LinkedIn is a powerful tool for communication, networking and career advancement. However, it can also be a place where others learn something that torpedoes your reputation or hurts your career.
This danger is one of the unintended consequences of the increasing prominence of LinkedIn profiles as valuable job-search and personal-branding tools. The social network, which constantly encourages its members to share more — including details that may seem irrelevant in professional context, such as specific causes they care about or volunteer experience — could actually be doing some users a disservice.
LinkedIn profiles can feel never-ending, and the more scrolling required, the more likely others are to find something that gives them a reason to cast unfair judgment.
Showcasing your extracurricular activities may give strangers a better sense of your personality, but it can be fraught with problems. “Discrimination of all kinds is still rampant as hell,” says Rick Gillis, a professional career consultant, trainer and author. (Gillis also contributes to CIO.com’s ICN blogs.)
It’s a challenge to effectively walk the fine line between sharing too much and not sharing enough. “Highlight facts and stats that are relevant to your job, industry, professional network, or clients,” says Emily Gordon, strategic director of recruitment firm Seven Step RPO. “If it doesn’t relate to those topics, it should be removed.”
Sustenance over filler on LinkedIn
One way to avoid discrimination is to focus on accomplishments, or promote sustenance over filler. “A good accomplishment will trump discrimination every time,” says Gillis.
Negative presumptions based on LinkedIn profiles may have no foundation whatsoever in truth or fairness, but that’s beside the point. Some people will wonder just how effective and committed you will be to a new job if you publish an article on LinkedIn every single day or volunteer 20 hours or more each week, for example.
You shouldn’t let your personality, beliefs or whatever you do on your own time keep you from landing a new job, closing a sale or making a connection with a big shot in your industry.
Gordon suggests cutting personal hobbies and interests, such kayaking or karate, from your LinkedIn profile. “Yes, they can make you stand out, but professional skills, like certifications or awards, will carry a lot more weight.”