Most social media apps are places where we can loosen up a little. You can relax and post silly pictures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. Compared to most social media sites, our sponsor LinkedIn is pretty buttoned-up.
You always need to put your best foot forward when you’re on this app. After all, it’s where you go to connect with coworkers and find new careers. That means you should avoid being too personal since that can damage your credibility.
But that’s just one of many common LinkedIn flubs. You may be guilty of a few more subtle errors without knowing it. Avoid these LinkedIn mistakes — they might hurt you in the long run.
Error No. 1: The net you’re casting is way too wide
Many modern filmmakers design blockbusters to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. They want as many warm bodies in the seats as possible, so they avoid plotlines that may alienate audience members. It’s all very general and agreeable: Good guy fights bad guy, bad guy loses, they all live happily ever after and so on.
Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to follow general guidelines like that. You want to appeal to niche audiences.
You want to specifically tailor your LinkedIn page to make people in your industry feel like you’re a respectable professional in their field. If you’re too vague and don’t include any personal details, you may have general appeal … but you lack individual distinction.
Bottom line: When job hunting, you want to stick out from the crowd. Emphasize the experiences that make you different. Cast too wide a net, and the best fish will slip away.
Error No. 2: You say “yes” to every friend request
When you’re new to LinkedIn, you may get overly excited by the influx of friend invites. You may think a surplus of connections shows recruiters you’re social and have a vast network. However, if they go through your contacts and find obvious scam accounts, that could be a strike against you.
Indiscriminate connections can be tempting, but inflating your numbers makes it more difficult for recruiters to get a good idea of who you are. Like we said earlier, they want to understand what drives you since that helps them figure out if you’re a good fit.
If you’re a journalist, for example, and you have 100 friends in the construction industry, they may wonder what’s going on. Are you considering a career shift? Are you more interested in carpentry than fact-checking?
Bottom line: Befriend professionals you know and those you would like to learn from. Find people with potential within your industry, as well as those who have many LinkedIn connections in your specific industry.
Error No. 3: You’re underselling yourself
Sure, you want to avoid showboating. No one likes someone who toots their own horn and constantly goes on about how qualified they are. But don’t be too humble.
Remember that you’re a professional who has earned all the accolades you’ve received. You’ve worked hard, and there’s nothing arrogant about stating your qualifications and experiences.
Bottom line: Emphasize your career development and explain how you’ve progressed in each of your jobs. For instance, list all the positions you’ve held at the same company since this shows how you grow and succeed in your workplace. Also, don’t just list jobs — go into detail about your work experience and responsibilities.
Error No. 4: Your focus is too narrow
You may think, “Okay, LinkedIn is a job site. Therefore, I should only focus on my jobs.” Do that, and you paint an inaccurate picture of yourself. You’re robbing recruiters of fully understanding your character.
Take a step back and think of yourself as a recruiter would see you. Freelance gigs, volunteer jobs and certifications can all paint a complete picture of who you are as an individual. Include them so recruiters can see the whole package you have to offer.
Brush up on your work experience, too. Don’t say things like “My responsibilities included …” or “Each day, I did this…” because they come across as stale. Emphasize your actions with strong verbs like “I grew, I managed, I led, I created, I progressed,” and so on.
Bottom line: You’re a fully-realized and well-rounded person, not a robot. Your profile should reflect each experience that built you into a better worker — even if they aren’t jobs. For instance, if you’re a seamstress and volunteer to sew free drama costumes for local theater, include that! Unpaid experiences can help recruiters understand your skills and what drives you.
Error No. 5: You aren’t writing with the audience in mind
It’s one thing to talk about your achievements. It’s another to give people looking over your profile a good impression. When listing your skills, try to go beyond the bare minimum.
Give readers an idea of how your accomplishments changed your workplace for the better. Sure, you’re an individual, but recruiters want to know how you work in a team. Think of yourself as a spice; you’re just one part of the soup, but you elevate it to new levels.
Bottom line: Clarify how you made your employer’s life easier. If you can, give specific examples of times when you’ve stepped up to initiate change.
Error No. 6:
Now, these tips have all been for job hunters. But what if you have a job to offer, but no one’s biting at the bait? That could mean you’re making a colossal mistake: Not using LinkedIn Jobs. Here’s what we mean.
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