Although Facebook may be great for socializing and catching up with friends, LinkedIn is the current go-to source for promoting one’s professional accomplishments and establishing important business connections. It is also a way for recruiters to locate potential employees, while also offering hopeful job candidates a platform in which to network with industry professionals.
During the job application process, most modern companies even go so far as to request that prospective employees include the URLs to their respective LinkedIn profiles. Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is geared almost specifically toward professional networking and discovery. Despite this fact, however, it is not uncommon for many well-intending LinkedIn users to misinterpret or overlook the “modus operandi” of the professional networking site via less-than-worthy status updates and profile blunders. Unfortunately, these LinkedIn missteps can ultimately cost individuals vital employment opportunities.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common LinkedIn pitfalls:
Typical “social media” posts
One of the biggest mistakes many people make on LinkedIn is to treat it like Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn is not a place to post jokes or sarcastic memes. It is also not the appropriate platform for sharing pictures from parties or you night out at the local club or pub, for instance. Even sharing family photos should be avoided, or at least carefully considered, beforehand. Before posting a new status, ask yourself if you would want your boss or prospective employer to view it. If you are sure that your post will either improve an employer’s opinion of you, or at least continue to portray you in a positive and professional light, only then should you go ahead with your status update.
Unprofessional profile picture
A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. In the case of your LinkedIn profile picture, consider this a glimpse into your professional persona. The picture of you and your spouse at the beach with a couple of daiquiris in hand might be cute, but it’s highly unlikely to see that type of picture posted on your company’s staff webpage. When choosing a profile picture, make sure it is recent, professional, and simple. It’s best to use a high-quality head-shot since recruiters will often look for a specific LinkedIn contact while at a networking function; and your picture will help them identify you.
Professional recommendations are great, and often necessary, but if they are too out of date they may end up hurting your prospects instead of enhancing them.
As Erica Brewer wrote in “4 Things You Really Need to Delete From Your LinkedIn Profile Today”, “Outdated recommendations can undersell you, or sell skills you’re not interested in using anymore—which means, they can undermine who you are today.”
Brewer used the example of someone who used to be in marketing but changed their career to web development. In this scenario, the recommendations praising marketing abilities and accomplishments will not demonstrate the individual’s success as a web developer.
Yes, it is possible to “leave off” what technically isn’t there to begin with. A LinkedIn profile that is created and then ignored is of no value. While it is important to include relevant information in your profile, it is also equally important to be proactive and make regular posts. Perhaps, consider performing some of your own research and composing an article relating to your field or professional specialty; or share applicable information you think others in a similar position would find useful or interesting. LinkedIn users must remember that avoiding errors while using the site does not surmount to remaining silently in the background. Also, remember to respond to other members who have taken the time to reach out to you. Corresponding and networking is the main goal of LinkedIn, and to reap and maximize its benefits, individuals need to take action and contribute to the community.
A LinkedIn profile is a necessary social tool in today’s technological world, as well as a valuable resource for employment recruiters and job seekers. However, unlike most other social media platforms, LinkedIn should be treated as a professional public declaration of your strengths, accomplishments and successes.
Article Updated: 3/29/19
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