6 LinkedIn Errors To Avoid At All Costs
If you’re using LinkedIn to broaden your professional network or find a new job, here’s are a few LinkedIn errors you need to avoid
LinkedIn has become the go-to social media platform for networking and job-hunting.
If you’re an active LinkedIn user, you’ll know how important it can be for fostering and sustaining professional connections, as well as keeping an eye out for new opportunities. Be sure to check out our LinkedIn career advice about how to get the most from the platform.
Poor LinkedIn etiquette, however, can be detrimental to your career profile, and may lose you more connections than it gains you. Here are a few LinkedIn errors to avoid at all costs.
1. Avoid arguments and potentially offensive posts
Part of sustaining an active presence on LinkedIn is engaging with other users and even commenting on their posts and activity. It is important, however, to draw a line about what is acceptable to post or comment.
This includes getting into arguments on other people’s posts, one of the major LinkedIn errors. For one, consider the image you give off if you are constantly engaging argumentatively with what people post. Even if you do see something that you disagree with, it’s important that any response is measured and respectful.
“Be respectful of other people's views. You shouldn't be the one going out there making comments that could offend,” insists Tom Lawrance (pictured right), head of careers services at Said Business School at the University of Oxford.
You should also try to avoid things that may be politically controversial, even if these are strongly held beliefs. Consider whether this is something you’d happily state in the workplace or at a professional event.
“You need to use judgement and common sense to think about where to draw the line,” Tom adds.
2. Don’t brag about or exaggerate your achievements
One top piece of advice for LinkedIn is to be authentic: this includes posting things you’re interested in, as well as relevant accomplishments in your life or career. What you should try to avoid, however, is overexaggerating or bragging about your own achievements.
Things like posting your salary in your bio, how much you sold your last company for, or overambitious promises about what you can achieve if you’re hired: these can all appear a bit showy, and will make you seem inauthentic and maybe even deluded.
Even worse would be exaggerating or lying about your achievements. You may not think so, but this will be obvious and easily verified by recruiters, who will certainly not be impressed when they find out you never sold your imaginary startup to Google at the age of 16.
3. Don’t adopt a scattergun approach to job hunting
The LinkedIn Jobs tab can be a useful forum for spotting new opportunities. But be careful how you approach searching for jobs here: applying for too many may actually harm your chances of getting employed.
Research by emlyon business school found that people who excessively use LinkedIn to apply for jobs actually fare worse. This is on account of a scatter-gun approach of applying to as many roles as possible in the hope that some of them will get back.
“There is less chance of identifying those jobs that suit them best and they have less time to prepare their application well to maximise their chances to succeed,” says Nikos Bozionelos, professor of international human resources management at emlyon.
4. Avoid business jargon and cliches
“Proven visionary.” “Jack of all trades and a master of each.” “I eat flexible for breakfast.”
These are just a few examples of the business jargon you might read on LinkedIn posts or profiles. Just as phrases like ‘blue-sky thinking’ and ‘giving it 110%’ have been banished from the boardroom, it’s best to try and avoid fleshing out your LinkedIn profile with cliches and gambits designed to make you look more impressive.
Recruiters will have seen it all, and will think you’re trying to hide something by using unnecessarily flowery language.
Instead, try to talk about yourself and your strengths more candidly and honestly. State things clearly and plainly, rather than using confusing metaphors or analogies to describe them.
5. Don’t ‘carpet bomb’ for connections
LinkedIn is a very important tool for expanding your network. As well as sustaining old connections, you can use it to make new connections: perhaps someone whose profiles you’re interested in, or who works at a company you’re interested in applying for.
What you shouldn’t do is randomly send out connection requests without thought or reason. “Don't carpet bomb 100 people asking them to connect and then get fed up when no one replies to any connection,” explains Margaret O’Neill (pictured right), head of careers services at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School.
You should avoid using the same formulaic approach when messaging everyone. Instead, try and tailor it specifically to that person.
“It needs to be a conversation like it would be in person. Show that you're really interested in that person for something specific, whether it's a common school or a common hobby, or even a shared article that you've read,” Margaret says.
6. Don’t be too personal
Be careful not to mistake authenticity for being overly personal. While it might be okay to post a photo of your pets or a meal you’ve made on Facebook or Instagram, these posts might not be so appropriate on LinkedIn.
“I would always think about it as the place where you need to be conscious of your professional brand. So anything that doesn't align with that professional brand or image that you'd want to convey I would not post on LinkedIn,” says Bryn Panee Burkhart, senior associate director of alumni career services at MIT Sloan School of Management.
This all goes back to remembering that LinkedIn is a professional forum. Ultimately, anything that you comment, post, or share on there should reflect the image you want to give off as a professional, especially if you’re looking to stand out to new employers. If you get this right, then you’ll be richly rewarded.