By Laura Smith-Proulx
LinkedIn—that all-purpose gathering place for professionals, recruiters, and employers—allows you to converse with like-minded experts in your field, learn about industry-specific topics and events, post resume information, and send private messages to employers in hopes of securing that perfect job.
However, if you’re divulging too-personal details, or letting others have uncomfortably close insight into your job search, it can take longer to find a suitable job, or you can be blacklisted entirely by recruiters.
If you’ve started to confuse LinkedIn connections for your Facebook friends, it’s time to take a step back and consider whether you’re harming your job search.
Here are signs that you’re wading too deep into personal territory on LinkedIn:
Posting negative comments about your job search in a LinkedIn Group.
While it’s perfectly normal to be frustrated with a job search that’s taking too long, LinkedIn is not the place to blow off steam about prospective employers, HR contacts, or recruiters.
Yet, you can peruse Groups forums and find this type of activity nearly every day, with disgruntled professionals posting information about negative exchanges with employers, and the occasional rant against a particular hiring manager.
It may seem as if Group communities are locked down, but the reality is different: many Group leaders allow their forums to be visible to all LinkedIn users.
In other words, nearly everyone on LinkedIn (and that means practically anyone interested in hiring you!), can read what you’ve said… and use it against you in a job search.
Therefore, you’ll benefit from limiting your Group Q&A to either lively feedback on professional concerns facing your industry (a great way to become well-known), or innocuous feedback on most other issues.
Issuing Status Updates that are unrelated to your professional image.
One of the best ways to “promote” your professional standing, LinkedIn Status Updates are a great opportunity to publicize professional achievements.
However, this stream of activity is sometimes mistaken for Twitter, where notices are constantly posted that are of minimal news value to readers (such as weather updates or notes on what restaurant to frequent).
What you may not realize is that a Status Update stays on your Profile in a semi-permanent fashion – making last week’s comment on the Presidential race this week’s advertisement of your political affiliation.
Here’s how it works: Updates are shown in a headline fashion to viewers of your Profile, scrolling through in what looks like a transient fashion for about a week, or until another update has been issued. They are then relegated to a news feed shown in another area of your Profile.
So, how should you use Status Updates in a job search? Instead of viewing them as the equivalent of a conversation, think of this feature as a way to make a proclamation related to your professional life.
Your Updates could include comments on a book you’ve read related to your industry, a note on a professional conference you plan to attend, or information on your latest career win (such as a promotion).
The overall idea with a Status Update is to enhance others’ perceptions of what interests you professionally… with the advantage of displaying it on your Profile for visitors to see.