By Martha C. White
July 7, 2015

Your LinkedIn profile can be the ticket to a better job and career advancement, but if you’ve got the wrong stuff in there, it’s going to just hold you back instead. Career experts say these are the top offenders.

Your unemployed status. Don’t use your headline to write that you’re unemployed, even if you use the somewhat gentler-sounding “looking for my next opportunity,” the blog Things Career Related advises. “This is prime real estate for branding yourself and including some keywords.” The odds that a potential employer will be searching for “unemployed?” Zilch.

A bad picture. The average recruiter spends all of six seconds looking at a resume, according to a study conducted by TheLadders. A weird, unflattering or distracting picture will distract people. “Use a professional photographer to get an image that viewers will find appealing,” Katherine Burik advises on the Interview Doctor blog. We have a hard time seeing pictures of ourselves objectively, she says. Having a crisp, professional head shot can help mitigate that.

The third-person summary. Yes, the summary is kind of like a resume in terms of the information it delivers, but it also needs to convey who you are as a person. Wooden, third person or passive voice will just fall flat, according to a Business Insider interview with LinkedIn’s former career expert, Nicole Williams. “This a great place to reflect your professional brand… [but] remember this is a place to infuse personality.”

Dust. Metaphorical dust, that is. Keeping your profile active is one of the most important signals you can send to a prospective employer, says LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher. “A robust and active profile can be your ticket to a variety of professional opportunities,” she says. If you don’t have the time or the writing chops to keep up a blog, don’t worry; there are other ways to show that you’re plugged-in to what’s going on in your industry. “An easy way to do this is to like or comment on the status updates of others in your network,” Fisher says.

Lame cliches. Every year, LinkedIn publishes a roundup of the most overused words people have in their profiles. The current top culprits: motivated, passionate and creative. Although some industries have other words that make the most-overused list — in the sales and talent fields, for instance, “strategic” is the biggest offender — notice what makes all of these words terrible: They’re generic, which means they’ll say nothing about why you in particular would be a good fit for a certain job.

Anything out of date. If you don’t update your resume often, it’s not the end of the world as long as you’re not looking for another job. LinkedIn is different, though; you have to approach it with the attitude that you’re always open to job-seekers, which means keeping your profile up-to-date in every way.

Fibs, white lies and exaggerations. Just don’t. It’s so easy to fact-check almost anything about a person’s work history these days, this is almost guaranteed to be a fail.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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