a whole line. And after you’ve customized your LinkedIn URL, go down and you will see As you know, all every section of the LinkedIn profile and little slider buttons, the slider buttons have things turned off and turned on. Now the mistake that I see most commonly with senior leaders, if they’re going to make a mistake like this, it is that they back when they joined, they turn their picture off. Because in that time, it was scary to have our picture online, and people didn’t do it. And so many people turn there, they turned all kinds of things off. They turned their picture off, which is what you can see. But they turned off things that you can’t see, like they turned off their experience, or they turned off their skills. Well, the LinkedIn bots cannot read something that you’ve turned off to the public. So make sure that your picture and every section of the LinkedIn profile shows to the public when they are looking at your profile. So that’s, you know, it’s kind of a global thing. But you just want to make sure that you haven’t hidden away part of yourself that you thought was important, and it probably was important to you way back then to keep some things secret. Now, if you keeping it secret, you’re not going to be found on LinkedIn, because the bots can’t read your profile.


Jeff Altman  [36:32]

I’ll also mention a new feature that came online recently that on your profile, not in this area but in the Standard Profile area, if you click on the pencil related to your heading area, you can now . . .  we have a personal website. So this way, if you want to direct people to your site for more information, you can tell them For more about me, and then direct them to the website itself. It’s a nice little add in. Carol, we could go on for a long time because like I said, there’s a million mistakes people make. How can people find out


Carol Kaemmerer  [37:07]

I know all about . . .

Do You Send Connection Requests to People You Don’t Know on LinkedIn?”

Jeff Altman  [37:09]

I know I made some of them many years ago,


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2300 episodes.

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2 Responses
  1. Carol Kaemmerer

    Jeff Altman, I enjoyed being on your show and sharing with your job-seeking audience how to be memorable on the LinkedIn platform AND how to avoid major mistakes.

    1. Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

      Thank you very much @Carol Kaemmerer. I enjoyed interviewing you and know that people will get a lot from you. Be great!

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