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Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Guide to Job Hunting – 8 LinkedIn mistakes that can scupper your job search

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For most professions, having a positive online professional profile is very important. And until someone discovers something better, the best place to go to build one is LinkedIn.

If you have a profile on LinkedIn already, very good! But you should have already created one of those years ago. If you haven’t, you should Google around for some tips and tricks for building a great page.

This is about using your profile correctly — and to your advantage. Because in the corporate world, people read between the lines. So here are the top eight things you might be doing on LinkedIn that could shoot you in the foot:

1. You don’t have any recommendations. 

If a hiring manager is scoping out your LinkedIn profile and doesn’t see a recommendation, they might think, “Hmm…no one likes their work,” or “They must not have impressed anyone,” or even, “Umm, this is a dud networker.”

The Fix: Get some recommendations, now!  Send out a request for a recommendation to at least five people you’ve worked with or currently work with (check your company policy). You’ll be surprised at how willing, honest and complementary people will be of your work (granted, that’s if you’ve impressed them in the past – I don’t recommend you sending a request to an enemy).

2.  You get a flood of recommendations. 

One word: Shady! If you get loads of recommendations at once, everyone is going to know you’re looking for a job. More often than not, job searching occurs under the radar. Well, broadcasting a bunch of recommendations all at the same time is the complete opposite of that.

The Fix: So now you’re thinking, “I need recommendations to get a job, but you’re telling me not to get a bunch of them!” The trick is to always be looking for recommendations, as you go along your daily routines. If you’ve done great work for a client, ask them for a recommendation via LinkedIn as soon as the project is completed. If you leave a job for another, ask your former colleagues to give you a nod. There are lots of ways and reasons to get recommendations, but take it one step at a time rather than create a deluge.

3. You lie. 

This one is pretty self-explanatory, and yet, for some it’s hard to follow. In all business settings, if you lie, you will eventually get caught. Your LinkedIn profile should reflect your CV, and vice versa. Anything different is a massive faux pas.
The Fix: The best fix to this one is to just simply not to do it. Ever.

4. You flirt. 

Even if you craft a message that would blow even Shakespeare out of the water (although, it’s questionable why you would choose that route), you probably won’t get a call back. If people are serious about being on the site for business purposes, you will have a hard time chipping away at that. In simpler terms, don’t be a creep. And ladies, mind those photos! Don’t go for the pimped up party outfit with pouty lips picture. If you look serious and businesslike, that is how you will be treated. Business and personal should definitely not mix on your online profiles!

The Fix: Take your party elsewhere. If you see someone on LinkedIn that you find attractive, find another way. Or connect to them and actually be professional enough to strike up a real networking relationship.  There are better places to go to find someone to date.

5. You don’t describe your job. 

“Specialist.” “Consultant” “Professional” – Semantic words that mean so many different things. And when you don’t describe it, nobody will have an idea what you’re talking about or what you do every day. The main point here is that you don’t want a blank screen because it doesn’t help you at all.

The Fix: So how best to share details about your experience? Some may say it is ok to list job titles only, and then put the description in the summary at the top of the overall profile. Some would argue that it is best to describe each job in detail. Either way, you just have to make sure people actually understand what you do and what you achieve.

6. You don’t post a picture.

This is not a beauty contest. But a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. We’re not going to judge you, we just want transparency from you. If visuals weren’t important in the business world, you would get every job by simply going through a telephone interview. LinkedIn is very much the same. Because it has the photo feature, you should be using it. We want to see who we are working with, networking with and introducing ourselves to.

The Fix: Ask a talented amateur photographer friend to snap a few pictures of you. Trust me, they’ll be more than willing and you’ll reap the rewards. While you’re at it, go ahead and use those pictures to create an page. It’s a lesser-known site, but one where you can make some great connections while also showing off a bit more personal flair than LinkedIn will allow.

7. You don’t have any “stuff.

You don’t need tons of medals, awards and lots of extra-curricular activities, but it helps add a little personality to you if you’ve got some extra “stuff” listed in your profile. Everyone has something they can add to their profile, a hobby, an award they’ve won, school organization they led, and so on. But put something there. Make sure all the available content is used up. It makes you look like a rounded human being.

The Fix: This one is easy. Show that you’re human and that you enjoy life. List any awards you’ve won at work and any professional affiliations you may have. Then join a few LinkedIn groups, start a few discussions and get active. LinkedIn is an amazing way to network if you take advantage of its offerings.

8. You change your profile entirely. 

This falls in line with the recommendations. If you’re making massive changes to your LinkedIn profile all at once, any tech-savvy employer will get suspicious. What’s worse, is that anyone you’re linked up to will get a notification that you’ve changed your profile drastically – so everyone will wonder what is going on!

The Fix: Don’t do any major fixes to your profile all at once, be strategic about it. Make changes gradually and smartly. I guarantee that there are people who keep an eye on your profile regularly, for many different reasons. If you really are job searching, keep it professional. It will pay off for you.


Written by Cathy Richardson

May 31, 2012 at 9:29 am

Posted in Recruitment

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