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I get a lot of questions about using LinkedIn. For some of them, the answer is obvious. Should you put up a profile picture? Yes, of course. Some questions, however, have no definite answer.

Bear with me, as I try to explain some of the tricky situations you might encounter while using LinkedIn:
 

Is it a good idea to accept all invitations to connect on LinkedIn? If not, what criteria should be followed?

LinkedIn is business networking on steroids. Imagine going to a conference and receiving fifty business cards in 10 minutes, that’s how crazy it can get. But like typical networking events, some of the LinkedIn invites you receive will be of no interest to you.

Don’t accept all invites you get. Connect with a purpose.

I’m not saying you should only accept invites from people you know personally. No! Because then you might miss out on job and business building opportunities from new connections.

Accept Invites…

  • With customized invitation messages that specify how they know you, or why they want to connect. LinkedIn invites are mostly generic, so if someone takes time to personalize their message; it means they’re serious about building a professional connection with you.
  • If you get a generic invite, view their profile first before declining it. Check their job title, work history, or LinkedIn groups to see if you have anything in common. Maybe you’ve met at an event, or he’s in a similar industry as you. As long as the profile doesn’t look spammy, suspicious, and you have a few things in common, then it’s okay to accept it.
     

What do executive search consultants see on LinkedIn profiles that concerns them?

The obvious concerns are:

  • No profile picture
  • Long employment gaps
  • No recommendations

But there are more subtle red flags…

Employees at executive-level positions are expected to be well-connected in their industry. If an executive search consultant checks your profile, and sees that you’re not connected to any colleagues, competitors, and industry experts, they will be suspicious.

A senior-executive’s role relies heavily on his industry connections. Even if you have stellar performance, a thin network will affect your chances of getting a senior-level job.

The same goes for executives whose only connections are search consultants. LinkedIn isn’t a job board, it’s a social network. Use it to contribute in your industry by commenting on popular threads, posting articles and endorsing people in your network.
 

What’s the best way to connect with someone who ‘viewed’ your LinkedIn profile?

To avoid looking like a stalker, wait a few days before initiating contact.

LinkedIn only reveals who viewed your profile, not WHY they viewed it. Don’t assume they want to hire you, or are even remotely interested in you. It might have been an accidental or casual viewing.

That’s why it’s a good idea to do a bit of digging before sending a message.               

Check their work history, groups, and connections to find out the possible reason for the profile view. If you can’t find any possible reason, ask yourself, “Is there any value in getting them as a connection?”

Here’s a template message you can customize:
 

Hi (Name),

I noticed you viewed my profile recently. You were probably just ‘passing by,’ but I want to check if there’s anything I can do to help you. I’m currently working as a (your job title or your skills).

Kindly let me know if you’d like to schedule a quick chat.
 

I suggest you customize this message, depending on why you think they viewed your profile.
 

Do executive search consultants think there’s something suspicious about me if I’m not on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is often an executive search consultant’s first point of contact with a candidate. Senior-level executives are expected to be highly-connected to important people in their industry. Having a well-connected LinkedIn profile is best evidence of that.

So yes, search consultants will suspect something is amiss if you’re not on LinkedIn.

Any applicant searching for a job in marketing, sales, and business development – any client-facing job for that matter – will have a hard time convincing a search consultant of their interpersonal skills without a LinkedIn profile.
 

How do executive search consultants find candidates on LinkedIn? What does their results page look like?

LinkedIn sourcing works the same way job boards do. You enter a keyword, search by location or job title, and then the website’s algorithm crawls the database for matching entries.

Executive search consultants use LinkedIn as one of their many sources to find candidates and often search LinkedIn’s database in different ways. Some search consultants use the free search option; others use the “Advanced Search” function, which allows them to refine parameters based on “school,” “title,” “company,” and even “location.”

Search consultants using the paid, LinkedIn Recruiter service can further define their search results according to “years of stay,” “seniority level” and “groups.” They can also see your COMPLETE profile – even if they’re not connected to you.

linkedin_advanced_search
 

In your opinion, is it a good practice to reveal in your LinkedIn profile that you are unemployed?

I hear this question a lot, especially from long-time unemployed job seekers. Unfortunately, discrimination against the unemployed is real. So you have to get creative… but not too creative.

Phrases like these are very suspicious:

  • In transition
  • Freelancer at (made up company name)
  • Consultant at (your own website)

Unless you’re really freelancing or consulting for a legitimate business, with projects and clients to your name, don’t use these titles.

Putting volunteer and non-profit jobs can also affect how you turn up in search results. Besides, visitors to your profile might think it’s your actual job. Avoid putting non-profit work in your LinkedIn headline or work history; put it in the “Volunteer Experience and Causes” section instead.

For me, the best way to signal unemployment, without looking desperate is to update your LinkedIn headline with a list of your skills, or your past job title. Just don’t put your previous employer’s name.
Tons of articles on LinkedIn etiquette are available online. It’s impossible to remember them all, so when in doubt, just follow the golden rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

To learn more about this topic, download this complimentary webinar: Advanced Networking: LinkedIn, Twitter, and More.

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