LinkedIn Best Practices

You want to build a powerful collaborative network where people are trading value, right? They’re trading ideas, they’re trading messages, they’re trading connections, and you want to make this a long term asset. This is just the beginning, but you should be thinking about this being an asset for you, building, optimizing and protecting your long term asset because it does tell a story about you and it’s something that anybody can get to online.  Here are the best practices for your LinkedIn activity.

Protect Your LinkedIn Account 

Remember that LinkedIn is not a socializing network; it is strictly used for business purposes. As said earlier, you will want to keep Facebook and Twitter separate. If you would like to add contacts to your LinkedIn account, this should be done by contacting that person on Facebook or Twitter and asking for their email, or by searching for them in the “People” tab of LinkedIn.  Don’t connect to Facebook or Twitter from your LinkedIn account – you may accidentally open the portal to information that will hurt you professionally.

Keep Personal Information Off LinkedIn

Always remember to keep everything you write and add to LinkedIn professional!  This is a network that can easily affect your career, a lifelong work in progress.  You do not want to post pictures or comments that you hope people would take as a joke.  It is best to keep political and social aspects of your life out of LinkedIn unless absolutely needed.

Be Wise When Asking for Endorsements

Make sure that if you are requesting endorsements and recommendations from people, you are sure that they will be in a positive light.  Nothing could harm your profile more than a disappointing public message from a current or former coworker. Approaching an ex manager can be touchy, so make sure you are doing it professionally and check to see if they are on LinkedIn. As discussed before, you can easily make it a mutually beneficial situation for both of you. It helps that they have a positive review as a manager as much as it helps to have a recommendation from your former boss.

Network as Much as You Can

Use as many relationships as you can to put out feelers for a job.  If you have a connection that has a positive review from an employer you like and would like to work for, use that relationship as a way to get in contact with that company if they are willing to help.  A simple message to your connection could open up a big career opportunity for you.

Privately Ask Connections About Opportunities

Contact previous managers, coworkers and friends through personalized, private emails, asking about job openings and opportunities. It is estimated that between 50 and 80 percent of jobs are landed through networking, so you will want to make this strategy a focus.  Do not send out bulk, generic emails (the lazy man’s way) to a bunch of people at once – you will be viewed as crass and lazy if you do this. Instead write individuals personally, including a brief personal catch-up note and then explaining that you are looking to make a career move. Then ask if they know of any opportunities. Be sure to thank each person in advance for their assistance. 

Watch Your Spelling and Grammar

If needed, get someone else to edit your words before you enter your information on LinkedIn. If you misspell words or post poorly written material, you will be judged for it. Think of LinkedIn as an extension of your resume. Don’t be lazy or sloppy. It may cost you a job opportunity. 

Always Be Gracious

While networking, you’ll probably stumble upon some blasts from the past that you weren’t so crazy about. It’s best to keep your negative thoughts to yourself and to simply steer clear of these people. Don’t write scathing reviews on their LinkedIn pages or you will get bombarded with the same.

Manage Your Activity Broadcasts

LinkedIn (by default) will make your activity public, sending out notifications when you update your status (much like a tweet or a Facebook status update) or when you change your profile information.  While this can be helpful if you want your contacts to know you’ve just gotten a certification or completed an impressive project, these broadcasts can also backfire on you. For example, if you are looking for a new job but are already employed, you probably don’t want your manager seeing you’ve updated your profile with information that might make him or her suspicious.  You can manage your activity broadcasts by going to your Account Settings page and selecting the appropriate link from the Privacy Controls. You will see options such as:

  • Turn on/off your activity broadcasts
  • Select who can see your activity feed

You can decide to keep your activity completely private or to hide your activity from specific contacts. 

Protect Your Privacy

While LinkedIn is a great tool for finding a job, it can also put you “out there” in ways you might not prefer to be seen. You can protect your privacy by going to the Account Settings page and using the Privacy Controls. You will be able to select options such as:

  • Select what others can see when you’ve viewed their profile
  • Select who can see your connections
  • Change your profile photo and visibility
  • Show/hide “Viewers of this profile also viewed” box
  • Turn off alerts that show you have made changes to your profile (so people won’t get updates telling them you worked on your profile)

These options will increase your privacy while still allowing you to fully pursue your job search.

Keep Your LinkedIn Profile Current

Even after you’ve found a new job, you’ll want to keep your profile up to date, just in case something better comes along. Recruiters, potential future employers and colleagues are bound to check out your profile, so you want the latest and greatest information posted. For example, if you’ve just gotten a new job, you’ll want to post your new title and information along with a short summary of your responsibilities there. As time passes, you’ll want to update your skills and achievements to reflect your increased experience.

Don’t List “Unemployed” as Your Professional Headline While Seeking a New Job

Instead, list something positive in your professional headline like “Recent Computer Science Graduate Seeking Employment” or “Investment Banking Expert Seeking New Opportunity.”  The same advice goes for listing the company name when unemployed. Use a headline like the ones listed above instead of posting “unemployed.”  If you’re unemployed, be sure to include volunteer work and freelance project work on your profile so no one will view you as inactive. Use this space to express your availability for new opportunities. 

Be Aware That Your Public Work History May Prompt a Background Check

Be careful to list accurate information on your LinkedIn work history. You may also want to check in with past managers and clients to alert them that you’ve mentioned them online. Potential employers may do a background check (and then check public records with the dates and position information you’ve provided online) or may even contact people who recommended you on LinkedIn.  There’s no way to get around this, so just make sure your information is as accurate as is possible and publicly listed colleagues are aware they may get contacted for a formal reference. 

Tailor Your Most Recent Job Title for Maximum Impact

Your most recent job title will show up as your professional headline on your profile. Be sure to word this for maximum impact.