There’s no doubt that LinkedIn is a powerful professional tool. The most recent stats from Omnicore say the company currently has over 500 million users, with 250 million of them using the site monthly. Further, 40% of LinkedIn users access the site every day. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that the platform now has 3 million active job listings, which makes searching for a job tailored to your qualifications easier than ever.
Of course, LinkedIn isn’t just a job site. It’s a network for people to generate sales leads, share their thoughts about their professions and industries, and if you’re a journalist like me, it’s a great source to find experts to comment on stories I’m writing. It’s because of the last point that I use LinkedIn almost daily.
I’ve increasingly noticed some common annoying traits. Examples include people sending patently generic messages when they ask to connect with you, people who think LinkedIn is nothing more than a popularity contest (I can’t tell you how often I now see a person’s profile name read “John Smith 9k connections! Follow me now!” Ugh.), and then there are the sales pitches sent immediately after accepting a connection request (no, I don’t need 10,000 LED light bulbs at a great rate).
Those are just my pet peeves; I wanted to find out what professional recruiters think are the most annoying and counterproductive mistakes people make. Here’s what they said.
The Faux Philosopher
The number one sign Marco Montinari, a recruitment consultant at Mason Frank International, sees repeatedly is LinkedIn users trying to be philosophers or motivational speakers. “It usually involves reflecting on their own successes while also advising people to stay humble,” Montinari says. While there’s nothing inherently bad about trying to deconstruct common professional issues or trying to uplift people through motivational words, unless you actually are, you know, a philosopher, what you think is deep or uplifting often comes across as simply trite or self-congratulatory. As Montinari points out: “A lesson in self-awareness is often needed for people who spend time telling others how to live their lives.”
Mistaking LinkedIn for Facebook
Another pet peeve of Montinari’s is people mistaking LinkedIn for that other blue social network, Facebook. “LinkedIn is meant to be a professional network, but I see a lot of people using memes in their posts,” he says. “This is fine if used correctly, as I think memes can be a great way to communicate in 2018, but often memes are used in the wrong context or don’t make sense, which sometimes comes across as trying to be ‘down with the kids.’ It leaves the person looking not only a bit foolish, but also unprofessional. It makes me cringe.”
Tracy Short, an executive recruiter and career consultant who spends a lot of time on the network, agrees. “There’s a trend for ‘passing it forward,’ being ‘authentic,’ expressing ‘gratitude’ through ‘Broetry,’ and posting videos that say nothing aside from name dropping who it was that challenged you to do it.” Short says not only does this oversharing come across as fake and insincere, the people who are doing it are missing a trick. “We’d rather hear about your views on the industry, the workplace, trends, ideas, products, and services. You never know who might need your services and experiences if they’re your type of people when you speak.”
Glenn Southam, head of marketing operations at Eurostaff, says the site is rife with people fishing for recognition for their good deeds. “Selfless acts do not (need to) be promoted,” he says. “You may get an online following of people saying how great you are, but in reality it is attention seeking. Let others shout about your acts of kindness–it is a lot more powerful.”
Southam says bragging occurs most often in posts where people blab about their daily routines. “Your routine doesn’t matter. Does it really make you the person you are? Being able to do a Downward Facing Dog before 5 a.m. and run a marathon to work for a 7 a.m. start does not give an insight into how good a professional you are. It certainly doesn’t make you better than the parents doing the school run before getting to work at 9 a.m., finishing at 5 p.m. and then helping with their kids’ homework. Focus on your work achievements and how you add value.”
Posting Without Purpose
All social networks are designed to make posting content as easy as possible for their users, but on a network for professionals, it’s critical your posts have a purpose–something an increasing number of posts lack, according to Greg Statham from Macildowie recruitment consultancy.
“LinkedIn is a fantastic site for highlighting your expertise in a particular field. Indeed, as a micro-blogging platform that can drive your content to a highly focused audience, its potential is second to none,” says Statham. “However, time and again I see people writing articles that aren’t related to their field of expertise or don’t give any insight to a particular problem in their industry. If you are creating content for content’s sake, then you are missing a huge opportunity to showcase your knowledge and ability.”
In short, don’t post just for the sake of posting something. If you do post, make sure it’s something your connections will find relevant. Need an example? This article, perhaps.