4 LinkedIn Mistakes You Must Avoid During Your Job Hunt

4 LinkedIn Mistakes You Must Avoid During Your Job HuntWhen I meet with clients who’ve been recently laid off, I too often hear the same refrain: Because I was working and thought my job/company was secure, I didn’t pay too much attention to my LinkedIn profile. This is a huge mistake, but one that can be rectified by, well, paying more attention to your LinkedIn presence even when you think you don’t need to do so.

Notice I said, “LinkedIn presence.” Your LinkedIn presence is about more than just having a good profile, though that’s a good starting place. But there’s so much more to LinkedIn than your profile and your job hunt will suffer if you ignore the online networking support it can give you.

Avoid an Inadequate LinkedIn Profile

Yes, you must have a LinkedIn profile for an effective job search in most professions these days, but having an adequate profile is critically important. That means four things in a job hunt context:

Your profile must be complete in LinkedIn’s eyes. This means you must have:

  • A headline
  • A summary
  • At least one job listing
  • At least two to three recommendations
  • At least two to three memberships in LinkedIn Groups

Checking all these boxes will make your profile show up in searches 40% more of the time – well worth the effort.

Your profile must not be a copy/paste of your resume content. Your online profile is not your resume and hence should not contain identical content. Your resume positioning will generally be different than that of your profile since the latter will often need to be written to demonstrate your qualifications for multiple types of jobs, often in multiple industries, all of which requires different keywords and content.

Your profile must include industry-specific and position-specific keywords. By now you’ve probably heard that when your resume is analyzed by employer, recruiter, and job board databases (also known as ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems), these systems will count the number and density of keywords it contains. Since LinkedIn is also an ATS (and is used as such by thousands of recruiters and companies), you will also need to ensure your profile contains the right number (enough, but not too many) of keywords in the right frequency and in the right locations.

Your profile must be branded based on your targets, qualifications, and experience. Without branding, your profile will be boring to read and will simply rehash your resume. Branding gives your profile personality, makes it vibrant to read, and helps you and your candidacy to stand out. After all, without visibility, your job hunt is going nowhere fast. Branding in your profile means having a good headline, a summary that draws your readers in, and work history content that doesn’t read like a series of job descriptions. It also means evaluating the type and number of supplements you can add on to your profile (not your resume, though – it doesn’t belong on your profile). Then there are your recommendations which can add verve to your profile if written well.

Avoid an Inadequate LinkedIn Network

Though most job hunters focus predominantly on their profile, the most important of your LinkedIn presence is arguably your network. An adequate network means it is the right size (500+) and that you are connected to the right people in the right industries in the right geographic areas.

If your network is too small, your profile will show up in too few recruiter or hiring executive searches. If you’re not connected to the right people in the right industries, you’ll struggle to get your foot in the door of target companies. And if you’re not connected to the right geographic areas, you’ll fail to achieve your relocation goals.

Avoid Too Little Industry Penetration

LinkedIn would disagree with this statement, but in my opinion one key way to leverage your profile is to penetrate your target industries. And one way to do this is to join industry and functional LinkedIn Groups related to your next-stage career goals.

LinkedIn Groups are invaluable in at least four ways:

  1. They allow you to build a network deep in your target industries and sub-sectors.
  2. They give you visibility with recruiters and hiring executives in your target industries and sub-sectors.
  3. They allow you to receive more industry-relevant LinkedIn connection invites, which also helps you to build a targeted network faster.
  4. They enable you to communicate with peers in groups with whom you would otherwise be unable to reach without paying for a premium LinkedIn profile to gain access to InMail privileges.

Although LinkedIn allows you to join 100, I suggest 25 to 30 as a job search starting point and 50+ for ongoing career management.

Avoid Inadequate Networking

The most critical mistake you can make on this social network, though, is not to network at all or in too limited of a fashion since this is the reason it exists in the first place. And the whole point of networking to gain access to people and opportunities you will otherwise struggle or fail to reach. All of which means it is vital that once you have the right profile and the right industry penetration, you then focus on assertive networking that will help you to get your foot in the door with target influencers and potential employers.

A common misperception of networking is that it means asking people for job leads. I prefer to think of networking as a one-on-one form of business intelligence-gathering through which you source information about industries, geographic locations, companies, departments, challenges, influencers, and much, much more. Smart networking opens doors and helps you find a way through them. Smart networking helps you to overcome barriers to your reemployment goals. Smart networking energizes your job hunt and helps you to land a better job faster than a so-so job.

To paraphrase 12 Step programs, if I may, networking works if you work it. It doesn’t if you don’t.


Need other ways to prop up your candidacy for better jobs? The right resume can work wonders for your job hunt ~ check out 5 Reasons You Need a Knock-‘Em Dead Resume Even When Jobs Are Plentiful.

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About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.


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