LinkedIn calls itself the “world's largest professional network,” and it may very well be. It has 100+ million users from around the globe. The key here is its business focus. Of the social networking sites, LinkedIn is decidedly the most professionally oriented, making it a natural place for job seekers to go to make connections. In fact, LinkedIn was initially launched primarily for this reason, and many of its users interact specifically to find jobs—or employees. Hiring managers and recruiters use LinkedIn to search for job candidates because it is cost-effective and it helps them find qualified employees through simple keyword searches.
LinkedIn can be used both actively and passively in your search for a job. From a passive perspective, you should make sure to develop a profile and post your resume so that employers and recruiters can find you.
From an active perspective, use the search tools on LinkedIn to search for jobs in your areas of interest, skill level, geography, or salary range. The “Jobs” tab has an advanced search function that lets you search based on a variety of criteria. Some jobs are only posted on LinkedIn.
Also be sure to be an active participant online, but gear your participation toward your career goals; this is not the time or place to share personal revelations or insights. Keep it job focused!
An older job seeker posted his resume on LinkedIn full of keywords designed to draw attention to his experience as a marketer in the utility industry. It wasn't long before he was contacted by a recruiter from a Fortune 500 company for an introductory interview. He wowed them—and ultimately landed a job.
LinkedIn Job Search Best Practices
While all of the social media tools can hold value for job seekers, Linked-In is the tool most used by job seekers and employers, so it is worth spending some time talking specifically about best practices when using this tool.
LinkedIn is generally considered to be the social media site for job seekers. It's the most professional of the social media options and is frequented by business people, consultants, entrepreneurs, recruiters, and HR professionals who are highly interested in finding the right people to help make their businesses successful.
For job seekers, having a presence on LinkedIn is a must. But you need to be thoughtful and strategic in your use of LinkedIn, both to ensure your success and to maximize your time.
First, understand how important it is for you to develop and manage your “brand” on LinkedIn. This starts with the creation of a profile designed to position you for your desired position. Your profile must include a professional photo of you; not having a photo sends a signal that you are an amateur when it comes to the LinkedIn world. If you don't have a professional photo, it's worth having one taken. You want to convey the best image possible—your phone's camera is probably not the best option here. Unless you know someone with a high-quality digital camera that is a good photographer, it's worthwhile to spend the money to get a professional shot.
It is also important for your profile to include the keywords that recruiters and employers may be using when they're searching for candidates with your skills. Choose characteristics that will stand out to potential employers and that are relevant and desirable in your target industry. Summarize your personal brand with a concise and eye-catching sentence or two and make it one of the first things people see when they view your profile. Think of your personal brand as the headline of your LinkedIn page; something that will make people want to look through the rest of your profile in more detail.
Develop good “job search karma.” If you find a job that isn't quite right for you but might be good for someone else in your network, let them know about the opportunity. They will be more likely to return the favor down the road.
Use LinkedIn in conjunction with traditional networking activities to get your foot in the door of companies you are interested in. Find friends of friends, fellow alums, or any other common ground to connect with people in your target companies. Try to find out if there are any upcoming events you might both be attending and use the experiences or acquaintances you have in common to introduce yourself and get to know the company. Don't be afraid to e-mail people in your network and ask to do an informational interview about the company or a position you are interested in.