5 LinkedIn mistakes to avoid when looking for a job
LinkedIn is one of the largest career-focused sites on the internet. It provides a platform for job seekers to showcase their skills and connect with recruiters in their industry.
The platform can serve as a first line of checks for workforce employers to assess an individual’s suitability for a position. What recruiters see or don’t see on your LinkedIn profile can tip the odds against you if your profile isn’t in order.
Nobody wants to be in such a situation. Below are five common LinkedIn mistakes to avoid when looking for a job.
1. Avoid boring, clichéd headlines
Your LinkedIn title is the first thing that gets noticed once someone visits your profile. This is also what emerges from searches on Google and LinkedIn sites. It’s like an article title; it decides whether or not someone clicks to read your profile.
Unfortunately, some people let LinkedIn populate their titles with their job titles. This is not the way to go. Your title is a unique opportunity to sell yourself, and a job title may not do that well enough.
Instead, you should be as descriptive in as few words as possible. Avoid the cliches and boring stuff that millions of other accounts are probably using.
When optimizing your LinkedIn profile, your title should ideally:
- Describe your main skills.
- Make visitors want to connect with you.
- Present yourself as a valued member of society.
- Serve as a call to action.
There’s a huge difference between a LinkedIn headline that says “Translator at ABCD” and one that says “Translator with marketing expertise for the Korean market.” The former is a job title, while the latter is a brilliant pitch.
To make a title that sells:
- Use clear and compelling language.
- Use a combination of keywords that visitors would likely search for, for example, “translator” and “Korean”.
- Be precise. Nobody just wants a translator; they will need a translator for a specific language, for example, a Korean translator.
- Offer unique value. There are probably thousands of Korean translators, but fewer with marketing skills.
- Be action oriented. Use words that show you put your skills to good use, for example, “translated” 30,000 pages for the UN, “created” a translation plan for a Fortune 500 company, etc.
2. Avoid getting too personal
It can be a bit difficult to draw a clear line between your personal and professional life on social media. Even when you try to do so, the lines can be blurry. Therefore, it is difficult to say with certainty what falls under personal content and what meets the threshold of professional content.
Always remember, first and foremost, that LinkedIn is a professional network. So try as much as possible to stick to professional and career-oriented content. It’s easy to get sucked into sharing a bit of our personal journey disguised as relevant career conversation.
Of course, some recruiters would like to know a little more about how your personal background influenced your career path. However, writing about how you took a break to care for your sick grandparents is starting to cross the line. However you want to present it, if your post highlights your personal struggles more and your career less, it probably shouldn’t be on LinkedIn.
However, there are a few exceptions. Recruiters may appreciate reading content about your non-professional interests if it can provide them with relevant information about your personality. For example, talking about your participation in local marathons could help your case if you are selected for a position that requires physical fitness. Likewise, sharing content about volunteering to lead a local charity can help you exaggerate your leadership skills.
The personal content you share should ideally add professional value that is immediately apparent to a recruiter. If you’re in doubt about whether a posting item meets the requirements of professional content, don’t post it.
3. Avoid blind connections
Having lots of connections can help build your LinkedIn profile and professional reputation. However, this will only happen if your connections are relevant and valuable. If you’re sending invites for numbers only, you’re doing it wrong. Indiscriminately connecting with strangers on LinkedIn can hurt you in many ways.
Your LinkedIn timeline reflects the type of connections you have. When a recruiter lands on your profile, they’ll likely be looking at the type of posts you interact with. This is what gives them an idea of your interests and what matters to you. If you’re connected to too many people who aren’t relevant to your industry, you’ll most likely be interacting with content that doesn’t add both apparent and intrinsic value to your timeline.
Additionally, limiting your connection to the most valuable and like-minded people within your industry can dramatically increase your chances of being seen by recruiters. How? ‘Or’ What?
When potential employers search for talent to hire, people in their network are prioritized on search results pages. This includes 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections in that order. This means that if you are part of the network of professionals connected to recruiters, there is a good chance that you will appear in searches whenever these recruiters are looking for talent.
If in doubt about the type of people you should connect with, here is a checklist to guide you.
- Professionals you already know. Maybe people you have worked with or are currently working with.
- Professionals you would like to learn from. These include thought leaders or established talent within your industry.
- People with many key LinkedIn connections within your industry.
- Prospects or people with potential within your industry.
- Close friends or relatives of professional value.
4. Avoid showboating
LinkedIn is one of the best professional platforms to promote your skills. It’s the perfect place to sell yourself and lay the groundwork for important career changes.
Unfortunately, many users tend to lean more towards showboating rather than showing off their abilities. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two. However, how a potential employer perceives your attempt at self-promotion depends on a few key presentation details.
Stay modest and treat every post like an interview when promoting on LinkedIn. It means:
- Your choice of words is very important. Avoid words that focus too much on positive labels or qualifiers that put too much emphasis on your status or accomplishments.
- Recognize team members in team accomplishments; a link to their profiles in your post is a good idea.
- Focus on the hard work involved. “I didn’t sweat to do this. It was very easy,” may sound arrogant. “My team worked hard to achieve this” sounds more appealing.
- Don’t put others down to highlight your accomplishments. “No one at XYZ Company is as good at documentation as I am” won’t elevate you; instead, your post will be seen as mean and dismissive. Avoid comparison in your LinkedIn articles.
- When talking about your accomplishments, try to keep them in a relevant context. Always subtly present to the audience a reason to talk about your success.
- Always focus on what your audience can gain from your skills and accomplishments. It can be industry insights, best practices, or valuable tips. This will demonstrate your subject matter expertise and your willingness to share your knowledge rather than just show off.
- When presenting a successful project, try to back it up with evidence. Back up any claims you make with appropriate statistics and evidence.
If a recruiter feels like you’re bragging, even with legitimate success, you could be inadvertently demarketing yourself. However, don’t let the fear of coming across as a braggart get you down. Instead, take ownership for your successes and be as professional as possible.
5. Avoid underlining your experience wrongly
The way you showcase your experience on LinkedIn can either diminish or boost your career progress. Don’t underestimate yourself; be careful how you highlight your work experience. Here are the key points to consider:
- Your work experience is not limited to 9-5 jobs. Your experience in volunteer jobs, freelance gigs, and one-time contracts can add tremendous value to your profile.
- If you’ve held multiple positions at the same company, it’s a good idea to list them all, especially if it highlights your career progression.
- Always provide an overview of what your job entails when listing your work experience. However, avoid words like “I was responsible for,” “my work included,” or other variations that sound like a boring list of responsibilities. Instead, use powerful words like grown, managed, led, steered, or reduced. These action-oriented words better highlight the actions you have taken and the value you have created in your previous jobs.
Make LinkedIn work for you
Making LinkedIn work for you comes down to a few salient details. Get it right, and LinkedIn could be a launch pad for your career success.
Do things the wrong way and you could hurt your career progress.
If you’re looking to get the most out of LinkedIn, you’ll want to avoid these pitfalls.
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