A couple of weeks ago, you created a LinkedIn account. You added a picture, threw in a couple of skills like “time management” and “social media,” updated your current job title, sent out a bunch of invites to people that you kinda sorta know and logged off. That’s good for now, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not. We know LinkedIn can be overwhelming. However, since this is a professional site that could really help your career, you want your profile to be just right! Don’t worry, though; we’ve got you covered. Read on for the four deadly LinkedIn sins to avoid when working on your profile!
1. Not filling out your entire profile
Creating a LinkedIn account is pretty quick and simple, but completing your profile takes much more time. “A traditional paper resume is only a page long, so you can only put so much information,” says Lauren Berger, founder of The Intern Queen. “But with LinkedIn, you have the opportunity to include so much more.” So utilize this opportunity! List all of your past experiences, even if you think they’re small in comparison to your future goals. Attach links of your work to your profile. Include all of the skills that you think apply to you and update them regularly.
According to a study by TheLadders, employers spend a mere six seconds looking at your paper resume. However, Berger says that when an employer is reviewing your LinkedIn profile, they’re spending much more than six seconds. Instead, they’re scrolling from top to bottom, looking at each section. “I look at the person’s previous experiences, [I look at] company descriptions and check for any possible connections,” Berger says. “As an employer, if I see that you’ve taken out the time to fill out your profile completely, I’m very impressed.”
2. Not having any endorsements
Endorsements are crucial to having a great LinkedIn profile. Coworkers, classmates, past employers and any other connections you have can endorse your skills. Did you organize a killer semi-formal event for you sorority last spring? Then “event planning” is a great skill to include. However, it looks even better when that skill is endorsed by your chapter president! If you hold leadership roles in multiple organizations, connect with your advisers or organization members to ensure that they’ll endorse your “Leadership” skills. Wouldn’t you rather choose someone whose skills were backed up by multiple sources? That’s exactly what employers use endorsements for.
Need some endorsements? Ask your connections! According to Lauren Berger, students should be actively asking their employers, internship coordinators and other professional contacts for endorsements on LinkedIn. “When you leave an [internship], you should always ask your internship coordinator to give you a few endorsements and to write you a recommendation letter,” says Berger.
Another great way to get some endorsements is to start endorsing your connections. Endorse some of your classmates’ and former co-workers’ skills and, more often than not, they’ll reciprocate!
3. Not joining groups
If you spend a fair amount of your time joining groups and organizations on campus, you should be doing the same on LinkedIn! There are literally hundreds of groups that you can join on LinkedIn that will add some professionalism to your profile and introduce you to more potential contacts. Although some of the groups are private and require the group manager to review your profile, there are even more groups that anyone can join. LinkedIn has added a new function that allows you to look at the homepage of the group and view a few posts before you actually join.
Berger urges that you take advantage of these groups and make your voice heard within them. “Make sure you not only join but are active within those groups,” she advises. “Joining groups are more important in terms of networking for the individual rather than the employer.”
Berger admits that she doesn’t really look at the groups that her potential employees are in. So why is it important to join groups? Connections, of course! Although employers may not look at your groups directly, the first thing they probably will do is see if you have any similar connections. Networking and making connections within these groups definitely heightens this possibility.
4. Not connecting with alumni
After four years at college, a diploma and student loan debt shouldn’t be the only things you’ve acquired. You’ve all heard that college is the time for meeting new people and making connections, but using those connections is even more important.
The best way to network with alumni is to join your university’s alumni page on LinkedIn. Just about every university has one, and sometimes they’re even broken down into majors. If you’re looking for a specific alumnus, don’t worry about sifting through tons of Tom Smiths or Jane Browns. LinkedIn makes it easier for you to connect! “You can filter your searches by your university to find connections,” Berger says.
After spending all that money to go to a university for four years, everyone is bound to have picked up some school spirit. Most likely, alumni still cheer on the football team, go to a social event every once in a while or make donations. Even after they graduate, they still care about the school and the students that go there. Use this to your advantage, especially when you’re applying to jobs!
“If you went to the same alma mater, you share common ground, so they’re more likely to review your resume than someone who went to a different school,” Berger notes. Connect with alumni who work at a company you’re interested in or own a business you’d like to work for. Even if the company you’d like to work for is located hundreds of miles away, there’s always the possibility of a connection, according to Berger’s “everybody knows everybody” philosophy.
Now that you know what the LinkedIn sins are, avoiding them should be a breeze. Complete your profile, get endorsements, join groups and connect with alumni—four simple ways to ensure that your LinkedIn profile will be a success.