10 LinkedIn Mistakes You Might Be Making
Are you making mistakes on LinkedIn? LinkedIn can help you find a new job, stay on top of trends in your industry, connect with future employers, even learn new skills. But like all social media, its potential comes with a few downsides. Use this tool the wrong way and you could do serious damage to your professional reputation.
Here’s what to watch out for:
Forgetting To Update Your Profile
You don’t have to update your LinkedIn profile every time you start a new job (or leave an old one). In fact, sometimes it’s a good idea to let the dust settle before you make a change. That way, you won’t have to delete a short-lived role from your profile or announce that you’re on the job market if a new employer snaps you up quickly.
However, it’s important to remember to update your profile whenever you gain new skills, qualifications, or experience. You might hold off on new job titles for a few weeks to make sure they’re a good fit, but add new certifications, job skills, or projects as soon as possible. You’ll attract more attention from recruiters and hiring managers and build your professional brand for the long term.
Choosing the Wrong Picture
A good LinkedIn photo follows a formula. It should show a recent image of you, dressed as if you were at work or a job interview, looking at the camera, and smiling. There should be no one and nothing else in the photo—no children, pets, co-workers, clients, props, or other distractions.
Not everyone has a professional headshot and that’s OK. You can get the same effect at home with your smartphone and a well-lit room. Choose a neutral background where you’ll get enough light and wear an outfit that would be appropriate for work. Pose so that your head and shoulders are visible. Make sure that your final image isn’t blurry or strangely cropped.
Not Including Keywords
Recruiters use keywords to find candidates. Using them in your headline, About section, and other parts of your profile can help you be more visible to them when they’re looking for potential hires.
Knowing this can help you weed out fluffy descriptors and corporate buzzwords and express your experience in ways that a recruiter will understand. You might justifiably think of yourself as a “WordPress Ninja” but if you use that phrase in your headline, a recruiter who’s searching for a “WordPress Developer” will miss out on your profile.
Treating Your LinkedIn Profile Like a Resume
Hate talking about yourself in the third person? Good news—you definitely do not need to do that in your LinkedIn profile. The more authentic and engaging you can be in your writing, the better. That means using the first person (“I” instead of your name) and action words like achieved, created, made, optimized, supported, helped, boosted, succeeded, etc.
Not Recommending Contacts
LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements are a way for your connections to attest to your skills. Not only will these features boost your profile with recruiters, but they’ll also help you stand out from similarly skilled candidates who don’t have visible support from their colleagues.
The best way to get more recommendations and endorsements is to give them. People are much more likely to help those who help them. Plus, you’ll be reminding your connections of your interactions with them, which will help them to write recommendations that make a difference.
Skipping the Skills & Endorsements Section
Whether you’re actively job searching or just staying prepared for unexpected opportunities, listing your skills on LinkedIn will help you get the right kind of attention.
Not sure which skills to include? Look at job listings in your field, especially those that would appeal to you if you were job searching. You’ll be able to see which skills are most valuable in that role and add those that you’ve neglected to mention. You can also seek skills endorsements or take LinkedIn Skills Assessments to bolster your claims.
Note: Only add skills that you really possess. Just as you wouldn’t lie about your job titles or education, you should never stretch the truth about your skill set. If you identify desirable skills that you don’t have yet, you can prioritize picking up a certification, attending a class, or taking on a stretch project in that area.
Not Quantifying Your Achievements
Which is more persuasive: “increased sales” or “increased sales by 25%”? Quantifying your achievements grounds them in reality and translates them into terms that employers and contacts can understand.
When you post something on your LinkedIn profile, you’re inviting people to associate you with the content and tone of that post. So, if you go negative—talk smack about a former boss or blame a previous employer for a layoff—you’ll wind up looking like the problem. This can feel extremely unfair, especially when you have a legitimate issue with a company or colleague. But that’s the way it is.
Instead, stay upbeat. For example, if you’re posting an Open to Work update, talk about what you can do for a prospective employer or what you’re looking for in a role. Leave the venting for your friends and family and keep it offline.
Falling for Scams
Job scammers are getting smarter. They know that they’ll need more than a Nigerian prince or a fake invoice to lure experienced professionals. Some LinkedIn job scams look very much like the real deal, complete with references to real companies and legitimate-looking recruiter profiles.
To identify scam listings from real ones, do your due diligence. Dig into recruiters’ profiles to see previous jobs and activity updates over several years. Beware of requests for money, financial information, or other personal data. And never click links in messages or personal emails without checking your LinkedIn messages first.
Not Customizing Your URL
LinkedIn allows you to customize your URL to include your name (or a variation of it that hasn’t been claimed by another user). It’s a useful personal branding opportunity that allows you to add an easy-to-remember URL to your business cards, resumes, or website. It may also help you appear higher in Google search results or internal LinkedIn searches.