LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site available today. It provides a way to connect with other professionals and helps you stay in contact with millions of users using a professional platform to keep in touch. LinkedIn is strictly used for exchanging knowledge, ideas, and opportunities and has increasingly become a leader in helping individuals find groups of interest as well as jobs in their field.
LinkedIn is the whole package. Simply put, it is a professional way to promote your identity online. It is usually one of the first to show up in search engine results when using it to find people. It is also a great way to maintain your online image and be able to connect with old contacts, as well as make new ones by joining groups and asking others to connect with you online.
As employers are increasingly researching people online, LinkedIn includes your education, experience, connections, groups, etc., and you can even include your resume, blog, and website all on one site. As a member of LinkedIn, others will be able to find you even if you move or change jobs. Updating your LinkedIn profile keeps others abreast of what you’re doing and what changes you are making in your professional life.
By using LinkedIn tools such as Search, Answers, and Groups you can stay up-to-date with the latest information in the field. It’s also a great job-search tool that can connect you with career opportunities, sales leads, as well as sought after job posts. LinkedIn’s Job Board shows who you may know at companies that are listed and can make it easy for you to connect instantly online.
As arguably the most valuable of all social media tools, keeping your LinkedIn profile up to scratch is absolutely vital.
Complete your profile
When using LinkedIn to find a job, it is essential to make sure that your profile is fully completed. Give succinct information on what each of your last jobs entailed. Make sure you include keywords in your descriptions and job titles so that if people search LinkedIn then you will show up in their search results – this is particularly useful for if/when employers or recruiters are looking for people with certain skill sets or experience to fill a job. Treat your LinkedIn profile like your online CV and don’t leave out anything that you would have on your CV hardcopy.
Update your profile
Show how interested you are in your chosen industry by sharing interesting industry news or resources that may attract the attention of other users. This will help to position you as both knowledgeable of that industry and enthusiastic. Post anything of similar interest on your LinkedIn status and this will then appear on both the newsfeed and on your profile for all of your connections to see.
There is a Recommendations section on your profile where you can get past or present employers or clients to write you a recommendation, just like an online collection of references. A glowing recommendation will speak volumes about you, just as a hardcopy recommendation would.
Research employers in your industry
Use the search tool in LinkedIn to find potential employers within your industry. By searching for jobs in your industry, you will instantaneously whittle down the list of potential employees to a more specific group. Once you’ve got a list of potential employers, you can search for the company names on LinkedIn and follow their company pages. This way, if they advertise jobs on their LinkedIn pages, they will appear on your newsfeed. Once you’re following the company you can look at their employees through their company page and see if you can find the name of the HR manager or hiring manager in order to contact them to enquire about vacancies and to send your CV. You can also look for the companies’ websites online and see if they are advertising any jobs on there (if they are not already advertised on LinkedIn).
Connect with people/Build your network
When trying to expand your network on LinkedIn, it is important not to add ‘anyone and everyone’ by sending the standard request. This is bad LinkedIn etiquette and will probably end with LinkedIn restricting your account so that you can’t invite anyone to connect without first having their email address. It is therefore best to request to connect with someone by sending them a little message with the invitation. Your goal is to network with people working in the industry that you are trying to get into, in an area that you want to work in or local to you. This is so that you can join in on discussions, get yourself known, make enquiries and hear about opportunities. The best people to connect with are HR staff or hiring managers at companies that you would like to work for. Reach out to people and let them know that you admire the company they work for and would love to work there in the future. Ask people for some industry advice or tips, find some common ground to discuss with them or mention to them that you’re part of the same group or have a connection in common, but don’t just blindly send an invitation to connect without a personal message.
Search for and apply for jobs
There is a section dedicated to jobs on LinkedIn where you can perform a search for jobs close to your postcode in a certain industry, or with certain keywords in the job title. Remember that when you apply for jobs through LinkedIn the employer will be looking at your LinkedIn profile as though it were your CV. Make sure that any information that you would want on your CV (such as software that you are comfortable using, skills that you learnt, achievements in past jobs, any examples of your work, etc.) is on your LinkedIn profile.
Join in discussions
This could be in response to your connection statuses, company statuses or discussions in LinkedIn groups. Join a few industry related groups or local groups and join in some discussions. Once you’ve had a chat with someone they will be more willing to accept your invitation to connect, further helping you along your way to building your professional network. It’ll also position you as knowledgeable in your industry if you join in industry related discussions with local people.
Follow recruitment agencies
Lots of recruitment agencies now operate social recruiting via social media as well. If you follow the company pages on social media, it is more than likely that all job offers are on there, as well as job hunting advice, resources and hints and tips. Most recruiters will be happy to connect with you if you send a request and explain that you’re looking for work. They may also be able to put you forward for some jobs that you hadn’t been aware of.
A complete profile gives you the best possible chance to come up in searches, optimising your chances of the right people finding your profile and developing the right connections. Another tool offered by LinkedIn that many of us refrain from using is recommendations. You can leave a recommendation for a past colleague, which will usually prompt them to leave one for you. Just like a review for a book or film, LinkedIn recommendations encourage others to believe in your profile.
Finally, many users are unaware that Linkedin offers personalised URLs. This means that your whole name or keywords describing your profession can come up at the end of your URL, rather than the jumble of letters and numbers that are generated automatically. Not only does this personalisation look more professional, it also helps your profile’s SEO (helping your profile feature highly in searches). This change can be made through a quick adjustment in your account settings, so there’s no excuse not to! Key words are enormously helpful for your SEO, but not just in your URL. They are also useful in descriptions of what you’re looking for and previous work experience.
LinkedIn is undoubtedly a fantastic job search tool. Pro-activity will ensure that you get noticed by others for your interests and opinions and a complete profile will help you come up in searches. With just a little time and attention, your profile will be optimised to support your job search.