Avoid These 5 Deadly LinkedIn Mistakes

WorkCoachCafeLinkedIn mistakes are too common and can be very damaging. Those errors make a job search more difficult and career success more challenging than it should be. Avoid being one of these unfortunate people by avoiding these 5 common LinkedIn mistakes.

LinkedIn Mistakes Too Many People Make

Picture a recruiter, who has the perfect job or opportunity for you. This recruiter is desperately looking for you, but they cannot find you. Here’s why…

LinkedIn Mistake # 1: Ignoring the SEO power of LinkedIn.

Google trusts LinkedIn, so entries from LinkedIn are often at or very near the top of any search on a person’s name — a significant position that leverages both LinkedIn’s reputation and reach.

Recruiters and employers search LinkedIn and Google relentlessly (and they search LinkedIn using Google, too). The searches happen usually for two primary reasons:

  • To find qualified candidates with a keyword search.
    The recruiter is looking for a candidate qualified for their opportunity. Consequently, the terms used in a Profile determine whether or not a candidate is in the search results (for both Google and LinkedIn), and how high up they appear in the search results (page 1 is better than page 25).
  • To confirm the candidate’s qualifications by doing a search on the candidate’s name.
    Recruiters research candidates to verify the facts on the resumes or applications are correct and to get a sense of the candidate’s “fit” with the organization. This is why “Defensive Googling” should be practiced and also why the same version of your name should be used for all of your professional visibility, from resumes and applications to other online professional social networks — your name is a very important keyword for you.

So the right keywords are essential, and LinkedIn provides almost endless opportunities to include keywords, from the Professional Headline at the top of your Profile (and visible whenever you are active on LinkedIn). People often overlook the Location (current or your target, if you want to move) and Industry fields at the top of their Profile, too, which are both excellent keywords as well as important bits of information for people viewing your Profile.

Your Summary, Work Experience, Posts, Projects, Skills and Endorsements, and other LinkedIn Profile sections are perfect places to include your keywords. Simply scanning the list of LinkedIn Profile sections gives you a complete list of keyword categories.

Read To Be Hired, Be Found, How to Beat the Resume Black Hole, and Keywords Critical for Your Career for more information.

LinkedIn Mistake # 2: Keeping their LinkedIn Profile “private.”

It amazes me how many people have taken the time and effort to build a LinkedIn Profile, but then they keep them private. For most professions, a LinkedIn Profile is not optional. That Profile is an essential and credible foundation for your personal online reputation management.

LinkedIn is the most respected professional social network, and the goal of having a LinkedIn Profile is to be visible to potential clients/customers, network members, and recruiters/employers. NEVER confuse LinkedIn with Facebook!

If you go to the effort of creating a good LinkedIn Profile, what is the point of keeping it “private”? Having a private LinkedIn Profile is like buying airtime on a TV network to run your commercial, and then NOT giving it to the network to run. So, dead air, and major wasted opportunity!

The reality is that using the LinkedIn privacy setting only blocks search engines from seeing your Profile (one of the major benefits of a LinkedIn Profile is the search engine visibility). That Profile is still visible inside LinkedIn, primarily to recruiters who purchase the LinkedIn Recruiter  service.

Read Why Submitting a Resume Isn’t Enough and  Privacy vs. Visibility for a Successful Job Search to understand the importance of that search engine visibility today, particularly in Google.

LinkedIn Mistake #3: Being inactive.

Next to a skimpy Profile with no keywords, inactivity on LinkedIn is another major mistake. As a social network, LinkedIn offers many opportunities for visibility but they do require a bit of effort and attention:

  • Leverage LinkedIn Groups — for visibility, to learn, and to expand your network. LinkedIn members can join up to 100 Groups (out of over 2 million). Join Groups for your field, industry, profession, location, schools, former employers, hobbies, and other interests. Groups provide excellent opportunities for expanding your visibility and helping others — great for building your professional reputation.
  • Share updates on LinkedIn — “like” someone’s discussion, make a reasonable (not nasty) comment on someone’s discussion or post, share a great article you or another member found. Don’t make dozens of posts a day, but do have more than two a week. This activity keeps you visible and reminds people of your existence. Sharing good, solid information confirms your status as a professional.

Do pay careful attention to your grammar and spelling. Your professionalism is being demonstrated. LinkedIn is not Facebook.

LinkedIn Mistake # 4: Being negative or nasty.

Don’t be negative — about a person (even political) or an organization (especially current or former employers).

If you don’t like someone’s post or comment, ignore it. Move on. You may think that you are demonstrating your high IQ and your command of the subject with your response, but you won’t be. Rather, you will be showing people your less pleasant side, even if they agree with your points.

As a result, you may be viewed as someone who is always negative (because that is what is being demonstrated) and who would not be good to work with. Most employers are looking for someone who will “fit” into their organization and work “nicely with others” (just like in grammar school).

So, unless your target job is a critic or nasty comedian, skip the snarky, rude comments.

LinkedIn Mistake # 5: Not including contact information.

One of the main reasons people join LinkedIn is to expand their network, including with potential employers. So many times, when I’ve searched LinkedIn for someone with specific skills I wanted to hire, I would find a person who appeared qualified. But, their LinkedIn Profile had no contact information, not even an email address. So, they were unreachable unless I wanted to purchase an InMail or spend time researching Google to find another way to reach them.

At a minimum, make your personal (not work!) email address visible in your LinkedIn Contact Information, near the top of your Profile (look for the address card icon). Using your personal email address ensures that you won’t lose access to your LinkedIn Profile if you lose your job and access to your work email address.

Best, because many recruiters are in a hurry, is to include a phone number. Again, a work phone number is less than ideal in case someone calls you with a job opportunity and your boss or the person at the next desk takes the message for you or overhears the call. Google Voice is a good option since it allows you to have a phone number (at Google) which can then be directed to whatever phone you wish — so you can receive calls on your personal cell phone without making your cell phone number public.

Don’t Give Up!

Paying attention to your LinkedIn presence will pay many dividends, from new friends across the world to job offers (your next job may find you!). Stay professional, be on your best behavior, and good things will happen.

More About LinkedIn for Job Search

5 Essential Components of a Successful LinkedIn Profile

3 Bad Assumptions About LinkedIn

Today’s Best Job Search Strategies

To Be Hired, Be Found

How to Beat the Resume Black Hole

Keywords Critical for Your Career

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org and is a columnist on HuffingtonPost and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.

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