Idiot’s Guide To LinkedIn

If you’re one of the general users (not in recruiting or sales) who only spend five minutes per week on LinkedIn, you probably get frustrated or lost on the site one of these days. You’re not alone. As a recruiter, I see a lot of mistakes people make when it comes to using LinkedIn. Since there are tons of articles on how to improve your profile, I won’t bore you with another list of recommendations.

Today, I’m here to guide you through the most important things you need to know as a general user to:

  • Avoid embarrassing yourself or confusing others via LinkedIn
  • Protect your privacy and control visibility of your LinkedIn activities
  • Promote your personal brand by acting ethically and professionally on LinkedIn

Where is the link to my public profile?

Yes, I think you need to know your LinkedIn public profile URL, especially as a job

seeker. You’ll be surprised how many times people submit the generic home page link as

their profile link along with their job applications (see picture).

Why am I connected to someone automatically after I looked him/her up?

Yes, you may have accidentally sent an invitation to your ex. This is a careless user interface problem. LinkedIn’s design is optimized for call-to-action. When you look someone up on LinkedIn, click on his/he name to view the profile instead of clicking on the bright blue button ‘Connect’. I know it’s very tempting to click on the big bright blue button.

See picture below for a search example on Jason Fried, one of my favorite authors.

I’m looking for a job. How do I make sure (1) recruiters and employers can find me easily (2) my current employer won’t know that I’m leaving?

1.1 Be very active on LinkedIn; complete your profile and include your contact info.

Log in, edit your profile, add more connections, post daily updates, and join group discussions. Your profile will show up as one of the top results or will be sent to a recruiter/sourcer’s inbox directly.

1.2 Insert keywords such as ‘looking for’, ‘open to’, ‘willing’, ‘available’, ‘immediately’, ‘relocate’, or ‘relocation’ somewhere in your profile.

A good recruiter/sourcer use keywords to find both active and passive candidates who may be open to new opportunities. Insert those keywords discreetly if you want to keep your job search private.

1.3 Keep your privacy and communication settings open.

LinkedIn has a preference menu for what type of messages you’re willing to receive from other LinkedIn users. Make sure your setting says that you’re open to messages that pertain to ‘Career Opportunities’.

1.4 Find the recruiter/hiring manager- view and/or connect with them.

If you don’t feel like it’s appropriate to send an invitation, simply view their profiles. People are curious by nature. Most people want to know who viewed their profiles.

1.5 Follow the target companies or join their groups.

It’s easier for corporate recruiters to find you if you are already their follower or a group member.

2.0 Look for a job privately without getting yourself in trouble.


I’m sick of getting messages from tireless recruiters/ salespeople. How can I stop them?

Don’t share your contact information openly.

Yes, they would still find some other way to reach you but you can make it harder for them to spam you. After all, it is a social networking site. If you don’t want people contacting you, don’t share your contact information.

Change your communications setting.

Select what type of LinkedIn messages you’ll receive.

State your interest- be specific.

It’s disturbing that not every recruiter or salesperson will read your profile before they contact you. That being said, you can emphasize your primary interest and preference in your summary to dissuade those who actually read your profile from spamming you.

Simply tell them to stop.

Some spams allow you to unsubscribe easily. If that’s not the case, tell them you don’t want to receive any more communication in any form.

Someone connected with me because she was interested in working for my company. I don’t think my company plans to hire her but she certainly fits one of our buyer personas. Can I add her email to our marketing list?

No. First, you’ll need her formal consent to become a subscriber. Second, you’re a jerk for asking her to buy your product after excluding her as a candidate for your open position. Third, you can’t abuse the relationship just because you’re her LinkedIn connection. You’ll probably ruin the relationship.

I reached out to someone for an advice/consulting gig/recommendation/introduction. He responded to my request. What do I do next?

Thank him for his response even if you don’t find the piece of information helpful or there’s no direct positive results from his response. If you care about building meaningful, lasting professional relationships, be appreciative when people respond to your inquiries.

Wow, Jane Doe from XYZ company is looking hot. Can I message her to comment on her beauty and ask her out?

No. You’re being creepy. Save your online dating activities for other appropriate platforms.

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Idiot’s Guide To LinkedIn

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