While there’s nothing wrong with finding the perfect Facebook profile picture or the most clever status for Twitter, when it comes to professional networking LinkedIn is the social networking site that counts. Forbes reports that the site hosts over 150 million people on the search for jobs, networking and business opportunities. Looking fly and showing off are cool for Facebook and Twitter, but honesty is the best policy for LinkedIn. Forbes gives a list of some of the top mistakes people tend to make on LinkedIn that prevent them for using the site to its full potential.
As honesty is the best policy, it’s obvious that you shouldn’t lie. The LinkedIn community is much smaller than you think. If you lie, you will be caught. Don’t lie about your education level. A recruiter may have gone to the school you’re claiming. Don’t lie or over-emphasize your skills. When a recruiter attempts to put them to the test and they don’t measure up, it may be awkward. And don’t say you’ve worked for a company or with someone that you haven’t.
Photos are another big mistake people tend to make. Profiles that lack photos are missing out on opportunity as profiles with photos are viewed seven times more often than ones with a blank box. Social media experts agree that a blank box creates a sense of distrust. Although recruiters would never say they hire on looks, they do make judgments when there is nothing at all. Not only is not having a photo a big mistake, having the wrong type of photo is also a big faux-pas. As with the no photo, a deceiving photo also leads to mistrust.
“I see it especially in women,” Nicole Williams, the Connection Director for LinkedIn tells Forbes. “It’s easy to choose a photo of ourselves at our best so it makes sense that a woman might use a photo of herself ten years younger.”
Next is the “looking for job opportunities option.” Many people choose this when they first signed up for LinkedIn and are wondering why they’re getting requests when they are happily employed. Others may be wondering why they aren’t getting any feedback; perhaps they should check this option.
The LinkedIn headline is very important. Leaving it as simply your title does a disservice to your job search. Make the most of your 120 characters and find a creative headline that is very clear about what you do and who you are.
Recommendations are important so make sure to add some to your profile. Please, don’t make a recommendation request as soon as you connect to someone on linked in. Tell them what they hope they’ll say about you and the type of position you hope to get.
Don’t think too small. If you are an entry level recruit at a company and you hope to add the CEO or president to your contacts, don’t be afraid to make the attempt. Put together a thoughtful personalized request that introduces yourself and what you’d like to learn from that person. If they accept, you’ve got a big name as one of your contacts which can make a huge difference in the professional realm.
Lastly, a desperate plea out into the cyber world isn’t always a bad idea. While it’s an idea that you probably don’t want to use all of the time, if you’re recently lost your job, it may be a bold and effective move. Social media expert Joshua Waldman encouraged a friend who had been out of work for three months to reflect his unemployed status. In seven days he had almost 20 messages, most of which were legitimate job leads.