LinkedIn is an extremely useful and inexpensive career and job search tool, but so many professionals and job seekers fail to take full advantage of it, if they use the social media site at all. According to social recruitment marketing company Jobcast, over 93% of companies use LinkedIn to find new talent, but only 36% of job seekers actually have a LinkedIn account. What’s more, of job seekers that do have an account, only about 14% check it on a regular basis. The reasons for this are understandable: chances are that many professionals and job seekers feel that utilizing LinkedIn is too much work, or they just aren’t aware of some of the extremely beneficial and easy-to-use tools available on LinkedIn. Whether you are currently looking for a job or happily employed, here are some important LinkedIn mistakes you should avoid:
1) Sending out generic connection invites
It’s better to have a smaller network that knows you well and you are engaged with than having a ton of LinkedIn connections you barely know or talk to just for the sake of it. One of the LinkedIn mistakes you should avoid when you send out connection invites is failing to personalize the message you send to other professionals, or just sending a generic invite with no message at all. Express why you want to connect, and if you feel it is necessary remind them where you know them from.
To find LinkedIn connections that you don’t already know, join LinkedIn groups where you can find professionals you have interests in common with. This can include college alumni groups or groups related to your industry or a specific skill you are trying to improve. Starting a conversation with someone about a specific matter in the group is an easy way to nab a meaningful and useful professional connection.
2) Not taking advantage of privacy settings
Since many professionals post much less about their personal life on LinkedIn than they would on other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, they may feel they don’t need to worry as much about privacy settings. But this is one of the biggest LinkedIn mistakes you should avoid, regardless of your employment status. If you are currently employed and in the market for another job, there’s no need for your current employer to see updates on their feed about how you are suddenly revamping your entire profile and connecting with a bunch of recruiters. You can easily hide different aspects of your LinkedIn activity by clicking on “Settings & Privacy” in the drop-down menu under your name in the upper right-hand corner.
Also, it’s possible you are a job seeker who checks out a lot of LinkedIn members’ profiles. In this case, one of the LinkedIn mistakes you should avoid is appearing like a stalker to these members, since they are likely to be able to see how often you view their profile. There is a profile privacy option under “Settings & Privacy” that allows you to choose what others see when you have viewed their profile. You can choose to just have certain credentials show up or appear completely anonymous. But be aware that selecting this option can limit the valuable insights you receive about who is looking at your profile (such as recruiters or potential employers that you can get in touch with). You can also keep your profile views under wraps by looking up peoples’ LinkedIn profiles through a Google search when you are logged out.
3) Limiting what your profile says about you
Sure, you aren’t going to be posting vacation photos or discussing the concert you went to see last night on your LinkedIn profile. But that doesn’t mean your profile shouldn’t go beyond your education, past work experience and professional skills. One of the biggest LinkedIn profile mistakes you should avoid is failing to take advantage of sections such as the Summary. In the LinkedIn Summary section, you have more room than on a resume to express your personality, voice and what you are passionate about. This can go a long way in setting you apart from the competition to hiring managers, and make you appear like more a human being instead of a list of professional qualifications.
Another one of the LinkedIn profile mistakes you should avoid is forgetting to list any volunteer work or other interesting projects or activities you have been involved in outside of work (such as a book club or sports team). You never know what could catch someone’s eye, or what you could have in common with another professional that sees your profile.
4) Not posting or engaging with your network
Another one of the biggest LinkedIn mistakes you should avoid is being nothing more than a profile on the network. No matter how good your profile is, you won’t get very far if you aren’t posting updates and engaging with your network. Post updates at least once a week, whether it’s an announcement about a work event, a new professional association you’ve joined, or a piece of content that you either wrote or read somewhere and appreciated. Just make sure whatever you post is related to your professional life and you aren’t posting anything offensive or flirtatious to anyone else in your network.
Also, to keep your professional relationships fresh, pay close attention to what others in your network are up to. When they post an article you like leave a comment, or when they have a work anniversary or start a new job reach out and say congratulations.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.