29 Biggest LinkedIn Mistakes

by Meg Guiseppi on March 28, 2011

Linkedin

[UPDATE – July 2013: LinkedIn continuously tweaks its appearance, features and functionality. Some of the features mentioned here may no longer be in use. Check out my recent 3-part series of posts, How to Use the New LinkedIn for Executive Personal Branding.]

You put up a LinkedIn profile a while ago because, if you’re in executive job search or expect to be, people told you it’s the thing to do. But nothing, or very little, is happening.

Recruiters and employers sourcing candidates aren’t contacting you. LinkedIn isn’t helping you accelerate your job search, like everyone told you.

Are you doing something wrong? Could be.

More than a year ago, I wrote the post The 20 Most Common LinkedIn Mistakes on my Executive Resume Branding blogsite. It has become one of the most visited and re-tweeted posts I’ve ever written.

Now I’ve taken a second look at it, updated some items, and added a few to reflect some newer features, and come up with 29 mistakes I see executive job seekers making with LinkedIn.

Are you missing out on opportunities because you’re making mistakes like these?

BUILDING YOUR PROFILE

1. Not personalizing your LinkedIn public profile URL. Many people leave the default mess of letters and numbers at the end of the URL. Unless your LinkedIn URL has been in circulation for a while, change it to “yourname” or as close to it as you can come, as I did with mine – http://www.linkedin.com/in/megguiseppi

2. Not reinforcing your executive brand and ROI value to your target employers throughout your profile. Use material from your branded resume and career biography to build out your profile. These two posts will help, How to Write An Irresistible C-level Executive Brand Resume in 10 Steps and How to Write a C-level Executive Career Brand Biography

3. Not using the Box.net Files application to add your resume and biography (and other career documents) to your profile. Once your documents are added, you can easily share the files with anyone.

4. Not including a photo. Branding and career marketing are about creating emotional connections. People believe content more when it’s accompanied by the author’s photo. An online profile with no photo is a missed opportunity to reinforce your brand and engage people.

5. Not adding links to websites or web pages. Include up to 3 links to your website, blog, VisualCV, or other online profiles, or white papers/articles you’ve written, so people can get more on-brand information about you and see what else you’re up to.

6. Not having a searchable professional headline that brands your unique ROI value and resonates with your target audience. Make sure your relevant key word phrases show up in your headline so that recruiters and hiring decision makers sourcing top candidates by searching keywords on LinkedIn will find you. More in my post, How Recruiters and Employers Find Candidates on LinkedIn.

7. Having no (or only 1 or 2) recommendations. Ask the right people for recommendations that reinforce your brand and the best you have to offer.

8. Not immediately generating chemistry in the Summary section with value proposition and differentiating positioning statements. Capture attention above the fold and convince people to continue reading down through your entire profile. Include big numbers and brand names of your companies and customers. Monetize the impact you made to bottom line.

9. Not including your “Interests” in the Additional Information section at the bottom of your profile. Talk briefly about your passions here and further generate chemistry to help hiring professionals get a feel for what kind of person you are. Writing a brief bit about your favorite hobbies may attract those who share the same ones. Grab a paragraph or two from your career biography that describe your community involvement.

10. Not adding a stand-alone section to highlight skills, publications, certifications, languages, or patents. Earlier this year, LinkedIn rolled out a new feature allowing you to better showcase specific accomplishments in movable blocks, so you can position them wherever you want. In “Edit profile” mode, click on “Add sections”, located right above your “summary” section.

11. Not proofreading and re-proofreading and having someone else proofread your profile for typos and grammatical errors.

12. Not having a 100% complete profile. When your profile is 100% complete, according to LinkedIn’s standards, the chances of your profile rising toward the top of LinkedIn searches greatly improves.

Here’s what you need to be 100% complete:

  • A current position
  • Two past positions
  • Education
  • Profile summary
  • A profile photo
  • Specialties
  • At least three recommendations

Update:  Early in 2012, LinkedIn changed its criteria for profiles to be 100% complete.

13. Not including your Twitter @username. If you’re even fairly active on Twitter, let people know that you’re there, and social media savvy. You’re Twitter “handle” will sit towards the top of your profile, in the section just above “Summary”. You may also want to add in your Twitter stream, using the “Tweets” application.

LEVERAGING YOUR LINKEDIN MEMBERSHIP

14. Not updating your profile regularly. Post status updates every week (more if you can), or at least a few times a month, as one way to stay top of mind with your network and let them know what you’re up to. If you’re on Twitter, adding the “#in” hashtag to tweets will insert them as LinkedIn updates, too. See my post, Update Your LinkedIn Network.

15. Neglecting LinkedIn Groups. Join appropriate groups, listen to what people are saying, participate in discussions, and start your own conversations. Post articles and information that will be helpful to members. Add value by contributing your subject matter expertise. See my post, Power Your Executive Brand with LinkedIn Groups.

16. Inviting people you don’t know, or barely know, to join your LinkedIn network. They may be annoyed by this, and you’ll run the risk of them reporting you as spam.

17. Automatically accepting invitations to join someone’s LinkedIn network. Look at their profile first and make sure you should connect with them.

18. Not personalizing the default invitation to connect message. Change the “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message when you send out invitations. Let people know how you know them, or why you admire them, or how you can help each other.

19. Asking for a favor with your LinkedIn invitation, especially if it’s someone you don’t know or barely know. Please! How do YOU feel when someone does this to you – out of the blue asks you to make an introduction or help them with something? Good networking is all about giving value first to get value.

20. Not including a link to your LinkedIn profile within your email signature.

21. Promoting yourself too heavily in LinkedIn Groups. You can easily turn people off and make them want to ignore you.

22. Not writing recommendations for others. Doing so makes it much more likely that they’ll write one for you. And your recommendations on other people’s profiles includes a link to your profile, offering you more exposure. Read more in my post, How to Get the Best LinkedIn Recommendations.

23. Not researching the LinkedIn company profiles of your target companies. See if your current and former companies have one and if companies of interest to you have one. Find out which co-workers on your company’s profile are busy on LinkedIn and connect with the ones you know. Research other companies’ profiles for market intelligence and due diligence.

24. Not following your target companies on LinkedIn. By setting up “follows” for your target companies, you’ll receive email updates on their new developments, business opportunities, and jobs. Read more in my post, Using LinkedIn’s Company Follow.

25. Not checking out the LinkedIn company profiles of your current and former employers. Look for the co-workers you know, connect with them, see what LinkedIn Groups they belong to and join if they’re right for you, and reach out to them to help when you can.

26. Overlooking the LinkedIn Jobs tab. LinkedIn brings together many job postings – some are exclusive listings. Your target companies may have posted a job that’s a good fit for you, or they can provide market intelligence and information on their hiring practices.

27. Not diving into LinkedIn Answers. Ask questions and provide answers within your areas of expertise. Position yourself as a subject matter expert. LinkedIn Answers are open to public search, so contributing here can build up quality search results for “your name”.

28. Not using the other LinkedIn applications. Check them out and see which ones apply to you. If you blog, you really should add the applicable blog application.

29. Not getting involved with LinkedIn if you’re employed and searching undercover. If you’re concerned that you’ll be found out, don’t be afraid to update and fully complete your profile, and get active. LinkedIn is an accepted career management best practice, and an important way to stay proactive with networking, as career insurance, even when you’re not looking. Read more in my post, LinkedIn: Best Tactic for Undercover Executive Job Search.

Related posts:

LinkedIn Guide for Executive Branding and Job Search

10 Steps to an Authentic, Magnetic Personal Brand

Ebook – “23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land

16 Deadly Executive Job Search Mistakes

photo by Coletivo Mambembe

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi January 28, 2012 at 9:40 am

Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Anneliz. You’ve made my day!

I’m glad to know my post will be helpful. Please feel free to pass it on to others.

Best,
Meg

2 Meg Guiseppi January 28, 2012 at 9:40 am

Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Anneliz. You’ve made my day!

I’m glad to know my post will be helpful. Please feel free to pass it on to others.

Best,
Meg

3 Anneliz Hannan January 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Meg:

The best advice I have read to date and I have been taking every webinar and reading every document of ‘how to’ I can get my hands on. This will be a tremendous help

4 Anneliz Hannan January 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Meg:

The best advice I have read to date and I have been taking every webinar and reading every document of ‘how to’ I can get my hands on. This will be a tremendous help

5 Meg Guiseppi July 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Gosh, Garrick, aren’t you nice! Thanks for writing such a lovely comment, and making my day!

6 Meg Guiseppi July 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Gosh, Garrick, aren’t you nice! Thanks for writing such a lovely comment, and making my day!

7 Garrick Weaver July 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Probably the best brief article on what to do when looking to build your “employment brand” ever written. Quick read… and a must read

8 Meg Guiseppi April 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Christine, #18 on my list is definitely a biggie for me too. Good luck checking off each of those 14 to-do’s on your list!

Thanks for commenting,
Meg

9 Meg Guiseppi April 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Christine, #18 on my list is definitely a biggie for me too. Good luck checking off each of those 14 to-do’s on your list!

Thanks for commenting,
Meg

10 Meg Guiseppi April 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Ellyn, I’m glad I could make you work even harder on your LinkedIn profile. I hope you see improved results because of it!

Thanks for commenting,
Meg

11 Meg Guiseppi April 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Ellyn, I’m glad I could make you work even harder on your LinkedIn profile. I hope you see improved results because of it!

Thanks for commenting,
Meg

12 Christine Ordze April 4, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thanks to your post I have 14 items added to my “to-do” list. As I read it I thought of many violations from fellow Linkedin users, namely #18 which is worse than auto reply on Twitter!
Great advice that more people should be aware of.
Thanks for posting!

13 Christine Ordze April 4, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thanks to your post I have 14 items added to my “to-do” list. As I read it I thought of many violations from fellow Linkedin users, namely #18 which is worse than auto reply on Twitter!
Great advice that more people should be aware of.
Thanks for posting!

14 Ellyn Collins April 4, 2011 at 10:19 am

Hi Meg,
I thought I had maxed out my LinkedIn profile until I read your post.

Thank you for the great information.

15 Meg Guiseppi April 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

Using that default invitation to connect is also one of my pet peeves. But you’re right, many people just don’t know enough to personalize it.

Thanks in advance for sharing the link to the post anywhere you feel it will be helpful to people. As long as you don’t duplicate the content on another site, I’d be thrilled if you spread the word.

I appreciate your comments!

Best,
Meg

16 Meg Guiseppi April 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

Using that default invitation to connect is also one of my pet peeves. But you’re right, many people just don’t know enough to personalize it.

Thanks in advance for sharing the link to the post anywhere you feel it will be helpful to people. As long as you don’t duplicate the content on another site, I’d be thrilled if you spread the word.

I appreciate your comments!

Best,
Meg

17 Kristin Johnson April 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

Thank you, Meg, for this list! It is fantastic. I will be sharing this over and over again with my clients. I’d like to it in a blog post I’m writing on LinkedIn right now, if that is OK.

I think one of my biggest online pet peeves is when people do not make the invitation to connect on LinkedIn more personal. When I get one of these in my Inbox, I have to take a deep, cleansing breath and remind myself that people just don’t know. I didn’t at one point. So, I just try not to hold it against them. But, I will spread the word that you should put some thought into your invitation.

Again, awesome article!

18 Kristin Johnson April 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

Thank you, Meg, for this list! It is fantastic. I will be sharing this over and over again with my clients. I’d like to it in a blog post I’m writing on LinkedIn right now, if that is OK.

I think one of my biggest online pet peeves is when people do not make the invitation to connect on LinkedIn more personal. When I get one of these in my Inbox, I have to take a deep, cleansing breath and remind myself that people just don’t know. I didn’t at one point. So, I just try not to hold it against them. But, I will spread the word that you should put some thought into your invitation.

Again, awesome article!

19 Meg Guiseppi April 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

Thanks for your comment, Bill.

Whether or not it is wise to include a photo on one’s LinkedIn profile has been an ongoing discussion among careers industry professionals for years. Many feel as you do, that a photo can lead to discrimination.

However, given today’s job search landscape, impacted by the critical need for a strong online presence, many more of us feel that the benefits of including a photo (outlined in my post) far outweigh the negatives.

Of course, the decision to include or not include a photo is an entirely personal one. You must do whatever you are most comfortable with.

Best,
Meg

20 Meg Guiseppi April 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

Thanks for your comment, Bill.

Whether or not it is wise to include a photo on one’s LinkedIn profile has been an ongoing discussion among careers industry professionals for years. Many feel as you do, that a photo can lead to discrimination.

However, given today’s job search landscape, impacted by the critical need for a strong online presence, many more of us feel that the benefits of including a photo (outlined in my post) far outweigh the negatives.

Of course, the decision to include or not include a photo is an entirely personal one. You must do whatever you are most comfortable with.

Best,
Meg

21 Bill Smith March 31, 2011 at 2:04 pm

One of the reasons we don’t put photos on résumés because it provokes premature discrimination. Why isn’t anyone address this on LinkedIn?

For a long time, I resisted putting my photo in my LinkedIn profile for the same reason. I would prefer that employers see my qualifications first and what I look like second.

22 Meg Guiseppi March 30, 2011 at 10:22 am

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Roland, and for passing along this post. I’m honored that you think it has such value.

Sometimes people can relate better to information that comes as a list of “Don’ts”, as opposed to “How-to’s”. I hope this helped you, and will benefit those with whom you share it.

Best,
Meg

23 Meg Guiseppi March 30, 2011 at 10:22 am

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Roland, and for passing along this post. I’m honored that you think it has such value.

Sometimes people can relate better to information that comes as a list of “Don’ts”, as opposed to “How-to’s”. I hope this helped you, and will benefit those with whom you share it.

Best,
Meg

24 Roland Teigen March 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Meg,

What a great summary of things that so many would overlook–thank you for providing this as a public service. Branding oneself is a skill, attitude or mindset that clearly has to be learned for those who don’t have a marketing background. I too will be sharing this with a number of people who have newly joined LinkedIn. Well done.

Roland

25 Meg Guiseppi March 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

You’re too kind, Michelle! What a lovely compliment, although I doubt my post covered as much as your formal training materials do.

You’ve made my day!

Best,
Meg

26 Meg Guiseppi March 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

You’re too kind, Michelle! What a lovely compliment, although I doubt my post covered as much as your formal training materials do.

You’ve made my day!

Best,
Meg

27 Meg Guiseppi March 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Well, thank you so much, Michelle! I appreciate you taking the time to post a comment.

Best,
Meg

28 Michelle Morettini March 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Meg,

This is awesome advice. I do a series of webinars on LinkedIn and you have managed to distill all of the training materials into one quick post. Thank you for sharing! You are always good for some gems!

Michelle

29 Michelle Morettini March 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Meg,

This is awesome advice. I do a series of webinars on LinkedIn and you have managed to distill all of the training materials into one quick post. Thank you for sharing! You are always good for some gems!

Michelle

30 Michelle Daugherty March 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Awesome article! Thank you!

31 Michelle Daugherty March 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Awesome article! Thank you!

32 Meg Guiseppi March 29, 2011 at 8:55 am

How kind of you to pass this post along to others, Jayne! I hope it helps them, and you.

Thanks for commenting,
Meg

33 Meg Guiseppi March 29, 2011 at 8:55 am

How kind of you to pass this post along to others, Jayne! I hope it helps them, and you.

Thanks for commenting,
Meg

34 Jayne L. Wells March 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Meg,
Thank you for sharing your insight.
I have shared this article with many of my LinkedIn groups.
Best Wishes, Jayne

35 Jayne L. Wells March 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Meg,
Thank you for sharing your insight.
I have shared this article with many of my LinkedIn groups.
Best Wishes, Jayne

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