A Job Seekers Guide to LinkedIn

The Power of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the current international powerhouse for job seekers - especially those who want to work in any corporate office. Given the pandemic, job seekers have a never before seen amount of choice and options as they consider employment.

Given the necessity, popularity and value of remote work, not only can finding jobs be much easier many have expressed excitement to see opportunities never previously available and with a well-written Linkedin profile, your chances of being discovered through passive search are at an all-time high leading to tons of opportunity.

Unfortunately, where there is engagement, there will be sales people, and Linkedin is no different.

So how do you determine the value from the garbage? What is real vs internet myth? Who is giving real career search gems vs being a job search bozo?

I offer you this simple guide.

My own opinion as it relates to navigating all of the noise and static and to get to the people that will add value.

One of the best parts about LinkedIn is that it's really easy to pan through the dirt to get real gold and I assure you there are some amazing people on this site who love helping people and have the authority and credibility, so how can you tell the difference between value and garbage?

If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that there is always a "LinkedIn fad" -something that everyone seems to be doing, and at some point when it becomes meta and everyone starts posting about that thing, it changes. (Anyone remember Polls? Yeah, me too).

Here are a few types of obvious and not so obvious content about job search and how you can potentially tell if it's real, or designed to manipulate you.

Linkedin Ploy #1: Aesops Fables Redux

As of this article, the current fad is what I call "long form fable" - the poster wants to give you a nugget of truth and knowledge, but insists on dragging it out into a long story with obnoxious pauses and spaces.

I remember I got into a dispute with someone a month ago because one of their posts was providing misinformation and many HR and Recruiting people were calling it out as being misleading. The poster had no HR or hiring experience, yet was speaking confidently about their paid job search and resume services while providing misinformation about how the ATS functions.

It took a job SEEKER to post that she was confused because so many trusted HR voices were dissenting.

The poster deleted it and instead of just making a simple post that they either misspoke or misused terminology - they turned it into a fable, something like:

"I learned an important lesson today.

Am I letting my ego get in my way? Or am I providing value?

Today, someone who I hoped to help told me that they were confused by my post - and I realized that's something I never want.

I am here to help, not to hinder.

I am here to add value, not to fight.

I am here for them, the job seekers, not for the companies."

You get the idea.

I obviously can't speak for the intent or the mindset of this poster, but this type of post makes me immediately suspicious as it doesn't appear sincere or genuine. It feels like I'm being manipulated.

Linkedin Ploy #2: Phantom Testimonials

Anytime a job search expert, career guru or resume writer tells you a story of how they just helped their client land a 7 figure offer, or got them a job with no experience, or lured them away from a "toxic environment" and into a "job of their dreams" - realize this is very likely an advertisement. Marketing 101 is to talk about a problem and how you solved it, and what better way to solve your career dilemma by letting you how know great they are?

But do you ever consider what the most frequent post is on LinkedIn? It's people who excitedly announce they just got a new job. They are always "thrilled and humbled" (and no shade to them, I personally love seeing those), yet why aren't they tagging these career search gurus? Why do the posts from the job search experts always refer to a vague "client" and not someone who is tagged that would be happy to endorse said expert?

Some of the best posts that have performed well for me are from people who tagged me naturally. People who saw my content and thanked me privately or publicly. I do not advertise job search services and essentially treat it as a "first come/first serve" based on my schedule. One person was so impressed she made a TikTok thanking me. I never asked her to, it was all unprompted. Let your clients do the talking - and don't pay them for it. Let it be sincere. That is how you build trust and integrity.

Linkedin Ploy #3: Letters Better Left Unsent

Nothing irritates me more than scrolling on LinkedIn and being barraged by virtue signaling in the "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear Recruiter" posts, and it's because I have seen the damage they can do.

At it's core, these posts are designed to manipulate you. They are the biggest and most frustrating parts of job search and almost always talk about them with a voice of someone who is "on your side".

The posts address topics like ghosting, salaries not being on the JD, job descriptions being too annoying, interviews taking too long, companies not giving nice people a chance. Yet if you took a look at their posting history, you'd see they don't really care about the topic, and most cases they aren't even running the account - they usually have a social media coordinator found on Fiverr or Upwork from some remote area who is copying and pasting from the Linkedin playbook, touching on whatever the hot topic is for that week. (Did any of you notice they all focused on BLM from June to July of 2020 before resuming job search in August?)

Not only does the poster not care at all about the topic, these posts are designed to infuriate you so that you engage, comment, like and share. This helps THEM because you are boosting their numbers - but do you know what a recruiter or hiring manager sees first when they click on your profile? Your recent activity. If you've commented or shared a post bashing managers, calling recruiters stupid or saying how you hate everyone involved in job search, all you've done is help someone else build their engagement - who couldn't care less about the situation you are in.

I can assure everyone - there is not one "Hiring Manager", "Recruiter", "HR Professional" or "Company" who is combing LinkedIn, looking for nuggets of managerial wisdom. The purpose of these posts is to feign advocacy, while manipulating your frustration.

Stay clear.

Linkedin Ploy #4: Obvious Product Marketing

When I went into business for myself, I had to teach myself basic marketing - as a result I feel a little more privileged than the average HR person or potential candidate who doesn't know how it all works.

If you see a very well written post that sounds like an advertisement, it probably is.

Does it state a problem, list 3-5 bullets (with a compelling emoji like green checkmarks) and than offer a solution?

Does it have a call to action? (The last sentence asks the reader to do something, like "Agree?" "Share Your Story" or "Thoughts"?)

Is the very first comment from the poster, usually including a link?

If so, this is product marketing.

They are using psychology such as a "hook" and "the rule of 3s" to get your attention. They also know that LinkedIn suppresses content that has a link that will take people off of Linkedin, so they put the link in the comment section instead of the actual post.

I have used this template before as I ran tests on different type of posts. There is a reason it works.

Linkedin Ploy #5: r/ThatHappened or r/EveryoneClapped

If the story sounds so absurd - and you can imagine yourself adding "and then everyone clapped" or the story puts the poster in the role of "Hero" with a very clear triangulation of "Hero/Victim/Villain" - it's very likely not a true story, it's simply designed to manipulate you into thinking they are on your side. They are your voice, while those evil companies, recruiters or hiring managers are laughing at your miserable misfortune, they are the shining beacons of hope.

I remember when once such Linkedinfluencer posted that he had given one of his employees a $40,000 raise - not because she asked for it, but because he saw how hard she was working and how worried he was for her in the pandemic knowing she had kids, most people responded the way he wanted. They shared and commented and said "louder for the people in the back" or "all of this" or "take a note, companies - this is leadership"

I also saw 10 other people post the same exact story that morning. Always $40,000. Always "not because she asked, but because he saw how hard she was working". Are we to believe that all 10 of these people had the exact same mindset and idea?

Any true leader or HR person would immediately have questions. Was this raise given to all employees? Or just one? Was the employee originally underpaid and was this a market adjustment? Did the employee receive new responsibilities? Any company knows how extremely sensitive pay can be and that above all, there has to be consistency in treatment.

Me and at least 4 other Compensation and HR professionals commented on the post asking for clarification. A quick look at his Linkedin showed he had 4 internships, then 3 years working as a "Social Marketing Influencer" under his own employ. Also a self proclaimed "Ted Talk" speaker. What company was he working at and who did he give this salary increase to?

Not only did he not answer any of us, all of our comments were deleted, and we were all blocked.

If someone can't justify or provide insights into what they post - it's a good sign to be suspicious.

Linkedin Ploy #6: Do as I say, not as I do

Late 2021 and Early 2022, the Linkedin fad was: "Hire for attitude, not for skill. All skills can be taught" and sure enough every Tasha, Juan, Mary and Peter were posting that they hired the person with no experience or reprimanding companies for having the nerve of hiring for skill instead of attitude.

Anyone who has spent anytime hiring will know there is a time and a place for this and there is so much context and nuance that you can never break it down to a false binary.

With a well staffed team, a manager can afford to hire someone who is eager to join and shows aptitude for learning while not having the right skill. This builds their acumen for developing a new employee, challenges the team to become mentors and coaches and grows a new team dynamic.

With a skeletal team, a manager might not have the capacity to train and may need an expert who can fit into the slot quickly and with little need for direction.

Anyone who has been in this position knows that there is never a simple answer (and honestly, almost all candidates are nice agreeable people).

The funniest part though - was the hypocrisy. One of these LinkedInfluencers who posted about 'hiring for attitude, not for skill' was later called out because he posted that he was looking to hire someone for an open role ...and included a list of qualifications the person needed to have.

Another poster who constantly creates "Dear Hiring Managers" and "Dear Companies" posts talking about how the interview process and job descriptions are outdated and broken, has several openings that report to his organization, with thorough job descriptions and qualifications.

While there is always room for improvement, and the job search landscape is changing - if you can't take your own advice - than why should other people?

Linkedin Ploy #7: Free is Never Free

Being an HRBP for Marketing organizations for so long, in addition to learning the basics of Marketing when I started my own business - it surprises me at how people don't understand that free never means (or almost never) means free.

People very kindly gave out free resume coaching, career coaching and interview prep to help people - while that service may have been free, it's also a way to build business.

People post on Linkedin that they "want to help" and encourage people to post the jobs they are looking for or if they are a recruiter hiring for jobs - I've never seen people connect through that method and instead see hundreds of comments of hopeful and unemployed people who are doing nothing aside from giving the author engagement through comments.

Since the surge of Product Management as a job family - we've seen a surge of "Product Manager Job Search Experts" (oddly many from Microsoft) who have designed their newsletter, template or online guide to "break into Product Marketing" - it's"completely free"...other than an email address.

Anyone who has studied the basics of CRM and Marketing understand that an email is currency. Giving it to someone through their website means you have started to give them permission to market future services and build brand loyalty with you (not a bad thing if you trust the product), but leaving it in a public forum like Linkedin not only encourages others to do so, thinking everyone is going to be the next Product Manager at Google, but now leaves your email address for anyone else to take.

Not only do these employees have no idea how hiring works (as they are individual contributors, not hiring managers or HR people) they put you at risk and treat you as currency, but they claim they are doing it to "pay it forward".

Stay clear.

Curate Your Content

While navigating LinkedIn can be overwhelming and frustrating, realize that you do have the option to curate your content. When you see a post demonstrating one of the above, or see someone who consistently posts that content, hit the "..." button on the top right of that post to open the drop-down and tell Linkedin you either don't want to see that type of post, or you don't want to see the author.

Doing this for the last month has allowed me to curate my content in the best possible ways for me. I get open job alerts that I post on my network, people excitedly sharing their new jobs, valuable insights into HR trends and practices and funny stories. Doing this has made my going to LinkedIn and insightful and entertaining experience for me. I'd encourage you to do the same!


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