Stop writing your Linkedin profile in the 3rd person!
by David Smooke
I know you may think you’ve accomplished so much that someone should be talking about your professional conquests, and maybe they are, but not on your own LinkedIn page. When I see the 3rd person on a LinkedIn page I think, has this person been hacked? Or are you just that out of touch when it comes to presenting yourself on the social web?
The social web’s value lies in direct connection to anyone’s personal page. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or wherever, nearly everyone stores some from of their identity on a page online. That’s why my company’s job advertisements encourage candidates to apply with whatever profiles already stores their information. Candidates (and companies for that matter) should be forthcoming. Your information is out there for reference. When you write about yourself on your LinkedIn profile, the use of the first person is appropriate.*
What I am writing about is nothing new; it’s just arrogance manifesting within another medium. When Esquire tackled, “Why the F%$# Do People Refer to Themselves in the Third Person?” Harvard Medical School Professor and Author of Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality explained:
Referring to yourself in the third person creates distance between “I” and “he.” So if you have an exaggerated view of how great you are, you could be using this distance to make yourself even bigger. Or, if you’ve achieved major success suddenly, using the third person could be a way to adjust to the bigger role that’s been assigned to you. It’s a way to enlarge yourself to fit that role.
Why would people refer to themselves in the 3rd person on LinkedIn more often than they do on Facebook? LinkedIn’s emphasis on role. The 3rd person is a way to enlarge yourself to fit that exaggerated role of how great you (seemingly) are. At some point exaggerations become lies, and that will red flag your resume. Sometimes, the resume is better off simple. Often times your titles and company names are plenty to give 80% of your professional profile. For the final 20% of your professional profile, be humble, be honest, and above all else, be yourself.
(*If you are one of the few people who had their LinkedIn profile written by someone else – there is nothing wrong with ghostwriting – acknowledge that no matter who wrote the page, your LinkedIn page is you telling me what you do.)
Editor’s Note: This also applies to resumes and any other profile you are maintaining on your own for social purposes, like Twitter. It is okay for annual reports, bios for blogs (particularly ones that you don’t maintain) and items distributed at your speaking engagements. Those of you who pay attention will note that my bio on TheCareerKing is in 3rd person. I am guilty of taking a shortcut because I wrote it for other publications too. Don’t make the mistake if you are looking to get a job or grow your following on Linkedin.