LinkedIn is growing by leaps and bounds. There is a new user signing up every second! As of this writing there are over 150 million members. Their stock price has been climbing. They had excellent recent financial results. Most career managers and job seekers have realized the importance of LinkedIn. However, there are still misconceptions. Here are four big ones.
Only connect with people you know
LinkedIn repeatedly warns that you should only connect with people you know. Savvy users know this is not the case. Consider the analogy of a pen pal. A pen pal is someone with whom you trade letters over a long distance. After many years you may have a chance to meet your pen pal. Normally this meeting is accompanied by tears of joy and many hours of laughter. That’s because your pen pal has become a close friend, or at a minimum, has become a close acquaintance.
It is the same concept with LinkedIn: if you send a customized invitation to a complete stranger on LinkedIn, there is a great chance that they will accept your invitation. You can then start a networking relationship based on giving. This new connection may eventually turn into a close friend – just like the pen pal!
Your profile is complete when you hit 100%
LinkedIn provides a rudimentary “Completeness” scale on your profile page. Unfortunately, the components that LinkedIn uses to calculate this scale are very, very basic and lulls new members into a fall sense of security. You can read about the details in this official LinkedIn blog post. Don’t be fooled! If you sit back and relax after hitting the 100% mark you are not taking advantage of the power of LinkedIn. Here’s an entire presentation on additional ways that you can fully optimize your LinkedIn profile.
You should use your current job title as your headline
The section magnified above is called your professional headline. Far too often LinkedIn users use this prime real estate for their current job title. This is a huge miss! Why? Because LinkedIn uses a search algorithm (much like Google) to return search results when members (many times recruiters and hiring managers) search for other members. LinkedIn places a lot of search algorithm weighting on the words in your professional headline. Also, every time you make a comment, ask a question or post an update, your professional headline appears. As you can see from the picture above, LinkedIn allows for many more characters in your headline than a typical job title. Use up the character allotment with a strong personal branding statement and key words that will differentiate you from the competition and, if crafted appropriately, will allow you to show up on the first page of LinkedIn search results.
LinkedIn recommendations are meaningless
If written properly, LinkedIn recommendations can play in integral role in your LinkedIn profile, your personal brand and ultimately in your career. After all, what is more powerful: you saying how terrific you are or someone else singing your virtues? Consider a book cover: are you more impressed with the author’s bio or the third party recommendations? The bottom line is that, in most cases, what others say about you has more impact than what you say about yourself. LinkedIn recommendations are important, but how do you go about writing and receiving recommendations to enhance your LinkedIn profile and therefore your personal brand? For a deep dive check out LinkedIn recommendations: love ‘em or leave ‘em?
What are some other LinkedIn misconceptions? Please leave a comment below and/or send me an email.
About the Author
***Download a free copy of Matt’s 70 page eBook, The Royal Wave and Other Strategies for Career Success***
Matthew Levy is a well-rounded HR professional, career coach, keynote speaker and author with fifteen years of broad experience in both specialist (e.g., recruiting) and generalist (e.g., HR business partner) roles at blue-chip companies, including Merck, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson.
Matt is founder and President of a career coaching practice, Corner Office Career Coaching. Matt works one-on-one with professionals, executives and students providing them with customized solutions to their career challenges. As a 20-year corporate HR professional with a large network that has also successfully conducted his own effective, cutting-edge job search, he is well qualified to help others reach their career goals. His job seeker blog has received 50,000 visitors and his articles have been run by nationally recognized job search and career management websites and guides. He also regularly gives speeches on career management and job search.
Matt works full time as a Global HR Lead for Johnson & Johnson. Prior to J&J, Matt relocated his family to Southern California to take a position with Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, where he led the talent acquisition function for Amgen’s commercial operations and corporate staff groups. Before Amgen, Matt spent several years at Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. There, Matt held a variety of positions in both recruiting and generalist capacities.
Matt graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Business Management from Ithaca College. He is an actively engaged member of several professional organizations including the Philadelphia HR Planning Society where he is on the Board of Directors and the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executives Group.
Matt lives in Doylestown, PA with his wife, daughter and son. He jogs through the Bucks County countryside to stay fit.