Does Your LinkedIn Profile Look Forward, or Backward?

Does Your LinkedIn Profile Look Forward, or Backward?
Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Having a LinkedIn profile is a wonderful asset in your transition. Not only does it allow you to be found by prospective employers, your profile also can be used to convey exactly who you are as a working professional.


So, what does your profile say about you? Is it a reflection of your new career path … or is it more representative of your past? 


Look over your LinkedIn profile for these three signals. If you find them, your online presence may be more focused on where you’ve been rather than where you’re going:


1. You are wearing your uniform in your photo. Nothing shouts “military” more than a stoic-faced person in military duds. Uniforms are great for promoting the service, but for indicating your readiness (and willingness) to move forward? Not so much.


2. Your headline is your current job title. Your headline is the line of text immediately beneath your photo, and it announces who you are. It defaults to your current job title unless you change it. Your job title, however, is simply what you are doing, not who you are. You have 120 characters to use here, so make it work for you. For example, “Experienced Program Manager | Strategic Thinker | Proven Leader” gives a much clearer professional description than “Brigade S1 at US Army.”


[RELATED: MOAA on LinkedIn]


3. Your headline is “Transitioning Military Member.” While it is true you are a military person in transition, this conveys your status rather than who you are. There are 200,000 military members in transition each year, so this is unlikely to be your value proposition to a prospective employer. Instead, use this valuable space to convey your top qualifications.


These missteps are easy to avoid. Signal your willingness to move forward by mentally envisioning the future. Provide a full picture of who you are professionally, instead of who you were as a military professional.


You aren’t trying to hide your military service, but it shouldn’t be the star of the show. It’s what you learned in the service that’s valuable – even military-friendly companies want to hire you primarily for your skills, not your service record.


Want to know more? Check out the MOAA archive of career transition topics. Want some visual aids? Premium and Life members can access all the materials in MOAA’s webinar archive, including tips on marketing yourself for a second career. Learn more about joining MOAA or upgrading your membership at this link.


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About the Author

Capt. Patricia Cole, USN (Ret)
Capt. Patricia Cole, USN (Ret)

Cole is MOAA's former Program Director, Career Transition Services