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Nov 22

Category: Career Advice, Job Search

You’ve finally filled out your LinkedIn profile — summary section and all. You’ve updated your experience, had a second person review for typos, and finally found a professional photo that you haven’t had to crop to within an inch of its life.

Now you can just sit back and wait for the new connections to roll and the job offers to come calling, right? Not so fast! LinkedIn is a big network. That means that getting the most out of it requires a little more than just pasting your CV, however perfectly, online.

If you’re looking to use LinkedIn to network and advertise yourself to recruiters and future employers successfully then it means doing more online. Just make sure you don’t get caught out by these six all-too-common mistakes.

#1. Not actively seeking out recommendations

LinkedIn’s recommendations feature is one the best ways to move your profile away from being just an online CV, and toward being a comprehensive introduction to your professional life. It’s shockingly underused, though.

Its underuse is odd because, let’s be honest, if we’re looking at two similarly qualified and experienced individuals, but one has half a dozen stellar recommendations from former bosses and colleagues, we’re choosing the latter.

Don’t be embarrassed about asking for recommendations. Nine times out 10, a polite message that that is both appreciative and acknowledging of the of the recommender’s time will result in a recommendation. Afraid to ask your former manager? An endorsement from an indirect supervisor or a colleague will often work just as well.

#2. You haven’t created a unique LinkedIn URL

It’s increasingly common these days to place the URL of your LinkedIn profile on your CV, application, or cold email to a prospective employer. By default, LinkedIn gives a long and complicated unique address for your profile that’s full of numbers and dashes.

That looks pretty bad — especially if you’re claiming to be a digital marketing guru. Fortunately, it takes just a moment to create a personalised URL. Just click on the gear symbol beside your LinkedIn URL when your profile is in edit mode (it’s beneath your profile image). Choose something professional, ideally based on your name.

#3. You’re not personalising your connection requests

When you click to add someone to your network LinkedIn will automatically populate your request with ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network’. That’s really just there to prevent people sending out blank requests rather than as an acceptable way to connect with people.

If you’re reaching out to people in your niche (hint: you should be), then personalising this message is vital. Careers writer Sara McCord suggests writing a couple of sentences that answer the questions ‘Who are you? How did you find me? Why do you want to connect?’.

#4. You’re over-using the anonymity feature

LinkedIn is unique among the main social networks in the way it reports to users who has visited their profile. That leads some users, to avoid publicly owning up to having taken a look, to set their privacy settings to anonymous.

However, it’s a solid rule in all aspects of life to avoid being a stalker. Most of the time, LinkedIn is no exception. As a general rule keep your visibility public and stick to checking out the profiles of people in your niche with some relevance to your sector and your career.

There are a few instances where privacy can be justified. For example, if you’re preparing for an interview and you want to look at the experiences and backgrounds of your future colleagues or to check out the credentials of your interviewers.

#5. You haven’t added any additional profile sections

You should think about your LinkedIn profile as the result you want people to see when they Google you. In that spirit, make sure you use all possible opportunities to present yourself in the best light.

One way to do this is by expanding your profile beyond just a summary of your work and educational experience with additional sections. LinkedIn provides optional spaces to add details of foreign language skills, volunteering experiences, and organisational memberships. If you’ve got skills applicable to these parts, then add them in!

#6. You haven’t carefully considered your keywords

Let’s be immediately clear what we’re saying here: do not stuff your profile with keywords in ways that make reading it next to impossible. To appear in relevant search results and maintain a readable profile requires a little effort.

While this is a process that will come naturally to seasons content marketers and SEO professionals, for the rest of us it might take some careful consideration. You can make a good start by reviewing job adverts and descriptions in your sector (or desired sector), matching up the words and passages that appear with your skills, and re-using similar phrases in your profile.

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Avoid these commons LinkedIn errors, and you’ll be well on your way. Looking for more career related tips and advice? Head over to 3Search.co.uk.