October 12, 2015

4 Common LinkedIn Mistakes — and How to Fix Them

pugLinkedIn is the No. 1 social networking platform for professionals, but simply creating a LinkedIn profile isn’t enough to reap the benefits of the site. You have to maintain an active presence!

Recruiters will often check a candidate’s LinkedIn profile before even considering them, and if it looks like the user hasn’t been active in a while, there’s a good chance the recruiter will move on to the next candidate. If you don’t keep your LinkedIn profile as professional, complete, and up-to-date as possible, you’re going to miss out on a variety of career opportunities.

To really get the most from this invaluable social media platform, make sure you’re not making any of these four very common LinkedIn mistakes:

1. Outdated Profile Content

Your profile on LinkedIn should mirror your professional resume as closely as possible. You want your skills and responsibilities to be as accurate as possible — even if you aren’t actively searching for a job. Think of LinkedIn as a secondary version of your resume:your LinkedIn profile should always be ready in case a new opportunity comes along.

If your LinkedIn profile is outdated, it can can really throw off hiring managers and recruiters. They won’t get an accurate picture of you, and they may decide you’re not the kind of candidate they want based on incomplete information.

2. Unprofessional Photos

A lot of candidates forego professional photos or headshots in favor of more casual pictures, and some even forego pictures altogether!

The wrong picture — or a lack of a picture — can make you seem unprofessional and ill-prepared for the working world. Many times, that isn’t actually the case, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Your profile photo can send recruiters the wrong message, giving them the false perception that you don’t take your job seriously.

There are other social networking platforms for selfies, glamour shots, and group photos. On LinkedIn, it’s best to stick to legitimate headshots and simple, professional photos.

3. Unrealistic Connections

hallwayYou don’t want to accept every connection request you get. Your connections should be reserved for contacts you have actually worked with, networked with, or know in some professional capacity. LinkedIn connections are all about quality, not quantity.

You shouldn’t be adding or accepting users simply to increase the number of connections in your network. Focus on relevancy. Reach out only to people you currently know, people you want to work with, and influencers within your particular industry.

4. Being Idle

Don’t just put together a LinkedIn profile and forget about it. Use it actively! Follow organizations you admire, research companies, and share valuable, relevant content.

LinkedIn isn’t exclusively for the job search. You should always be engaged with communities that are relevant to your field or related to your interests. Take advantage of these communities and do what you can to learn from others in your industry. Sometimes, the best advice comes from peers.

Also, staying active in these groups is a great way to set yourself up for potential job opportunities. The more prominent your presence is, the more likely someone will be to consider you for a new position opening up at their company or at an organization they’re affiliated with.

The opportunities are endless on LinkedIn — as long as you know how to optimize your profile and use it well. Don’t let any of these simple, avoidable mistakes prevent you from taking advantage of all the platform has to offer. Make sure that your LinkedIn account is as ready for future endeavors as you are.

Read more in Using LinkedIn

Samantha Lambert is the director of human resources at Blue Fountain Media. Blue Fountain Media is a digital agency in NYC that is focused on creative and results-driven solutions for companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 1,000. Sam leads all core HR functions and is an advisor and coach to team members across all departments, teams, and levels.