April 15, 2024
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7 Common LinkedIn Mistakes

OK. I’ll admit it. I am a LinkedIn addict.

For those of us living in the professional world of 2014, we know what a valuable and really critical resource LinkedIn has become. It is essential for maintaining a professional presence, keeping in touch, and networking. Since something tells me that I might be preaching-to-the-choir, I will end the infomercial here.

Having been a heavy LinkedIn user for close to a decade, I thought I would share some observations relating to LinkedIn profiles and activity. There are obviously many more points to present. But here, I address 7 of them which are on my mind most recently. They are really just some simple basics. Heavy LinkedIn users will surely have others. Please feel to offer your own favorites in the Comments section.

(1) Are you in the game or not? When someone is looking you up on LinkedIn and you only have a single-digit number of connections, you will not be taken seriously. If you have joined LinkedIn, you must establish a presence by showing that you have a network. It speaks to your professional credibility as well as your ability to add value to others.

(2) Pass incomplete: What obviously sometimes happens is that someone was convinced to start an account and a profile, and never finished his profile. In some ways, it might be better if the person had no account at all. Sometimes you see just one job and no education listed. I find it interesting how some people who have large numbers of connections can still have a relatively empty profile.

(3) Selfie? While it might appear like a trivial thing, having a quality professional picture as part of your LinkedIn profile is important. While it is rare for a standard resume to have a photo, not having a picture on LinkedIn looks half-baked. It is not narcissistic to have a photo posted. Now, what kind of photo should you post? But what I can say, by way of guidelines is this: no selfies, pictures taken at the beach or at the glamour studio in the mall, wedding shots, poorly- cropped pictures of you with some random hand on your shoulder, or any image which is dark or grainy. It pays to spend the time getting a formal high resolution head-shot of you taken against a neutral background. Wear professional attire and not anything revealing or distracting. Also, once you have a solid portrait uploaded, do not feel compelled to change it every month. (Below, I explain that profile changes might be picked up and your whole network will be notified.) If your picture has been taken by a professional photographer for another purpose such as your company’s website or industry publication, request a digital copy for your files.

(4) Have you proofread? Make sure to proofread your entire profile. Pay attention to spelling, spacing, punctuation, and capitalizations. And after you proofread, ask three other close colleagues to do that and give you feedback for you to edit what you missed. There is nothing that looks worse than when a job seekers describes himself as “detail-oriented” and there are errors in the profile. Having that will force the reader to conclude to the contrary.

(5) Up-to-date? It goes without saying that you should keep your profile current in terms of employment and education information. For the most part, your LinkedIn profile should match your real-time resume. So, if something changes in your professional or educational life, make the same adjustment to LinkedIn.

(6) Check your settings: Check to account settings to see if each and every update will be made public. If things are set like that, then each and every time you touch something in your profile, it will go out to your entire network as a job change or milestone. Your first-degree connections and fellow group members will be getting multiple notifications of any such updates and you don’t want to appear digitally redundant.

(7) Are you a Citizen? Be a good LinkedIn citizen. This applies to when you reach out to people in requesting to connect (always customize that default message to make the pitch compelling). It also pertains to the content you post in a given status update. What you post should be professionally relevant to your network. Occasionally, something “light” would be acceptable to present. But, do that selectively. You do not want to come across as having a persona that is exclusively frivolous. Feel free to post articles and links of professional interest, even re-posting from what you saw from someone else in your network. The rule of thumb is to be judicious and exercise common sense before you post. Don’t feel compelled to post something multiple times a day to show that merely you that you still exist.

With these points in mind, you will go a long way in creating a compelling presence either as an active job seeker, passive job seeker, or credible professional in your field.

Elly D. Lasson, Ph.D. leads a nonprofit organization, Joblink of Maryland, supporting the employment objectives of members of the Jewish community. He studied in Yeshivas Ner Yisrael (B.T.L.) and earned his B.A. in Psychology from UMBC as well as his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Organizational Psychology from Wayne State University.

By Elly D. Lasson, Ph.D.

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