Professional Development

4 of the Most Common LinkedIn Mistakes

Written by Miranda Pennington

For a rookie LinkedIn user, the site can feel like Facebook 2.0. Oh hey, I know that guy! He fell asleep in 20th Century Topics every week in college! Look, it’s the girl who used to sit by the elevator two jobs ago! Making these not-so-useful “connections” is often a mistake—as are the other 4 items on this list from Don Goodman over at Careerealism.

1. You don’t carefully evaluate who you allow as a connection.

Do not add the aforementioned connections—be very selective about the add requests you make. Stick to promising contacts in your industry or people who can recommend you for specific skills. Think of LinkedIn as the opposite of Facebook! Be generous—but honest—in your recommendations, too.

2. You didn’t pick your profile picture with care.

Your profile definitely has a higher chance of being viewed with a photo. Choose one that is friendly, professional, and approachable. Give special scrutiny to the background—don’t have someone take a terrific pic with a sloppy couch behind you!

3. Your sub-header doesn’t “talk.”

The sub-header is an underused tool by many LinkedIn users. What a recruiter will see is your name and a headline, like “Associate Editor, ABC Magazine”. That’s fine if you have a job and you’re happy in it, but consider something more descriptive, like “Healthcare Marketing Pro and Medical Marketing Advisor”—it gives a sense of your experience, your specialties and your range.

4. You haven’t adjusted your privacy settings.

I try to keep my Facebook to people I know and trust. Anyone else gets sent to an “acquaintance” list, and I keep a close eye on the audience for each update and notification. Give the same attention to your LinkedIn; the privacy settings on your profile should be more publicly accessible, but any activities relating to job-hunting, like connecting with recruiters or getting recommendations from current colleagues, should be kept private from your current employer (for obvious reasons).

When in doubt, have a friend look over your profile while they’re logged in to their own to make sure that only what you want displayed is visible!

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.