5 reasons to use only one LinkedIn profile

From time to time, folks tell me they want to have two LinkedIn accounts. Some of the reasons include:

  • “I don’t want my boss to know I’m job hunting, so I’ll have a separate account for job hunting!”
  • “I have a day job and a side hustle, so I need separate accounts for each.”
  • “I’m targeting jobs in marketing as well as jobs in HR, and have two separate resumes–so I need two LinkedIn profiles, too!”

Regardless of the situation, I always advise clients to use only one LinkedIn account.

Here are the top five reasons why I see two accounts as being problematic:

  1. If you’re going to get recommendations on both accounts, you’re potentially splitting that up, so rather than benefiting from four recommendations on your account, you might have two on Account #1 and the other two on Account #2. Or maybe four on Account #1 and zero on Account #2.
  2. Someone searching LI for your name will probably see both accounts in search results, and it’ll be confusing.
  3. If you’re trying to hide something from someone, they’re still going to be able to see it. Sometimes people have the mistaken impression that if they don’t connect with their boss, their boss won’t be able to view their LinkedIn account–so they assume that they can have one account where they connect with their boss, and a separate account that their boss will never see (NOT true; if it’s on LinkedIn, assume that ANYONE can see it).
  4. You’ll be limiting how many connections you’ll have in each account–instead of 600 connections in one account, you might have 400 in Account #1 and 200 in Account #2, which means that neither profile will be as search-optimized a single account with 600 connections. More connections means more visibility–with 600 connections, you’ll come up in search results more often than someone with 200 connections.
  5. It’s against LinkedIn’s user agreement to maintain more than one profile. It’s never a good idea to break the rules and risk being penalized! Similar to a driver’s license, a social media account is a privilege that can be revoked if they find you breaking the rules.

How to get by with one account

Hopefully you’re convinced to stick with one account; so now you might be wondering how to make one account work for you.

Keeping your job search secret

There’s plenty of ways you can keep your job search private. Turn off the notifications that automatically go out when you update your profile, as well as the notifications that go out when you join groups. Don’t say anything on your profile that would imply that you’re job-hunting. You can also include some wording on your profile that promotes your current employer’s mission or goals, which can help imply that you’re actually on LinkedIn to help them out rather than look for a job. Remember that there are plenty of reasons to be on LinkedIn other than job hunting, including keeping up on industry news and “buzz” through membership in industry groups on LinkedIn.

Highlighting your multiple interests or different “hats”

If you have two different job targets, it’ll be best if you identify one of them to focus your profile on, or find a way to highlight both of them in a cohesive manner. This is just one more reason it’s best to try being as focused as possible in your job search. The less job targets, the better.

If you have a day job and a side hustle, you can include both on your profile, and decide which will be your priority for LinkedIn. Ask yourself: is LinkedIn important for your day job? Is it a primary way you expect to gain customers for your side hustle? Remember that LinkedIn is geared toward businesspeople.

If your day job is enterprise software sales and your side hustle is selling kids’ T-shirts online, platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest might be more helpful for the T-shirt business, while LinkedIn might be more helpful for the enterprise software sales.

With a little effort, you can make a single LinkedIn profile work for you!