Finding a Job - Using Social Media: LinkedIn

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By far the most business-oriented of the large social media sites, LinkedIn is a network of professionals who connect according to common industry, geography, specialties, career goals, ideas, and more.  Used correctly, it conveys the same information as a good resume and establishes an entire host of relationships that cannot be targeted using traditional job search methods.

Step 1: Create a Profile

Your online LinkedIn profile is like a great resume, interview, and reference document all in one.  Each profile is full of useful information for professionals to advertise themselves (current position, past employment, experience, goals, professional affinities, etc.).  Pay close attention to the content, layout, and organization of your LinkedIn profile. When networking online, your profile may be the first impression that others have about you, so you’ll want to have a clear and direct message of your skills and values from the very start.  Also remember that your LinkedIn profile is never “done” in the sense that it will always need periodic updates.  Change happens fast in the technological age, and your profile should always accurately represent your current information.

  • Create your profile by going to the main LinkedIn site.
  • Pack your profile with relevant key words that convey your skills and values.
  • Double check all spelling and grammar.
  • Think of an employer scanning your profile – what do they see? Make sure they catch all the important things.
  • Manually update your headline with a catchy but professional phrase that conveys your brand. Show your unique qualities.
  • Use your summary to expand your headline. Don’t just re-list your experience. Rather, emphasize qualities that you want them to pick up from your resume.
  • Link your profile to all other social networks that you use. If an employer finds ANYTHING about you, they should be able to see EVERYTHING about you that proves you are professional and well rounded.
  • Use applications to import your blog entries or slideshows you’ve created.
  • Claim your name as your Public Profile URL so that potential employers can easily find you.
  • Make sure your profile is 100% complete.

Step 2: Connect

You need to be strategic with your profile. Once you have crafted a profile that represents your skills, the next step is to locate people who also have LinkedIn profiles and “establish connections” with them. 

  • Start by connecting with friends and family.
  • Then, move onto people you’ve worked with in the past or currently.
  • Connect strategically. Having a lot of connections is not useful to you if those connections can’t vouch for you or know enough about you to recommend you for a position.
  • Don’t use the standard connection request. Customize your message so that people know who you are.

Step 3: Get Recommendations

When asking for a recommendation, ask a range of people who can talk about different aspects of your brand. Think about supervisors, classmates and professors who can talk about:

  • your greatest strength
  • your ability to work on a team
  • how you manage your greatest weakness
  • your leadership capabilities

It’s important to be strategic about who you ask since their recommendation will appear on your profile.  Therefore you need to ensure that it is exactly how you want it to appear, following the rules good grammar, good spelling and conveys a message that speaks to your brand, (keeping in mind that you can’t edit what they write). Similar to a connection request, you want to steer away from using the stock response. Try to get at least one recommendation for each work experience. Think about what you want the recommender to focus on and who can best write that recommendation.

Step 4: Join Groups

Groups on LinkedIn are a great way to find people with shared interests and to connect with potential clients. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn so it’s important that you evaluate the groups before your join. What are your goals in meeting people? If you are looking for like-minded professionals, try searching for your industry keywords. Once you have found a list of groups based on keywords of interest, think about the following:

  • Who is in the group? Are they a mix of people that you know and don’t know? If so, it will help you integrate into the community more quickly.
  • How many people are in the group? This is not a "more is better" approach, but it’s something to pay attention to and will be based on your goals. Sometimes a small group of 30 is the perfect intimate setting for good relationship building. For others, they will be looking for a larger group that will expose them to a wide range of diverse people.
  • How active is the group? You will find that many groups were started, but never maintained. You want to make sure you join a group that is active enough to keep you busy and involved. 

Once you choose groups that you want to be a part of, you must try to integrate yourself. Rather than asking everyone in the group to connect with you, take a few days or weeks to read what is being said on the discussion boards and on the news feeds. Sit back and take it all in. Then, begin by commenting on other posts before you jump in and start posting unique content. Remember that social media is all about relationships so your goal is to find professionals that you can relate to and THEN add them to your network.

Step 5: Job Search

There are two main aspects of LinkedIn that can be directly helpful to your job search. They are the Company Search and the Job Search.

The Company Search on LinkedIn is especially helpful if you know of an organization that interests you. Simply search for it on LinkedIn and you will see stats on the company, current employees, former employees and many other interesting pieces of information. You can use this search to find a contact at a firm or to set up an informational interview with someone in a department that interests you. Access to these kinds of databases is unprecedented and gives you a huge advantage as a job seeker.

The Job Search on LinkedIn is similar to platforms you might already be familiar with like Monster.com, but there is one added benefit. In addition to your ability to search by job title and other keywords, LinkedIn will show you who you are connected with at those companies. This is a huge advantage because it saves you a huge amount of research.

Check out the following helpful resources on LinkedIn’s Job Search.

LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium Account

LinkedIn Learning Center for Job Seekers

About.com Job Searching on LinkedIn

The key is to be proactive: don’t let your job search be dictated by chance.  Instead, take charge of the resources at your fingertips to establish relationships in a clear, logical direction.

Step 6: Maintain

As mentioned earlier, it’s very important for you to maintain your LinkedIn profile even after you have found a job. Update your profile, seek recommendations from colleagues and continue to grow your network as you meet other professionals in your industry.  Don’t wait until the last minute when you need the network.