If you are job hunting, you have to be on LinkedIn.
Recent estimates show that 97 percent of U.S. recruiters are using LinkedIn to post jobs and search for candidates this year; more than 70 percent of them are ONLY using LinkedIn.
But the secret is not to just "be" on LinkedIn, but to make it work for you.
Here are easy ways to help grab the attention of recruiters:
1) Check your photo. Make sure your photo is professional and doesn't include kids or pets; this is much different from Facebook in that way. And remember that your photo is what follows you around the site so make sure that it is in focus and close enough that people can see your face.
2) Perfect your profile. Your summary section should contain the key information about you and what sort of position you are searching for. It shouldn’t just be a recitation of our resume, but rather a few paragraphs that describe you and why you would be a great employee. For example, you can include achievements from past positions, highlights of your career to date and qualities that you offer, such as attention to detail, team focus, etc.
3) Make sure your “summary” contains an appealing description of who you are. The little snippet under your photo is what people see first, so make sure it's descriptive. Whatever job you are searching for, give a concise summary of what it is so it's clear that you are searching. For example, “Experienced Accountant Currently Searching for New Opportunities.”
4) Include the keywords people will be searching for. Have you heard of the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? It means that your profile should include words that will ensure you show up in searches. So, if you are looking for a position in a certain geographic area, make sure to include that. Or if you are willing to relocate, add that. Try to include the "buzzwords" for your industry that people might be searching for, whether it's a certain computer program, or a sector where you specialize in. For example, if you are a graphic designer, add that you do work for the hospitality sector, professional services firms and restaurants, or whatever is applicable.
5) Have a decent number of connections. In most cases, quality is more important than quantity, but you also want to have enough connections that you look like someone who is "known." Many people strive for the 500+ designation but anywhere in the 200 - 300 range is acceptable. Not sure where to find connections? Make sure you've added former colleagues, but think beyond the obvious to neighbors, friends, former schoolmates and the like. You never know whom they might know that you want to connect with.
6) Be active in Groups. This is one of the most often overlooked goldmines on LinkedIn. There are thousands of groups, so find ones that cater to your profession but also look for ones in your geographical area and even your alumni association. You can join up to 50 groups, but you also want to remember that you don’t want to follow too many as it can get overwhelming. It's not enough to just be in the group; you want to try to make meaningful connections, so being active is key. Add your insight and opinion on existing threads and start your own by sharing a topical article as well as your personal insights. If there's someone that you are interacting with in the group, send them a connection request. Rather than using the default message, add in a personalized note so they don't think it's a random request.
See Smart Ways to Increase Your LinkedIn Profile Visibility in No Time and Join the Club! LinkedIn Groups Can Improve Your Networking Game for more tips on how to make the most of LinkedIn groups.
7) Follow companies that interest you. Go to search and type in a company name, and up will pop people who work there, but also the company itself with a “follow” button. This means that you will get all the news that they post, whether you are connected with someone in the company or not. It's a great way to be in the know, even if you don't specifically know anyone. Once you are following a specific company, you can share their news as appropriate and that can help get you on their radar screen.
8) Look at people’s profiles judiciously. When you are looking at someone’s profile, you can choose how you show up – either your entire profile with name and photo will show, or just your industry, or you can show up as anonymous. There are strategic reasons to show your name/profile, because it can pique someone's interest in you. But if you are doing a lot of looking, sometimes it's good to make yourself anonymous for the session. Don't forget to go back in and change it to your full profile after you've completed your sleuthing.
9) Mine your own contacts. When you have some time, take a look at your contacts' contacts to see if they know someone at a company that interests you. If you find a match, message the person you know and ask them how they know the person. It might be that they don't know them well as not every connection on LinkedIn is deep, but for all you know, they are former colleagues. That means you can ask for an introduction – a warm introduction is much better than you just emailing your potential contact out of the blue.
10) Search actively. The search box is very helpful to drill down to people at certain companies. Once you find them you can go to their contacts and see if you know anyone in common.
11) Post frequently. Make use of the news feed to stay on people’s radar screens. Post news of interest to your industry and actively share and comment on others' posts. That has a dual purpose – they will see that you shared or commented on their content, and it means that you will show up in the news feeds of all your followers every time you post something.
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LinkedIn is one of the best job hunting resources out there. Recruiters are there – and so you should be too. The key is to make sure that you are staying active, not just passively putting up your profile and letting it sit there. Maintaining a robust involvement on LinkedIn should be an integral part of your job hunting strategy.