Wednesday, July 16, 2014

LinkedIn Boot Camp: The 10 Biggest Mistakes Military Professionals Make On LinkedIn (And How to Avoid Them)

Orion Navy NCO and SNCO Recruiter Sultan Camp recently published a blog post for Every Veteran Hired that explains the biggest mistakes military professional make on LinkedIn, with tips on how to avoid them. Check out a sampling below and visit Every Veteran Hired for the full article.

Before we even start discussing how to use LinkedIn, there are several questions that you need to ask yourself.

First of all, why are you on LinkedIn? What makes you different than the 250 million folks on there? What is it about you that’s going to catch a hiring decision-maker’s or recruiter’s eye and make them want to act? What industries and position titles are you targeting?

Once you’ve put some time and effort in answering these questions in writing, you are ready to proceed. Following are 10 of the biggest mistakes veterans make on LinkedIn, and how you can avoid making them yourself:

1. Thinking That LinkedIn Alone Will Get You Hired

Let me dispel the myth that just by having a strong LinkedIn profile that prompts recruiters to contact you about employment opportunities, you’re going to get hired. The bottom line is that your job search is never complete until you’ve signed an offer letter and started your new employee orientation.

We’ve all probably heard the story of the person who got the job offer, only to find out it was rescinded due to a contract not being awarded, the position funding not being appropriated or even a more suitable candidate being chosen. Don’t be one of them. Never stop your job search until the ink is dry on the offer letter. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

2. Thinking LinkedIn Is a Monday-Through-Friday Network

There’s a wrongly held belief that LinkedIn is strictly a Monday-through-Friday social networking site. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In an era of smartphones, we check our emails constantly and read whatever interests us as we wait in line at the department store or grocery. We are an uber-connected society, like it or not. On a typical day, I get 200+ emails in my work inbox, compared to the 15 or so that I get on my LinkedIn account from people I know personally. So, which do you think has the higher likelihood of getting a response?

It’s important to note, however, that sensible rules of etiquette still apply. Please don’t email earlier than 9 a.m. or later than 8 p.m. The objective of the email is to result in a phone call. I advocate the philosophy of using “old-school techniques and new-school technologies.”

3. Thinking Your Network Size Doesn’t Matter

Now, before you run out and become a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), I’ll ask you the all-important question: If you had an exotic sports car, what type of gas would you fill it up with?

I hope that your answer was “premium gas.” That’s because if you put regular unleaded in that vehicle, it would not perform at its optimum capacity when you needed it to. At the end of the day, you want to be able to contact anyone in your network and ask them for an introduction to someone they know, and feel confident that your relationship is such that they’ll feel comfortable doing so.

That being said, your employment opportunities will be driven by the number of connections that you have. Remember, you’re still networking, albeit in a virtual matter, and the more you reach out, the more career opportunities will come about because of it.

Also keep in mind (those who do the hiring, cover your ears!) that the employer seldom knows what they really want. Building relationships with your LinkedIn connections and getting to know them helps you to identify what their needs and wants genuinely are. Ask them what prompted them to connect with you in the first place and what you can do for them. These questions will help you in building your social capital with them, as well.

I know that some of you who still have a few years left in the uniform may be tempted to stop reading right now. Don’t make that mistake! Military professionals are the perfect candidates to be passive job seekers. What is a passive job seeker? This is a professional who isn’t actively looking for a job — but, if the right opportunity was presented to them, they would express some interest in it. In the military, many servicemembers do it all the time when they’re promotion-eligible. They say, “If I get selected or promoted to ____, then I’ll re-enlist or obligate for a few more years.”

In an era when the armed services are force-shaping through Enlisted Retention Boards, the management of your military career isn’t on autopilot as it once was. As a veteran, now Military candidate recruiter, I most often encourage folks to continue serving our country, but you should always be prepared to get out. It’s best not to be caught off-guard or procrastinate. Trust me when I tell you, lack of preparation leads to desperation, and desperation scares people (especially employers) away. This is the same whether you are an E-3 or O-7.

Want to read more about the most common mistakes by military professionals on LinkedIn and how to avoid them? Click here to read the full post.

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