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5 Reasons IT Contractors Should Not Have a LinkedIn Profile

After getting our own insta-ban from LinkedIn, we researched our article to look into how other people have been banned. With some interesting results. Filtering out the racists and gun-nuts, we found that many bans are issued to people for doing precisely what LinkedIn encourages them to do. While the scammers and spammers remain unmolested.

Here are five reasons why IT contractors should not have a profile on LinkedIn (henceforth LI).

1 – You Didn’t Work for Those Companies

If we want to show what we have worked on in the past we would list our previous contracts and what we did and who we did them for. However, we never had employment contracts with the end clients. Our contracts were with the agency, the umbrella, or our Limited Liability Companies. Nowadays all three, with a few more middle-men thrown in.

LinkedIn require to list our employers. Not their clients. People have been banned from LI for lofty-sounding reasons such as, “inaccuracies in your description of a previous project“. (ibid, comments section)

It only takes one over-efficient person in HR, or one former manager who didn’t like the cut of your jib, to register a complaint that you were never employed by their company, and you will be banned without warning. An agent could mail them and tell that at the time of a project listed on your profile, you were in fact employed by him, and there goes your account.

You will be presumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent, and LI customer support has some of the lowest ratings in the world. That will not be a pleasent experience if you’ve allowed yourself to become reliant on the network for your contracts.

On the other hand, if we list a bunch of agencies that we had contracts with, as the LI EULA requires of us, how is that going to illustrate to anybody what we actually do? Somebody who is hiring for a developer for a bank is likely to skip over those applicants who appear to have only ever worked for “employment businesses”, and not do a deep-dive into the details of our engagements.

Indeed, if we list agencies as our employers, as we are required to do, it’s unlikely that we will even show up in the searches recruiters do.

2 – You Have Applied For a Job That Does Not Fit Your Profile

Or the variant, you have been applying for too many jobs. Now you might ask who does LI think it is to decide which jobs do and do not fit your profile or how many you should be applying for? Aren’t they constantly bombarding you with motivational one-liners urging you to do something different and think out of the box? Aren’t they telling you to keep trying until you’re successful? And then they damn you for doing just that.

But this is not LI talking. This is the voice of their customer. Some over-worked, under-qualified asshole in HR, without a clue what the requirements of the job actually mean, working out her frustrations on you by complaining that you are spamming job applications for jobs she thinks you can’t do.

Who do you think LI will serve? You and your free account? Or the demands of their advertisers, no matter how unfair or transparently vengeful?

It’s the Internet. If you’re not paying for the service, you’re part of the service.

LI may also have on-board monitoring, looking for software bots or industrious recruitment agents, that are screen-scraping or robo-applying for jobs. This monitoring will be calibrated towards the occasional LI-approved job-seeking activity of the permantly employed careerist and will not take the different needs of contractors into consideration.

When applying through LI, beware. Before doing so, check if the job is on the advertiser’s own website and apply there. Cutting LI out of your application will also help you avoid the third reason not to use LI.

3 – They Tell Recruiters Who You’ve Applied With

They are hardly alone in this. JobServe also have a service where agents can pay to see what other jobs you’ve applied for. Your privacy be damned.

Your job applications are also likely to suffer initial review by a junior recruiter who will have been ‘trained’ that people who have done “lots of jobs are unreliable“, and who will not even know what a contractor is.

4 – Too Many People Have Been Viewing Your Profile

What is the point of having a profile, if you risk getting banned when ‘too many’ people look at it? What can you possibly do to stop them? One can understand LI not wanting you to perv large numbers of profiles yourself, since you do not have a legitimate use for so much data. But if a lot of people are looking at your profile? How’s that your fault? For being interesting and employable, perhaps?

Again, isn’t that the entire point of creating a profile?

5 – Three People Have IDK

When you issue a connect request people can either accept the request, or deny it with “I Don’t Know” (IDK), meaning that they don’t know who you are. If you get three of these IDKs over the life of your account, you get restricted. A partial ban, this one, which can be lifted only by grovelling to LI support, with an average two-to-three week wait in the limbo of the LinkedIn Groveller’s Queue. Some say it’s five IDK now, so maybe they’ve ‘loosened up’.

This frequently happens when you upload a contacts file. If you have a lot of contacts, as contractors usually do, it only takes a few of them to IDK and you’re out on your ear. Most people don’t know what the consequences of their IDK can be. That there is between a 20-33% chance that every time you IDK, that person will have their account restricted. So this is fairly common.

Screw LI Before LI Screws You

IDKs are a good way to screw with cowboy agents. Invite them to send you connection request by email or through your CV, then IDK ’em. At least one in five times they will get restricted. Then after they’ve grovelled to get their account back, do it again.

There are, of course, plenty of other things that can get you banned or restricted without warning. Somebody takes issue to a comment you made. The moderator of a group you’re in doesn’t like you anymore. You decide to make use of a new feature rolled-out by LI that hasn’t been properly tested against the spam-detection systems. You seem to know and interact with more people than LI consider appropriate for someone of your station.

All of these things people have reported being banned for.

Contractors today are far more likely to be hired if they run their own websites. Where they do use LI, they’ve filled the profile with machine readable key-words for the search engines, and given human-readers a direct link to their own website right at the top.

They’ll still get banned, but at least by maintaining their own website they’ve kept control over their content and did not lose it all because some prick at LI customer support, likely working for a couple of dollars a day, decided to delete them from the Internet because he thought they might be a homophobe or something.