Premium accounts, Profile Photos, Passwords and Dating Advice
Should I Pay for a Premium LinkedIn Account?
Sooner or later, LinkedIn will ask you whether you want to subscribe to any of their premium accounts or try one for 30 days. For now, click on NO. There is absolutely no sense in paying for (or even trying) any of their premium accounts until you have set up a completed profile, have a good number of connections, and have a plan for what you want to do on LinkedIn.
There is a premium job seeker account, but there aren’t a lot of advantages to paying the extra money (about $30+ a month), in my opinion. I tried the premium job seeker account. The best thing about it was a private job search group just for premium users. But I was giving answers more than asking questions on it.
If, later on, you find that you must have certain search features or private messaging, then you can decide whether to opt for the premium account. Students may be eligible for lower pricing and veterans might be able to get a free Job Seeker upgrade for up to a year.
What is this Lynda.com LinkedIn keeps pushing?
Lynda.com is an online training site that offers video training on a wide variety of topics related to office skills, technology, and the web. LinkedIn bought the site and now offers the service to members. Their thinking is that, if you see a job description that lists one or two job skills you don’t have, you could join Lynda.com and take a quick course or two to get familiar with those skills. Even if you don’t have the experience, you will be able to answer questions intelligently at a job interview, which might make all the difference.
I have tried Lynda.com and it has some very good courses on the site, including some advanced courses for using LinkedIn for marketing and sales. I think Lynda.com is a better use for your money than a LinkedIn Premium account. Wait until LinkedIn offers you more than the usual 10-day free trial. (I got a 30-day free trial, but I don’t know if they still give those out or not.)
Do I Have to Upload a Photo?
The short answer is: Yes, you DO need a professional-looking photo on LinkedIn.
You are absolutely correct about the inconsistency of NOT having a photo on your résumé but having a photo on your LinkedIn profile. But the photo helps with networking and promoting your professional appearance. Use the same photo on your other social media accounts and your own blog / website (if you have one), even on your business card, and it’s now part of your marketing strategy. People who see your photo in one place will remember it if they find it somewhere else.
What About Discrimination?
Yes, age discrimination and racial discrimination are real. But a job interview will reveal those things you tried to keep secret beforehand. Frankly, an employer that discriminates doesn’t deserve you. In my opinion, a well-made business-friendly photo does more to overcome discrimination than hiding a photo.
Do I Need to Hire a Photographer?
A professionally made photo isn’t required, but again it doesn’t hurt. Think of it as part of your marketing. (It’s also a tax deductible job search expense in the US.)
What should I wear in my photo?
A jacket or tie or business suit isn’t required, but it certainly doesn’t hurt on LinkedIn. If you are job-hunting, think of what you would wear to a job interview at a fairly conservative employer for your industry. Wear that in the photo. (Since a head and shoulders shot is fine, you can dispense with pants if you like. That’s between you and your photographer.)
A smile is good for networking and job hunting. But that’s your choice.
Unless you are a professional swimsuit or lingerie model, keep the photo modest and unrevealing. If you ARE a professional model, actor, or athlete, there are other ways to show off your figure with links in your profile, rather than in your main profile photo. Maybe Michael Phelps could get away with wearing just his Speedo and a dozen gold medals on LinkedIn. If you’re not Michael Phelps, think business attire.
About That Password
Don’t use “123456” or some variation of that. Don’t use “LinkedIn” in the password, or your dog’s or your kid’s name. Make it hard for somebody else to guess, but write it down somewhere where you won’t lose it.
Not to scare you, but there are people out there on the web who would love to get your password. Hackers have long lists of common, dumb passwords that people use (including “123456” and “LinkedIn”). Don’t make it easy for them. If you need to remember it, use 3 short, unrelated passwords strung together with one being numbers or other non-alphabetic characters. (See our Frugal Guidance 2 Q&A article about strategies for better security.)
If you have a cell phone or device that takes text messages, you should give LinkedIn that number, too. Then you can activate a two-step sign-on for LinkedIn to protect your LinkedIn account. This will not work on an old, wired-to-the-wall POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), or if your career choice obligates you to frequently change burner phones.
If you are job hunting on LinkedIn after being active on Facebook or Twitter, I feel obligated to warn you about a few things. This is the sermon-y part of this post. If you are allergic to sermons or want to make mistakes on your own, you may skip the rest of this post.
LinkedIn is Not Facebook or Twitter
Maybe you developed some notoriety on Facebook or Twitter by being a bad boy or bad girl, or by gossiping, sharing naughty or silly photos or sharing entertaining stories about doing dumb things.
That doesn’t work so well on LinkedIn. This is a business site. It’s not all boring, serious stuff, but the social norms are different. Don’t rant about other people. Don’t share party photos (unless it’s a party at a professional conference). Unless you are a travel writer, don’t share your vacation photos. Keep your photos of your grandchildren on Facebook, not LinkedIn, no matter how cute they are.
Don’t Put Yourself into a Clique or Subgroup
Most businesspeople tend to do business with a wide variety of people. Job hunters need to do job hunting with a wide variety of people. Networkers should network with a wide variety of people. You want to impress them, not show off your prejudices.
On Facebook you might get away with sharing your politics, ideas on religion, rants about women or men or blondes or minorities, or share jokes of various degrees of taste. On LinkedIn, these can blow up in your face. This isn’t about being politically correct, it’s about presenting yourself as a business-friendly person. It’s important.
Don’t Bad-Mouth Your Former Employer
If you were laid off, you may need to blow off some steam somewhere about how unfair the layoff was, how you were mistreated, and how bad your bosses (or employees) were. You see this a lot with new members in job search groups. Go ahead and do this with family and friends, but not on LinkedIn and, certainly, not in a job interview. Nobody wants to hire a person who trashes their last employer; they wonder if you’ll do the same to them. It will never, never help your job hunt.
There is No LinkedIn Dating Site
LinkedIn is definitely NOT a dating site. Don’t treat it as such. Some people have tried to get a date on LinkedIn and had publicly disastrous results. Even complimenting somebody on how great they look in their photo can backfire. It won’t get you a job, either.
LinkedIn is an international site. In some countries sex workers are legal, like it or not. Some profiles do have inappropriate photos and suggestions on them. If you come across such members, it’s probably best to steer away from them. Even if you want a sexy chat with a lovely chap or gal from Sweden or India, it’s best not to have that person on your LinkedIn connections list. Just so you know, LinkedIn does track all your searches, too.
Keeping it Clean
Many HR pros DO check your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts before hiring you. So you might want to clean up your Facebook account as well. There is a kernel of truth to the old adage, “LinkedIn will get you hired, Facebook will get you fired.”
The employment site, CareerBuilder, has done some studies specifically about what HR professionals think of what they find online. Some online posts that can hurt your job search include those with:
- Foul language
- Bad spelling and grammar (yes, really)
- Photos of you drinking alcohol (unless you work in the beverage industry)
- Comments about illegal drugs or activities
- An obsession with or against a particular religion
- Dirty jokes
- Partying a bit too hard or out of control
Some HR pros and hiring managers might not care about most of these things, but they might care a lot about one of them. If your job involves communication, bad grammar might count more than a photo of you partying hard. If the employer has a diverse workforce, online rants against a religion or dirty jokes might kill a job offer. See our article Job Hunters: More Employers Are Checking You Online.
These warnings are not here to scare you. They are here to keep you from making the same mistakes other job hunters have made on LinkedIn. Feel free to make your own original mistakes instead. We all do.
Emergency First Aid vehicle is from St. Clare’s Hospital of Dover, NJ. Photo is by the author. Stylization done with Photoshop and Topaz Labs plugins.
Emergency Walk-In Entrance is of St. Clare’s Hospital of Dover, NJ. Photo by the author. Stylization done with Topaz Labs Glow plugin.
Emergency sign is from a photo by the author, Andrew Brandt.