It's estimated that 90 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, which means ignoring the site during a job search is sort of like tossing your resume in a shredder and hoping someone finds it and pieces it back together.
That's not likely to happen, and neither are you likely to find the most available jobs or contacts if you're ignoring LinkedIn. While you may think you shouldn't use LinkedIn because you're still in school or don't have much experience, you're wrong. LinkedIn is an incredible tool for catching the eyes of a recruiters; it's also one of the best professional networking tools online. Your lack of a LinkedIn presence not only makes you invisible to recruiters, it may cause them concern about why you don't have a profile.
Establishing your LinkedIn presence shouldn't be taken lightly. It's not Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, for sure—there are tips for using LinkedIn to find a job that are different from other online social sites. LinkedIn is meant to be a reflection of your professional abilities, and you have to consider that it's going to be perused by people who don't know you. So that means no off-color jokes, no political diatribes, and no mention of a drunken brawl. You want a company to want to have you on staff – you don't want them posting a "do not hire" note in your file.
Here are 10 tips for using LinkedIn to find a job:
1. Set up a profile
First things first—you need to set up a LinkedIn profile if you don't have one already. Listing your education and the location where you want to work, and including a head shot of professional quality, are all keys to grabbing the notice of a recruiter. Use at least a 40-word summary to talk about your skills, motivations, and interests. Use a headline that showcases your "so what" to a recruiter such as: "Certified project manager known for successfully leading multi-million dollar projects in developing countries." Also, use the first-person voice.
2. Look for connections
Once your profile is set up, search LinkedIn for current and previous work colleagues, supervisors, and bosses to connect with, as well as friends. Establishing connections on LinkedIn will provide you with easy routes to professional networking, and allow you to discover employment opportunities you that you previously didn't know existed. Say for example you connect with a boss from a previous job. And say that same boss now works for a company you want to work for. If there's a job opening at said company, your previous boss could help you get your foot in the door.
Once you are linked to someone, the connection possibilities don't end. Who is your new connection linked to? Check out the profiles and see if there is someone you'd like to meet. You can either ask your new connection to make an introduction, or reach out directly.
3. Include keywords
Just as you use keywords in your resume and cover letter to attract an employer's interest, the same thing is true on LinkedIn. Check out job descriptions that interest you and try to use a handful of words that seem to be included in those ads such as "team player" or "multi-tasker." Do industry-specific keyword research for your LinkedIn profile.
4. Follow companies
One of the most crucial tips for using LinkedIn to find a job involves following companies. This may sound a bit stalkerish at first, but following companies is a great way to learn more about a particular company and its culture, and also to stay abreast of any job openings they have now (or down the road).
5. Look for super connectors
Search for terms like "author" "speaker" or "award-winning" as these indicate a LinkedIn member who is highly visible and probably the kind of networker that can help you meet others. However, you need to be a worthwhile connection: consider reading the member's book (if they have one) and post a review, attend a seminar where the member is speaking, or post a blog post from the member's website on other social media pages.
LinkedIn is meant to be a reflection of your professional abilities, and you have to consider that it's going to be perused by people who don't know you. So that means no off-color jokes, no political diatribes, and no mention of a drunken brawl. You want a company to want to have you on staff – you don't want them posting a "do not hire" note in your file.
6. Stay active
Networks work best when you stay in touch with your contacts, and that's pretty easy to do on LinkedIn. Many in your network will share blog posts or thoughts about industry happenings, and you can comment or simply "like" their contributions. Post content that you think will be helpful to your network, such as new productivity apps or news on industry trends. Think about asking a question that will provoke responses/dialogue, such as "How do you stay productive while traveling?"
7. Make it personal
Another one of the crucial tips for using LinkedIn to find a job involves personalization. If you ask to connect to someone you don't know, be sure to personalize your message. Do not rely on a generic connection message. Try: "Hi Laura! I noticed in your profile that you're in project management, and I've been in that field for the last couple of years. I'd like to connect." In the early days of LinkedIn, people used to only connect to people they knew. But now, more people connect to others who have similar interests, or even went to the same school. Check out this article on etiquette for connecting to strangers on LinkedIn.
8. Consider LinkedIn Premium
LinkedIn Premium can cost $30 to $120 a month, but many users say it's worth the money, as it gives them access to those they are not connected to. With this service, you can use InMail messages, access more company data, and get real-time insights. This service can also provide salary insights.
9. Ask for endorsements
It can be daunting to ask for someone to endorse you, but it's no different than asking for a job reference. Did you work tirelessly as a volunteer? Tackle a big reorganization project and complete it ahead of schedule? Were you an all-around rock star employee? Then why not ask the person in charge if he/she would post a brief endorsement of your skills, such as being a great multi tasker, or having the ability to work with a diverse group of people? If you keep it simple and ask someone to mention one or two relevant points, chances are good that you'll get that endorsement – and help make you more attractive to employers.
10. Join groups
There are hundreds of different groups on LinkedIn, from college alumni groups to industry associations. By joining one and participating, you start to establish yourself in that arena. Establish yourself enough and you can become known as an expert. Joining groups can also be a way for you to break into a new industry or forge a new career path. By showing you've done your homework and are offering opinions that are backed up with facts, you can show you're someone who is knowledgeable in an area, and perhaps even offer new insights that might attract employers.
Setting up your LinkedIn profile can take some time, but it is well worth the effort. Once you start making connections and establishing your professional reputation online, you'll be on your to becoming a LinkedIn master! Once you've got your profile set up, consider downloading the app to your smart phone to make it even easier to stay active with your network and groups.