Networking on LinkedIn is an important part of any Big 4 recruiting season, but here’s what NOT to do on LinkedIn!

1) Don’t attempt to connect with everyone to seem popular

While it may seem tempting at least when you’re first getting started to add everyone and anyone who shows up on the “People you may know” list, I would advise against it. Concentrate on building your network by looking for your peers, your professors, and people that you actually know. If you’re networking correctly, your network will grow to an impressive amount through organic growth. I’m not saying not to add people you don’t know, because it can be a valid strategy when done correctly.

2) Don’t say you have skills that you really don’t

When a recruiter or hiring manager is looking over your LinkedIn profile, you don’t want to come off as a “phony.” These people are well aware of the skills that you develop through your studies and through accounting experience. If you’ve read certain books or done some studying on your own that may be helpful, list them. Some examples of this could be financial statement analysis, advanced Excel and/or database programming.

3) You don’t have to list all of your work experience (like a resume)

Just like when you write your accounting resume, it may be hard to leave off work experience of which you feel proud. I think there is a grey area between putting information up that makes you look like you’ve been busy with a part-time job, school, and clubs, and putting up experience that isn’t worthy of your LinkedIn profile.

Your LinkedIn profile should be a more concise form of your resume, so I would lean towards leaving off the waiter/waitress-type jobs. Stick to internships, non-profits, and possibly retail (if you had any leadership roles).

4) DO NOT message someone and ask if they are hiring

Do NOT message recruiters, partners, and other staff and say “Hey, are you guys hiring?” There is tact and strategy built into a networking plan and this could honestly put you at a disadvantage if you end up interviewing with the firm.

5) Don’t send messages to people at the same firm or same office on the same day

Even if you’re sending out the right kind of messages, you don’t want to email everyone from the same office on the same day. I have observed someone who did a copy/paste job for a bunch of people in our office and it was discussed with mockery during lunch. Doing this gives the impression that you’re sending out an email blast to anyone who you can contact.

6) Don’t flaunt work experience that isn’t really work experience

This goes back to not flaunting your skills section, but I think many people also try to pad their resume with experiences that didn’t actually happen. In most situations, the recruiters/hiring managers know who is faking it when they list exaggerated responsibilities and achievements.

7) Don’t skip out on the profile picture

Using a profile picture is key because you want recruiters to be able to link your face to your name. Recruiters go on LinkedIn more often than you think and often browse the candidates to see how they are presenting themselves to the public. They usually already have the resume, but they want to see if the candidate gives off a polished, professional impression. It’s no surprise this is very important when you’re in such a client-facing industry.

8) Don’t add a ton of groups that are unrelated (or add all you like but don’t show them on your profile!)

There is a lot of value in adding groups that are in your interest or industry. However, if you have a ton of groups (10-15+), it can give off the impression that you’re one of those aggressive networkers who’s like an insurance salesman. Add all the groups you like, but make sure only a few of them are publicly listed on your profile. You can edit which groups are visible on your profile, so definitely clean up the groups on your profile.

9) If you’re sending out messages to multiple people, make sure to proofread

So, I actually made this mistake and I want to make sure that you don’t do the same. I sent out a lot of messages in the fall before full-time recruiting season, and I was following up with these contacts in the early summer to reach out again. I had a standard template that I was using and then I would modify it for things that we talked about or maybe just the office and state. On one occasion, I forgot to change their NAME. Please don’t let this embarrassment happen to you!

10) Don’t update LinkedIn like you update your Facebook or Twitter

I know this sounds basic and obvious, but LinkedIn is not a place to talk about personal things. I would say the furthest you should go is commenting on a current event like a big stock market movement or IPO. Even in this example just comment something like “It should be interesting to see how the market reacts to this.” Showing that you’re following general business trends can be favorable but don’t attempt to be a know it all and predict the next stock market crash.