No one’s perfect. No web site is bulletproof. Put the two together and you’ve got some concerning, mildly annoying, and darn funny things that happen when the two collide. Witness LinkedIn: I’ve seen some wonderful improvements over the years, but other features (or lack thereof) are still head-scratchers. In the middle of these is the juxtaposition of “operator error” and poor site design. Here are some of the most uncomfortable things that happen on LinkedIn and potential fixes.
Awkward Moment #1: WTH! A connection plagiarized my profile
Yes, you read that right: Someone I am connected to on LinkedIn copied some of my profile summary, and I have discovered this is much more common than one might think. I contacted the person, but she never responded, shock of shocks. Even if she did get back to me, she could claim that those were her words first. I will stay connected only to monitor her activity. The irony? She is in marketing. Let’s hear it for originality.
Fix: Sure, I’ve used other profiles for inspiration, but that’s where it does and should end. I advocate that LinkedIn launch some sort of “sniffer tool” to route out this type of behavior, similar to plagiarizing programs. I realize that we all can’t be completely unique snowflakes on LinkedIn, but there should be some controls.
Awkward Moment #2: Searching for a name ends up as a status update
Note: This only happens on the mobile app (add to that: typing one-handed, drinking alcohol, or other situational handicaps can be mitigating factors). On a small screen, it’s very easy to press the status update icon after typing the name you are searching for. One would think you would notice said search didn’t reap results, but you might chalk it up to a processing error. I discovered this by seeing two words on my activity updates late one evening on my computer screen: the name of the person I was dating. Nice. And I’ve observed this enough times on others’ activity updates to know that I’m not the only one. Posting a name as an update just looks like you’re making a statement—of the wrong kind, that is.
Fix: As with Facebook or any other social network, learn the various commands for the mobile app—they are not always the same as on the website, and many apps are updated often, which can be confusing. Ask yourself: Is this task essential to do right this second or can it wait for the big screen? And to LinkedIn, putting the search and status bars perilously close together, bad idea for the size of mobile phones (and some of us with more mature eyes).
Awkward Moment #3: Posing as a overposter
One of my biggest beefs with LinkedIn has always been its lack of ability to customize settings, despite many improvements and sophistication with other features. My only choices on broadcast settings (which trigger activity updates) are to turn on and off: profile changes, recommendations, or follow companies. Nothing about endorsements, “liking” an activity update, or many of the other actions on the site.
Enter the unintentional overposter. For instance, when I promote my latest blog post by starting a discussion on multiple groups, the activity update shows each time I do this, so it ends up looking like Janice Cuban update wallpaper, or should I say screen saver. The only solution is to manually go through and delete them all. And sometimes I forget.
Fix: Since LinkedIn seems to borrow plenty of user interface ideas from Facebook, why not take their ability to customize settings? Even though most of us have a love-hate relationship with Mark Zuckerberg’s baby, he gets props for giving us choices (some might argue they are over-engineered so we miss certain settings, but that’s for another post). For frequent LinkedIn users like myself, it is a missing opportunity and capability to tailor content. Note to LinkedIn: if you ever get better at customization, please don’t make it a “premium feature”.
Awkward Moment #4: Email notifications are (still) slow as snail mail
LinkedIn realized it needed a fix for its super sluggish email notification, but they didn’t solve the problem, they just covered it up with the red notification “flags” in the upper right corner of the site. This is great if you’re in the system or have notifications turned on in your app. But say you haven’t been on LinkedIn or miss that notification, it is not helpful. I personally had a lost “career” moment because I was never notified (ever) by email of a discussion comment from the CEO of a well-known PR site. Guess what he wanted? To republish a blog post. Three months later after I discovered it and approached him, somehow he wasn’t quite as responsive. The same is true for saved job searches, which also seem to go into a black hole. They randomly show up, and come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I got one.
Fix: Unless there is a stealthy little gremlin in the bowels of LinkedIn’s servers, this should be one of the easiest things they fix. Send the email when the activity occurs, not hours or a day later (or never). I can’t understand why this is so difficult to do with all the technology available to them. Just. Do. It.
Awkward Moment #5: Oops, a job congrats is not in order after all
Maybe you decided to add another description to your current position, or tweak your current title. If you do this, LinkedIn reads this as a new job altogether and posts this on your activity updates, along with a trigger to congratulate you (unless you have your profile settings broadcast turned off). In my world, the only time it’s appropriate to congratulate someone is if they have a “real” new job that they want to acknowledge as such. Sure it’s fine to notify your network if one word in your title got changed (if you’ve gone from Manager to Director, for instance) but I don’t want to “congratulate” someone who just got laid off either and puts “self employed”. I have been a victim of the foolery, congratulating an old colleague on his new consultancy and then realizing it was the day after a big layoff at his company. Awwwkward. (Luckily LinkedIn does let you remove comments—whew).
Fix: LinkedIn could add a customization feature where you can pick whether your title is a new one or revised from your current position, and if you want that “Congratulations” cue to show up (this goes back to Awkward Moment #3, give more options all around for customizing your settings).
Well…gotta end this blog now—posting it to LinkedIn means I need to be ready to delete those pesky activity updates.