Past Issues

October 14, 2013

Do's and Don'ts of Using
LinkedIn For Your Job Search

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Using LinkedIn For Your Job Search

By Lisa Jacobson Brown, Senior PR and Community Manager at Pearson Education

1. Do Upload a Professional Picture

This should be self-explanatory, but it is surprising how many starfish, cars, sunflowers, people standing on the beach at sunset, and dogs we witness on LinkedIn profiles. Honestly, who puts a picture of their dog on a professional networking platform? The point of LinkedIn is to further your networking ability online as well as offline. You want people to recognize you when you walk into a networking event. When you have a picture of your dog, that never happens. Upload a professional picture to all platforms you are building your personal brand on, whether that is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or your blog. We know you'll want to be fun and creative on those other sites, but don't do it if you're trying to create a professional image.

2. Do Connect to Your Real Friends and Contacts

Just like we tell children not to talk to strangers, the same applies to your LinkedIn profile. It's crazy to see how many people connect with strangers all over the world because they want to "build up" their network on LinkedIn. Connecting to hundreds of strangers will NOT help your network in LinkedIn.
Remember, the value of LinkedIn comes in the quality of relationships you have, not the quantity. Think of it this way: If you ever have to ask someone for an introduction to someone else, it's rather a big letdown to get a message back that says, "Oh, I don't actually know them; they're just in my huge network." People like this do not provide real value, so don't become one of them.

3. Do Keep Your Profile Current

Let's use an example for this. Erik is hanging out with Kyle, and there is a funky smell coming from somewhere. Kyle asks Erik where that smell is coming from, and Erik nonchalantly says he hasn't changed clothes in three days. Does that change the way Kyle is interacting with Erik? Of course! Just like Erik neglected his appearance, the same concept applies to your LinkedIn profile. If you neglect your profile, people will tend to forget and avoid you.

4. Do Delete People Who Spam You

In life and in LinkedIn, there are bad apples. There are times when contacts or connections abuse the system and spam your Inbox with some new multilevel marketing scheme or a new product or service they're selling. It's polite to ask them to stop and rethink their strategy. They could be new to this, and maybe they made a mistake. But if they continue to abuse your connection, delete them. They're wasting your valuable time by making you wade through their mess. Get rid of them.

5. Do Spend Some Time on Your Summary

Do you ever read an email, newspaper, or blog post when the headline is terrible? Of course not. Your summary has the same effect on your LinkedIn profile. Be extremely concise and specific when writing your summary. Get people excited about reading your profile and connecting with you. Express your personal brand. Express what you are passionate about. It may even be helpful to have a co-worker or close connection review your summary.

6. Don't Use LinkedIn Like Facebook and Twitter

There is a time and place for professional and personal content when building your personal brand. We have discussed the importance of having places for both. LinkedIn is a professional network, and although it is important to share some personal content, don't use LinkedIn as a personal network. That's what Facebook is for.

7. Don't Sync LinkedIn with Twitter

Similarly, don't automatically blend LinkedIn with Twitter. LinkedIn gives you the applications and tools that allow you to connect your account with Twitter, which means whenever you post a message to Twitter, it automatically posts to your status update in LinkedIn. Don't do this. Ever. If you're using Twitter correctly, you're communicating with connections, asking and answering questions, giving shout-outs to people across the country, and even making plans for lunch. People on LinkedIn don't want their feeds disrupted by all your tweets. Remember, too, that not everyone uses Twitter, so your colleagues on LinkedIn may not know how to read some of the special characters and abbreviations on Twitter.

8. Don't Decline Invitations. Archive Them

When a stranger asks you for a connection on LinkedIn, archive the invitation instead of deleting it. There could be a time when you meet this person, and you can refer to the previous invitation to connect with her. When a connection is archived, it's easier to keep track of it.

9. Don't Ask Everyone for Recommendations

There's no hard and fast rule about the number of recommendations you should have. There's no minimum, and some people think there's no maximum. Just remember that not every recommendation is important. You do need to have at least two recommendations to reach 100% completion of your profile, but they need to be valuable recommendations. Here are a couple tips to follow:

  • Make sure you know the person -- This seems obvious, but unfortunately it is not. Basically, if you don't know the person who's asking you for a recommendation, send her a nice note that says, "I don't know you!" You don't need to give a recommendation to someone you don't know; similarly, you don't need to accept one either.

  • Ask your best clients -- Happy clients are the best referral and recommendation source for you. Make a list of 10 people to ask for a recommendation. You don't need 20 or 30 because 10 people talking about you is more than enough to strengthen your LinkedIn profile and build your personal brand.
10. Don't Forget to Use Spelling and Grammar Check

Do you use spelling and grammar check on your resume? The same idea applies to your LinkedIn profile. Remember, your profile is technically a resume, and we've all been taught that our resumes have to be laser perfect. Spell check everything!

By Lisa Jacobson Brown is a Senior PR publicist and community manager at technology imprints of Pearson Education, representing Que Publishing, Sams Publishing, IBM Press, Addison-Wesley Professional, Prentice Hall Professional.

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