LinkedIn gets a bum rap. Many people see it as a glorified resume site one only need pay attention to when one is in need of a job. This is shouldn’t be the case at all. LinkedIn is more than a place to post job details and occasionally check in with connections. If you’re truly interested in advancing your career, you have to do more with LinkedIn than check in now and then.
What follows is a look at some common mistakes people are making with LinkedIn, and why the little details are more important than you may realize.
1. You only think about LinkedIn when you’re looking for a job.
Most people think of LinkedIn as nothing more than a resume site and treat it as they would a resume, only updating their profiles now and then when they’re on the hunt for a new opportunity. The difference between LinkedIn and a traditional resume is that no one can see the resume you have saved on your hard drive, but people are looking at your LinkedIn profile on a daily basis.
Whether you know it or even optimize for it, there are people who will find your profile in a search on LinkedIn for keywords in your career and interests. There are also old friends, colleagues and acquaintances seeking you out. People who you worked with ten years ago may also be looking at your LinkedIn profile to connect with you when they’re looking for a job.
Recruiters are always searching LinkedIn as are hiring agents for major brands. So if your profile is just a name and a title, you may want to fix that as soon as possible.
2. You’re not asking for recommendations or endorsements.
In the offline world, when you’re looking for a job you ask friends, colleagues and superiors for recommendations, and LinkedIn is no different. While some people see online recommendations and endorsements as a popularity contest, they also tell us something else.
- Popularity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Brands want to hire people who are popular. Popularity means people will follow you and respond to you. It means you’ll bring in customers, clients and even recommend co-workers.
- Many endorsements mean you’re respected and admired among your peers. If your LinkedIn profile shows hundreds of endorsements it means you’re well known in your industry and that’s never a bad thing.
- People don’t give recommendations lightly. Most people won’t risk their professional reputations by recommending someone who isn’t fit for the job.
Don’t be shy about asking for references, recommendations or endorsements on LinkedIn. People who are hiring take them seriously and so should you.
3. You’re not paying attention to who is viewing your profile.
Your LinkedIn profile page shows you the last five or so people who have visited your profile over the last week. Many of these are people you’ve never heard of. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and it doesn’t mean strangers are stalking you. What it does mean is that people are interested in your profile for a reason.
Granted, most people who view your LinkedIn profile are folks who will never get in contact with you or even offer to make a connection. However, many people are also strategic in their searches on LinkedIn and are looking for people to hire, collaborate with, ask to present at a conference, or even author a book.
If someone who has viewed your LinkedIn profile intrigues you, don’t be afraid to reach out and let that person know you noticed he’s been reading your page and ask if there’s anything you can help him with. He may ignore you or the inquiry may lead to a lucrative business opportunity. You never know if you don’t ask.
4. Your profile picture is too personal.
LinkedIn isn’t Facebook or Pinterest. It’s a professional platform for people who are looking to network with their peers or find work in their chosen industry. With this in mind, why is your profile photo of you and your husband locked in a loving embrace or of you and your friends surrounded by beer bottles? LinkedIn isn’t the place for personal updates, so do keep those photos professional.
5. You’re less than truthful.
People who lie on their resumes are often found out. Human Resources professionals check facts online and offline. Moreover, in the online world more people are likely to call you out on your untruths. If you didn’t graduate college, don’t say you did. Don’t list vague brands, list names. Don’t say you worked with Fortune 500 companies if you worked for one brand that fired you after a couple of weeks. People who take their brands seriously are also serious about hiring the right people. If you lie on your LinkedIn, people can and will find out.
- Name the places you worked, don’t list vague “brands” or “clients.”
- List the duration of time you worked for every job. It makes a difference if you worked for someone for several weeks or several years.
- List your true achievements and accolades. If you didn’t truly earn it, don’t list it.
- Don’t try and fill your profile with things you think other people want to hear. People who hire are most interested in the truth.
- Remember that people you know will be reading. It’s embarrassing when people publicly call you out and say, “hey, that never happened.”
LinkedIn is more than just a place to post a few random details about your job. Take some time to craft a truly awesome profile page and see if it makes a difference. Chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
How much attention do you pay to LinkedIn?