Women, Don’t Sell Yourselves Short… on LinkedIn!

Catalyst is a global nonprofit working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to build workplaces that work for women. In March 2020, they published their latest research findings that included, among others:

  • 36% of global boards had at least three women in 2019, up from 32% in 2018
  • Women need to hold at least three board seats to create a “critical mass”, which can lead to better financial performance and more innovative ideas that spring from gender diversity
  • Women’s board tenures are shorter and they are less likely to hold leadership positions than men. However, women holding leadership positions on boards is positively associated with other women directors having longer board tenures.

Looking further into research data, Linda Babcock’s study for her book “Women Don’t Ask” reveals that:

  • 7% of women attempted to negotiate their first salaries while 57% of men did
  • Of those who did negotiate: they got a 7% increase

7% is not much? Stanford negotiation professor Margaret A. Neale puts it into context for us: “If you and your counterpart who did negotiate are treated identically by the company – you are given the same raises and promotions – 35 years later, you will have to work eight more years to be as wealthy as your counterpart at retirement.” 8 more years. That’s 2920 more days.

What you can do about it right away? Pimp up your LinkedIn profile

In 2017 and 2018, LinkedIn did research on gender bias in recruiters and found that recruiters are 13% more likely to click on man’s profile than a woman’s. And a team of their Economic Graph project that studied MBA graduates (from top 10 business schools) found that while having comparable competencies, women did not tend to complete the summary or job descriptions which, at the end of the day, is what recruiters and decision makers read to understand whether you are qualified / competent or not.

Here are five quick tips to help women bring their LinkedIn profiles to “all-star-level”:

1. Complete your profile

It is a simple as that: fill out all sections. A more recent analysis looked at female profiles in the U.S and found that women had shorter profile summaries. In other words, don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be shy. Describe your tasks and projects. What is important: be as concrete as possible, but don’t publish sensitive information.

2. Add skills

Adding skills is a key element of having a full profile. The above-mentioned LinkedIn study showed that US females listed 11% fewer skills. That doesn’t seem much? LinkedIn has found that profiles with 5+ skills are viewed 17 times more than profiles with fewer. Tip: if you are actively applying to job ads, add the required qualifications to your profile – assuming that you indeed have them.

3. Professional photo

Yes, we have to mention photos, although this should be clear after 17 years of existence: LinkedIn is not Facebook. LinkedIn is not a dating website. Upload a photo that “looks like your professional self”. Wear what you would wear to an important business meeting.

4. Use the power of networking

Make use of research groups specifically set up for women, as e.g. Women in Healthcare, the Female Leaders Network of the WU Executive academy, etc.

5. Address gaps

Women are more likely to have career breaks than men and there are three ways to go about it:

  • When enlisting your working experience, do so by excluding months. The gaps might disappear.
  • If the career break is recent and relevant: mention what you did during the break to keep professionally active.
  • If the career break is at least 5 years in the past: don’t bother, but be prepared to talk about it during an interview.


Having a complete LinkedIn profile doesn’t seem like much of a change for yourself or the women on the job market – but it is a great start. It will help you, as a competent woman, get into more interesting and better recruitment processes, it will increase the number of women in management and leadership positions and it’ll make some workplaces better workplaces.

If you are an experienced manager or executive who’d like objective feedback on their LinkedIn profile, feel free to request a complimentary LinkedIn Report. Click here or send an email with the link to your profile to Bichl.Sandra (at) CareerAngels.eu. Subject: LinkedIn Report

This article was first published on September 18, 2020 on WU Executive Academy News.