Think Before You Write!

How would you, as a recruiter or employer, react to a Professional Profile on a résumé that states: I’m a young man who has been out of work for 10 months, has little skills to offer, but really needs a job? After getting over the initial shock and wondering if this is a joke or a cry for help, I imagine you’d quickly dismiss the résumé.

I recently read part of a LinkedIn profile that displayed a blog entry which was not as obviously inappropriate; but it prompted me to immediately leave the user’s profile. The author of the blog entry spoke of being unable to get out of bed because of her despondency over being out of work. While this may have been true—and I am sensitive to the plight of the unemployed—LinkedIn is not the platform to express feelings such as these.

I’ve similarly read answers on LinkedIn’s Answers feature that left me wondering why the authors were so free with their opinions. Like the blog entry I’ve described, I’ve been dismayed by the audacity of some of the answers, and questions, I’ve read. It’s a known fact that employers who are seeking additional information on jobseekers will venture into a person’s answers. Some of the answers I’ve read would certainly turn me away as an employer.

Jobseekers aren’t the only ones who express negative sentiments on LinkedIn. Business owners and the gainfully employed are also guilty of spewing trashy statements that immediately cast them in a negative light. This group of LinkedIn users shares its negativity with impunity. Although their ill thought-out comments may not affect them now, the comments may come back to bite the employed in the arse.

Why do people expose their “inner soul” on LinkedIn? Perhaps it’s out of anger or depression or hopelessness. Maybe they don’t understand we’re all judged on everything we write—as I am being judged now. They may be self-absorbed and want for an audience that will listen to their complaints or unhappiness.

I believe that everyone deserves to be listened to, regardless of the nature of their message, but only in the proper forum. Most LinkedIn users feel that this highly regarded networking application is professional and self-policed by people who want to keep it this way.

I asked a question on the Answers feature regarding LinkedIn maintaining its professionalism, to which Traci Thompson, NRWA answered: “I rarely stumble across unprofessional content or users on LinkedIn. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the system functionality and its ability to bring job seekers and employers together.”

Would you submit a résumé or cover letter that is full of self-pitying verbiage or dripping with anger? You wouldn’t think of it. Your online written statements are worthy of consideration, as well. 

Think before you write is my advice. Every part of your LinkedIn profile will be scrutinized from your Snapshot, Summary, History, Blog entries, and even the recommendations written for you. Jobseekers and the gainfully employed, be aware of what you write. You’re being judged.

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4 thoughts on “Think Before You Write!

  1. Laura Smith-Proulx

    Bob,

    What a timely article! I have to say that I’m in total agreement with you, as I’ve noticed people posting Answers section queries and responses that state that they don’t want their employer to know they are job hunting. Well, they’ve just told the world!

    Perhaps it’s the semi-private nature of Facebook that is misleading, where you can post thoughts to friends, but perhaps not think about where these ideas will travel. I have also found that some LinkedIn users are mistaking the site for a forum where political expression or other volatile sentiments should be expressed. When they become job seekers, this is data they’ll probably wish they hadn’t shared.

    Great points – I’m glad you noted this, and maybe more LinkedIn users will be careful with their postings.

    Laura

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  2. Things Career Related Post author

    Well put, Laura.

    We all have to be careful, jobseekers and employers, about what we put on the Internet where everything is on display. At the same time we have to be able to express our feelings, just in the correct forum. You have always been classy in what you write.

    Bob

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  3. John Wentworth

    Great advice, Bob. In my Business Communications class, I’m constantly telling my students to be aware of what their Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and other social networking profiles might reveal about them. Half-focused photos of Joe at a bar with his friends with their tongues hanging out over the devil’s horns gesture may give a potential employer reason to quietly go away. The same could happen with a reference or a networking contact. How you portray yourself on social networks has much to do with your employability. Details about the kinds of things you like, who your friends are, or nicknames can be important factors if your employer is looking at you online. And many are…

    John

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  4. Things Career Related Post author

    Thanks John. I’m glad you’re giving your students sound advice early on, as this is a time when some of them will write silly stuff on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (if they’re on it).

    Bob

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