Monday, June 17, 2013

The 6 Biggest Mistakes Jobseekers Make on LinkedIn

by Stacy Donovan Zapar

LinkedIn is a fabulous resource for jobseekers everywhere and, when used correctly, can make all the difference in a job search. But if you don’t use LinkedIn effectively, you could be missing out on great opportunities or even do your job search more harm than good.

Here are the biggest mistakes that I see jobseekers make on LinkedIn:

1. Having an Incomplete Profile.

Aside from the obvious disadvantages of looking inactive, unprepared, technically challenged, or worse – lazy!, having an incomplete LinkedIn profile can really hurt you since LinkedIn’s search algorithm sorts results by “relationship” (1st level connections, then 2nd level, 3rd level, group members and everyone else) as well as “profile completeness.” If you want to show up at the top of those search results (and, believe me, you do!), then you need to have a robust network (see #2 below) as well as a complete profile. Being buried on Page 19 of a recruiter’s search is the same as not showing up at all!

To do: Definitely include a profile picture. Customize your headline with something relevant, memorable, and keyword-rich. Include relevant details throughout your profile, making sure to complete each section in its entirety.  Add some of those nifty new visual components to your profile. Make it look nice! What’s the point of creating a LinkedIn profile if employers can’t find you or there’s not much for them to see once they get there? This step is a must.

2. Only Having a Handful of Connections.

Aside from the distinct disadvantages from a search perspective (see #1 above), if you have a small network and aren’t connected to every possible lead, then you are greatly limiting yourself and your networking abilities. Every connection is a potential lead to any number of job possibilities. It’s all “who you know” and, with LinkedIn, you are not only connecting with those people, you are also gaining access to everyone they KNOW and everyone THOSE people know!

To do: Connect with everyone you know, even if it’s just peripherally. This includes friends, family, coworkers past & present, clients past & present, neighbors, professors, classmates, etc. And remember, this isn’t Facebook. It’s not as personal as a Friend Request and it’s perfectly acceptable to connect with business contacts, even if it was a coworker from another department or someone you met once at a conference or networking event. Be strategic and grow your network!

3.  Waiting Until it’s Too Late.

We’ve all seen this one before and it’s probably the Number One Mistake I see jobseekers make. All of sudden, somebody you used to work with has invited you and 85 of your former coworkers to connect on LinkedIn. They’ve gotten 6 recommendations in the last week (yes, those ARE date-stamped). They’re updating their profile, following companies left and right and joining umpteen groups. Ding ding ding! We have a jobseeker! :) It’s painfully obvious what’s going on, whether you’ve gotten a pink slip, seen the writing on the wall or simply decided that you hate your job and can’t work there another day. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t build an engaged LinkedIn network overnight either.

To do: Dig a well before you’re thirsty! Build your network when times are good so that it will be there for you if times get bad. Don’t wait until you’re in need to suddenly engage on LinkedIn and take, take, take… asking everyone for help with job referrals, references, recommendations, etc. Be engaged on LinkedIn beforehand, helping others, giving recommendations, making introductions, giving back. Your network will see how helpful you’ve been and will be that much more receptive to helping you in your hour of need.

Tips 4-6 and the complete article

Stacy Donovan Zapar is a 15-year recruiting veteran and CEO of Tenfold Social, providing social media training for recruiters, jobseekers, and business professionals.  She is the Most Connected Woman on Linkedin, where she has 30,000+ first-level connections making her the #8 most connected person in the world. She served as Technical Editor for Wiley’s LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and is a regularly-featured blog contributor on  Feel free to connect with Stacy on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

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