Millions of Americans use social media these days for their job searches. One of the most popular is LinkedIn.
“LinkedIn is a good resource because with more than 175 million members, it is the largest social media platform focused on business networking. LinkedIn not only serves as a virtual Rolodex of your trusted business associates, it allows you to discover potential networking connections you may not know,” says Matt Kerr, director of Executive Search and Talent at international consulting firm BPI group. “LinkedIn allows users to see who their connections know, which is crucial when job hunting, recruiting or looking for new business leads.” While these open up new doors to you, there are mistakes people make when using LinkedIn.
Here are a few things NOT to do on LinkedIn, according to Kerr:
• Writing Errors: The biggest mistake users make on LinkedIn is failing to spell check their profiles before posting.
• Not A Soapbox: A LinkedIn profile is a professional branding statement. Profiles that delve into controversial areas, such as politics or religion, should be avoided unless those controversial areas are directly in support of the desired brand or business an individual is trying to portray.
• Not Facebook: Profile pictures should be professional as opposed to an avatar or candid snapshot that may send the wrong branding message.
• Bad Branding: Creating profiles that are not branding statements–simply cutting and pasting a resume, showing excessive achievements is not the best way to use LinkedIn. Users should add value and share information that might be helpful to others. If a stand-alone resume is the only feature used, you aren’t leveraging all the unique capabilities LinkedIn has to offer. Searching for other like-minded individuals, posting questions and answers to boost your expertise and joining in discussion groups are all ways to increase your brand and participate in the community.
• Careless Behavior: For job seekers who are already employed, failing to turn off activity broadcast when making multiple profile updates is risky behavior. Every time a LinkedIn member makes an update to their profile, every connection of that member is notified via status update—including their co-workers and supervisors. Be careful not to broadcast your job searching activities when your current employer could find out by simply logging on to LinkedIn.
Now you know some of the mistakes that you may be making with your LinkedIn profile. Here are some tips on how to make your LinkedIn page better, according to Kerr.
1. Your headline is the best real estate on your profile, so include your full name, position titles that you have held or could hold and any search terms that someone would use to find you. Your profile should be searchable—company recruiters are searching for people based on title and key terms.
2. Spend time writing a short paragraph that describes your current employer (publicly held, privately held, products/services produced, size). In the next paragraph talk about what you do and show your scope and level. By describing your company in additional detail, you are afforded the opportunity to interject key industry terms– some key words or phrases that a corporate recruiter might be searching. These keywords will enhance your ability to be found by potential employers that are searching for someone with your industry and functional experience.
3. Always include your full name and contact information in your profile. Multiple mentions of your name can optimize your profile so it shows first in a search engine.