LinkedIn is a social network that is designed specifically for professional networking and job hunting across the country. In order to truly make an impact and find the job you really want, it is important to avoid making the most common social online faux pas with your LinkedIn profile. You may be able to get away with it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, but recruiters have been known to check a potential candidate’s LinkedIn account and verify the validity of their work experience and skills. Little misrepresentations, bad spelling or grammar, and inappropriate photos or postings may cost you that big promotion or new job you’ve been looking forward to. Listed here are the 10 most commonly made mistakes on LinkedIn that you should avoid at all costs and tips on how to create the best LinkedIn profiles.
No Profile Photo
While we hope other business professionals won’t hire you based on your looks alone, it is highly recommended for you to include a photo on your LinkedIn profile. Why, you ask? It’s simple: if you choose not to include a clear picture of your face on your profile, you are eliminating trust and becoming an unknown, and this is a bad call if you are trying to find a job, internship or further your professional career. You are essentially selling yourself on this website, and the buyers, recruiters or corporate human resource managers, want to know what they are getting if the “buy” you and invite you for an interview. How likely are you to buy something online without first seeing it, especially if a competing product or candidate provides less risk? Although a recruiter would never hire you based on your looks alone, they simply cannot help but fear the worst if you choose to provide nothing at all.
Using The Wrong Photo
Omitting a photo completely is one thing, but using the wrong photo can have consequences that are just as damaging. For instance, if you are a 50 year old looking to further your career, it is a horrible idea to include a photo of yourself from 20 years ago. Surprisingly, this is a very common mistake. While having a younger, attractive photo on LinkedIn may help you score an interview, you cannot hide behind this photo in real life. Showing up to an interview looking significantly different than your photo will leave the interviewer feeling cheated, wondering what else you are glorifying or concealing? Similarly, it is important to keep the picture professional. Excessive make-up or exposed cleavage is completely unprofessional and may have the opposite effect you are looking for.
Falsifying Education Information
While this mistake does not occur as often as some of the others listed here, it is one that is worth noting because it can have some serious repercussions, whether you get the job or not. It may not seem likely that someone in the LinkedIn network will be able to prove that you did not graduate from Harvard University in 2002, but with the world being such a small place, you just never know. Also, for the same reason, never list school activities on your profile in which you never participated. You run the risk of being called out to discuss your experiences and once this happens, your reputation on the site will never be the same. Have confidence in your abilities and be honest – if you don’t get the job based on your own merits, then maybe the position wasn’t the best fit for you. You also may want to consider checking out our article on the highest paying jobs without a college degree, found here!
If you were unemployed at the time that you set up your LinkedIn account and chose ‘looking for job opportunities’ under your contact preferences, this can become annoying for you once you are employed and don’t change this setting. Depending upon your current employment status, it is important for you to check this part of your profile every so often and ensure that it is set correctly. Otherwise, you may be unemployed and not receiving any requests for content, or vice versa, employed and receiving job requests.
The headline on your LinkedIn profile is the first thing that your contacts and recruiters will see, so it is important for you to ensure that your headline is catchy and accurate. As such, never list a job position that you do not hold, or boast any skill sets that you do not possess. Find a happy medium between just listing your job title and providing a lengthy description; either of these can turn off recruiters. A description meant for a PhD dissertation may be seen as too convoluted and verbose. For example, if you are a great accountant who enjoys cooking, a headline such as “CPA: Great with numbers and calamari!” may be just the headline you are looking for.
Over-Tweaking Your Skills
Job-related skills are obviously very important, and recruiters will often look here first for your qualifications. While you should definitely list all of the skills you possess, you should take care to avoid stretching the truth, no matter how small. It is likely that prospective employers will test you on the skills you claim during an interview, so asserting certain skills when you do not have them can only hurt your reputation in the long run.
Faking “Work Partners”
It may look great on your profile to claim you have worked with the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, but it can be detrimental to your career if this is an outright lie. Similarly, if you are interested in listing someone as a work connection on LinkedIn, try to avoid using the standard form that is provided. Instead, draw up a personalized request and provide your connection with a frame of reference. This way, you stand a better chance of developing connections and enhancing your overall profile.
It is becoming commonplace these days for LinkedIn users to locate people who are successful within certain industries and ask for recommendations, even before any communication has taken place. This is a terrible idea, however, and it should be avoided at all costs. In fact, some LinkedIn gurus state that asking for recommendations at any point during a business relationship should be frowned upon. Instead, you may choose to write a letter to your prospective recommender that highlights the job position you are looking for and all of the positive aspects you would like them to focus on. By doing this, they are more likely to provide you with their attention and, ultimately, recommendation.
Don’t Think Too Small
One of the most commonly made mistakes by LinkedIn users is thinking too small. For instance, if you work for a large company and want to gain as many connections from that company as you can, never assume that the CEO or President will overlook your requests. Instead, draw up a letter to that individual that is powerful enough to catch their attention and get him or her interested in your career path. You may focus on your interest in them from a professional standpoint, demonstrating that you are an admirer who hopes to learn from them. The goal here is to make the connection beneficial to you both while providing the CEO with some sort of incentive for including you as a connection – even if it is just to watch your career blossom under his or her wing.
Never Underestimate The Power of Desperation
Though many experts warn against seeming desperate for a job, new research has shown that this may just be the trick to landing a job. If you lost your job tomorrow, how would you handle it? Would you update your Facebook status immediately, or would your pride resolve you to only telling your closest friends and family members? Truthfully, by being honest and open with your entire LinkedIn network as soon as your employment ends, you may find yourself with plenty of offers and support. After all, you never know if a specific recruiter has had his or her eyes on you and has been waiting for this opportunity.
While some of these tips and tricks for LinkedIn may seem to fall outside the box, it is essential to remember that truthfulness and a willingness to succeed are often all that is necessary to stand out from your competition. By being unique and completely trustable, you will have already made a significant impact on your LinkedIn family.