With more than 259 million members, LinkedIn is the leading online social network for business and jobs. If you’re looking for a position, that may sound like too much competition! But if you’re an employer or a hiring manager, it sounds like a terrific pool of prospects. A recent survey by Bullhorn of 1,848 staffing professionals found that 97.3% used LinkedIn as a recruiting tool in 2012.
Which means that if you’re not there, you’re missing out.
But LinkedIn is much more than a bulletin board for job seekers. It’s a critical tool for developing, grooming and maintaining the relationships that can help you learn about job openings early—and give you an edge at the interview.
First, your profile. It must reflect your most accomplished, professional and hire-able self. If you already have connections on LinkedIn, temporarily turn off your activity broadcasts before you tweak your profile: that way you won’t annoy associates with constant notifications – or, if you are currently employed, tip off colleagues that you are getting ready to make a move.
Your profile should include a headline, and employ keywords that employers will use when searching for someone with your skills. Add a high-quality, recent, professional head shot. Your career history should be up-to-date and focused on accomplishments. Study the profiles of people you admire professionally.
Do you have a wide range of contacts? Don’t wait for people to connect with you—search for people you’ve worked with, then search their contacts for others you may know. Connect, connect, connect. Endorse your connections. You’re going to need these folks.
Solid recommendations in your profile will impress potential employers. Choose the people you ask to recommend you carefully—and offer to recommend them in return. Better yet, recommend a few colleagues and former co-workers without being asked. You’ll be surprised how many will reciprocate. Don’t sweat it if they don’t, though. You’re sending good karma out into the world. It will come back to you.
Contact your connections via inMail or email and let them know what kind of opportunity you are looking for. Ask for introductions to connections who can help.
It goes without saying that you should search the LinkedIn jobs database. But you should also search for the people who can help you find jobs. Change the “sorted by” option from keyword to “Degrees Away From You.” That will help you find the potential connections who can help you in your job search. Network your way towards them by asking your connection for an introduction.
Search for people who share connections with you and who hold the kind of position you’re seeking. Reach out to them for advice; offer coffee or lunch. Their experience is invaluable, and since they are not competing with you, they just might offer a lead.
Join LinkedIn groups, such as alumni networks and industry groups. Use these groups to network and contribute to discussions. Your succinct and thoughtful contributions will get you noticed. Convert the people you chat with to connections.
The better connected you are, the closer you will be to that next great opportunity. And while you’re at it, connect with us. Find out how we can help you connect with that next, great opportunity.