Linkedin can be a great resource for anyone looking to break into high finance, but recently many have been made it into a Facebook for the back-office bound.
Here is a list of the 7 most common mistakes as assessed by our team and contacts across street:
Posts about your “great experience” at an internship or Signing an offer
Now that summer internships are wrapping up many college students are posting about what a great experience they had at their internships, and the value they were able to add…here’s the truth, as an intern you did not add any value. You might have helped ease the burden of tasks but in terms of actual value creation, no matter what you created or worked on, it was not a value-add and more importantly, no one in high finance thinks you did. Posting about how you are #blessed to have had the opportunity to intern at Morgan Stanley is more impressive to those outside of banking, than to those in it. Your work experience listing and headline are enough and do not require a post to supplement.
Posts about signing an offer are equally as bad for many of the same reasons as above. Bankers often ding kids who have posted about getting and signing offers.
Listing school clubs as work experience
If you are in your junior year internship this can be dropped from your work experience. It’s tolerable to keep your role as Portfolio Manager for XYZ Student Managed fund while you still don’t have actual industry experience. If you’re a rising senior or later in your career drop this from the work experience section to the club and activities section of your school.
Writing a Bio | Using Buzzwords in your Headline
No one cares how you would like to blend your poly-sci major with your passion for finance. Bio's are useless and lead to more laughs and jokes because of how unnatural and awkward they sound, than actually helping you stand out. You know how cover letter’s and purpose lines on resumes are useless in banking – your bio is the same as that.
On that note stay away from listing buzzwords in your headline - be direct about what role you are in or if you are a student. No “Investment Banker | Problem Solver | Thought Leader” style sensationalism - it just adds to more laughs at your expense.
Using InMail instead of email
Here’s a rookie mistake in networking. If you want to reach anyone in banking, email them on their work email. Don’t InMail. InMail is for sketchy salespeople and people you already know or don’t need an immediate response from. LinkedIn should be used to determine whether an alumnus works at a specific bank so that you can then go and find the email convention (WSO has a great compilation of these) and send a message straight to their work email.
Listing participation honors on your profile
Listing participation in conferences as a Forbes 30 under 30 “Scholar” or going to GAME conference as an honor or award is the equivalent of telling everyone about your participation trophy from intramural soccer. If you absolutely want to keep them on your profile, most definitely do not write a post about them or add them to your headline - include in extracurriculars and activities.
Writing a post about a lateral move
Unless you are a part of the founding team of a new startup, there is absolutely no reason to write a post about moving from one shop to another. When you change your current work experience, LinkedIn will automatically share the update.
“Incoming Investment banking summer analyst”
NEVER make your headline “Incoming Investment Banking Summer Analyst.” This used to be the biggest peeve of junior bankers (now it’s the posts at end of intership and about getting offers). The only reason anyone does this is to flex on their peers - while bankers across street will have had a laugh at your expense. If you need it for networking purposes, as previously mentioned, network via email and use the subject line and body of email to explain where you are going for the summer.
If you are an incoming banker, this too is typically unnecessary, you can update your headline once you start at the desk, but it’s much more acceptable here...if you absolutely must do it. A good way to think of it, is that people who are secure in their self worth don’t need to flex on their peers.
Essentially, a lot of this speaks to the idea that LinkedIn is to be used sparingly and not as a professional Facebook. Use it to compile contacts and to provide an up-to-date virtual copy of your resume, not to open yourself up to critique, or to look amateurish and out of depth. Why is it some hedge fund founders’ profiles look like a child put them together using a blackberry? Because they don’t care what anyone knows about them – they’re too busy working. Obviously don't make your profile that unprofessional, you aren't at the point where you can completely give zero hoots, but you can at least limit your exposure to criticism and mockery. Limit sharing posts to monumental achievements, and yet again that is not your internship at Morgan Stanley. Less is more.
Disclaimer: these notes are regarding usage of LinkedIn for the purpose of breaking into banking. If you are interested in the back-office or are not in the industry, please feel free to break all the above rules. Notes are also regarding high finance in the U.S. – these rules may not apply to other cultures and locations. Finally, the harshness of the tone is meant for equal parts comical relief and gravity. These are most definitely, things that are not kosher for banking but don’t beat yourself up if you have done any of them, just reverse course and correct!