Secret Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn

By Hillary Kawahara| July 21, 2015

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We all love Social Media. Even when you’re in Jobsearch mode, there’s a social media platform for that! LinkedIn (I like to describe it as Facebook for grown ups) can be a powerful tool when you’re looking to land an internship (or your dream job!). But all too often people blow their chances by not following the actual rules of LinkedIn.

How to Use LinkedIn Effectively…

LinkedIn is different from every other type of social media. The do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn are very different from other social sites like Facebook or Twitter. To make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance of landing your dream role, follow a few important do’s and don’ts.


Do's-and-Don'ts-of-LinkedIn computer screen

LinkedIn Do’s

1. Personalize Your Connection Requests

Always personalize a connection request. The LinkedIn default message is generic and says “I don’t know you” when what you want to do is connect. This is one sure fire way to make sure your request will go unnoticed. Personalize all your connection requests with a short message. Have you met the person before (even briefly)? Is there a common connection? Say it! As an example, imagine you want to connect with a certain very famous CEO:

Hi Mark,

It was great to meet you at Facebook HQ last week! Loved your sweatshirt! I was the guy you were talking to in the line for the beer tap. 

Your name.

Think of how many requests certain people (like Mark Zuckerberg) may get to connect. Make sure yours stands out with your personalized message.

2. Have A Businesslike Profile Picture

You need a profile picture, and I’m not talking about your Facebook profile picture. LinkedIn is a professional social network and your profile picture should look well, professional. Don’t start connecting with people until you have a nice clean, professional headshot on your account. The worst thing for your profile – having no picture at all. Tip: Use a border around it, it helps it stand out in list mode.

3. Keep It Professional

LinkedIn means business. Your profile and the posts you share should always relate to the area you want to work in. Though it taught you the value of a hard day’s work, leave out that you ran a lemonade stand one summer. Stick to experiences that enhance your profile.

4. Write In A Way that Tells A Story About You

People like stories. You should write your profile (story) in a polished way, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your unique personality into it. LinkedIn is all about business, but it can still have a thread running through it that weaves a tale about you and what you give to your work. TIP: Always write your profile in the first person. Referring to yourself in the third person is too formal. 

LinkedIn-on-a-phone

LinkedIn Don’ts

1. Don’t Treat LinkedIn Like Other Social Media Channels

LinkedIn is not Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

This is not the place for pictures of your food or that time you were partying with your friends.

It’s also not the place for sharing a constant stream of funny/inappropriate posts.

LinkedIn is for professionals, so share posts that show your expertise. Write about your internship. Show how you benefitted from it, show what you learned and what your accomplished.

2. Don’t Connect With Everyone and Anyone

It’s not a numbers game! It’s about connecting to people who will become valued connection partners. In LinkedIn world, less IS more. You should never randomly connect with people on LinkedIn, unless of course Mr Obama sends you a request. In that case, by all means, connect!

Don’t accept anyone who randomly wants to connect with you either. They could just be trying to beef up their LinkedIn connections, so make sure you check out their profile before accepting.

To get real value from LinkedIn, only connect with people you’ve worked with, have had a personal connection with and who may be a valuable connection in the future. It’s not the place to connect with the woman in the IT department you spoke to while she helped solve your problems with the Internet on campus (unless you want a job in IT!).

3. Don’t Ask People You Don’t Know For Recommendations

If you are going to ask someone for a recommendation (or if you are going to give one), make sure you know them. Imagine if you ask someone to give you a recommendation and it turns out they have a bad reputation in the industry? Their recommendation will live on your profile and will link to their profile too. If an potential employer looks at your profile before they hire you (which will happen), this won’t look good!


The most important thing to remember about how to use LinkedIn effectively (and every other form of social media) is to think about the people who will be reading your profile and the posts you share. Write it for them, not you.

On social media you’re connected to other people. They see what you share, so before you hit that share button think ‘what is this going to add to their day?’ If the answer is nothing, you might want to rethink what you’re about to share.

See more great tips on how to clean up your social media act.

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