I’m so impressed by how rapidly people have progressed with LinkedIn over the past couple of years, across so many fronts. It used to be that, upon venturing over to check someone out, you’d find the person’s profile, but quickly discover there was not much more to it. There it was–a lonely placeholder, created by a professional who realized she ought to be “on” LinkedIn, but had no idea what to do once there.
Or, if the profile did contain content, it was an exact cut-and-paste of the resume.
Fortunately, professionals today truly seem to be “getting” how to leverage social media for professional branding and job search, and they’re doing a lot right on the platform.
However, they’re also doing a few things a little bit less right. And, if care isn’t used, these not-quite-right things could lead to not-so-great outcomes. Let’s not have that be you.
Here are four things you may be slightly off the mark on, and how to fix them:
1. You’re Making Edits (Like Crazy)
Let’s assume you just decided that you’re going to quietly start looking for a new job, and it occurs to you that you should spruce up your rarely touched profile. And so, you excitedly race out and make 22 edits to your profile, which your existing connections (some of whom are co-workers, or your boss) then see reported in their own LinkedIn news feeds.
What do you suppose these people will assume when they see your forever dormant profile spring to life before their very eyes? Yes, that is correct. They will figure (and, in this case, correctly) that you’re looking for a new position. If you’re a covert job seeker? This would not be a good thing.
You for sure want to spruce up your profile when looking for a new job, but do so without alerting the world (especially people you work with). How do you do this? Hover over the tiny avatar of yourself on top of the screen and, from the dropdown menu, choose Privacy & Controls. Next select Privacy, then Sharing profile edits, and finally choose “No.” This way, people won’t be alerted that you’ve made edits, given recommendations, or followed certain companies.
2. You’ve Started Posting Updates (Lots of Them)
This is another one of those telltale signs that you’re either looking for a new job (again, not a good thing if you’re searching on the sly), or a LinkedIn newbie. Yes, the platform offers a status update feature, much like Facebook (but the professional version). And it can be a great tool for staying on the radar of people in your network and positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field.
However, if you’ve rarely (or never) used it and then suddenly become all Ms. Power Updater overnight, you’re going to raise eyebrows.
Consider more of a “slow build” strategy here. Be selective and update your professional network on periodic things that you’re up to. Share occasional articles or blog posts. Ease into this so people don’t suspect you are up to something, or new to social media.
3. You Ask for Recommendations (All at Once)
I can always tell when someone has gone out and strong-armed their buddies into saying nice things about them on LinkedIn. And I typically assume that this person is either preparing for job search, or already looking. How can I tell? Recommendations are date stamped. If you ask 14 people to recommend you all at once, your people will probably respond within a few days of one another. So you’ll get a big “blob” of recommendations, within a very short window of time.
Ask one or two people at a time when seeking recommendations, that way they appear to be coming in organically and without prompting.
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4. You Create a Summary (With No Call-to-Action)
This may be the area in which I’m seeing the most progress on LinkedIn: People are beginning to truly understand how valuable the summary section can be as they work to shape their professional brands and entice certain audiences. However, I don’t see many summaries with a strong call-to-action. And this is a wasted opportunity. Who do you most want to visit your profile and, once they get there, what do you want them to do?
Figure out your call-to-action out and then construct a summary that aligns with this audience.
I’m currently exploring senior digital strategist roles with specific emphasis on marketing agencies in Chicago or Dallas. I welcome you to contact me at [your email address].
Now, you need to use some care if you’re a covert job seeker, but to the extent possible, you want to spell out what you want profile visitors to do.
I’m always looking to meet other professionals in the marketing space—online or in person. Please feel free to reach out.
Either way, give recruiters and hiring managers a super easy way to get in touch.
Like any social media platform, LinkedIn can be a little bit tricky in terms of best practices and how to use it to your best advantage. But don’t let nervousness keep you from harnessing the power of the best platform we have for career networking and job search. Proceed with a bit of caution as you dive in—but for certain, dive the heck in.
Jenny Foss is a career strategist, recruiter, and the voice of the popular career blog JobJenny.com. Based in Portland, OR, Jenny is the author of the Ridiculously Awesome Resume Kit and the Ridiculously Awesome Career Pivot Kit. Also check out the Weekend Resume Makeover Course, find Jenny on Twitter @JobJenny, and book one-on-one coaching sessions with her on The Muse's Coach Connect.More from this Author