It hurts my heart when job seekers tell me they’ve been told that LinkedIn will be the reason for their success in finding a job. I mean it’s great that they’re using LinkedIn as part of their job search, but they have the misconception that LinkedIn is a job search tool that will deliver jobs to their lap.
LinkedIn is a networking application that was originally developed to help businesses network with other businesses, build leads, and help in sales and marketing. Which is precisely why job seekers should use to network and market their product (themselves); but in order to do this they need to clearly understand the purpose of LinkedIn.
And this is the conundrum—many job seekers only become active on LinkedIn when they need a job. This is a common scenario: their profile is incomplete, they have 25 connections, haven’t joined any groups, and spend one day a week on LinkedIn….But hope is not lost. What these job seekers need to do about this problem is work their arse off.
An example of someone who understood the purpose of LinkedIn is one of my former customers who wrote a stellar LinkedIn profile, based on my advice, and researching other people in her industry. She also used the Companies feature to identify the top players there. She shared relevant information with her connections, which drew the attention of recruiters and hiring manager. In other words, she put the work into using LinkedIn for her job search.
So what does it look like to work your arse off on LinkedIn, to take full advantage of what it offers?
- First and foremost a complete profile which will include:
- A professional photo that best reflects your industry. If you’re customer facing, you’ll dress to the nines. An engineer, most likely business casual is fine.
- A branding headline that tells more than your occupation. It also shows the value you can bring to an employer.
- A creative and somewhat lengthier Summary. (Some say it should be short. Let’s agree to disagree.) This is where you should indicate you’re actively seeking employment.
- An Experience section that focuses on accomplishments more than basic duties. The mundane duties might be on your résumé. You want to highlight the great things you did.
- Keywords that will help you get found. After optimizing her profile, my former customer said she went from close to 100 in rankings to 13.
- Demonstrate commitment by spending at least four times a week on LinkedIn. For the diligent job seekers, every day of the week should be the norm. Spend at least 15 minutes a day on the platform. LinkedIn never sleeps; it’s 24×7. But don’t overdue it.
- Frequent updates at least once a day. Occasionally you can explain your situation but not every day. Your updates can also include industry news, questions you have, sharing articles and media, tips or advice, and more.
- What I call phase two of a successful LinkedIn campaign is accumulating quality connections, totaling at least 250 over a two-month period. Twenty connections will not impress anyone. You’ll be seen as timid and afraid to develop relationships. As well, your search engine optimization (SEO) will suffer, unless your a taxidermist.
- Playing the Skills and Endorsement game, where you can list as many as 50 skills and be endorsed for those skills. All one needs to do is click on any of your skills to endorse you. Can you tell I’m not a big fan of this feature?
- Acquiring recommendations. This feature was once considered for 100% completion but was taken over by Skills and Endorsements. Request recommendations from former employers who are your 1st degree connections.
- Joining groups that are compatible with your occupation and industry; for example, I would never join an IT group. But, like me, you might be interested in a variety of occupations or industries, such as social media, career development, and education.
- Use one of LinkedIn’s best features, Companies, to locate key players in your job search—the better to get your résumés in their hands.
- Use LinkedIn’s Jobs feature which has been enhanced to include demographic information, including other positions viewed by job seekers, who you know at the company, the ability to apply to the company on its website. For Premium members there are additional features that give you access to big players and provide you with demographics.
- Finally, keep your engagement on LinkedIn professional. If you are more of a Facebook fan, refrain from posting family photos, video of the presidential primaries, and no mention of your frustration in your job search. Be relevant.
Do you get the sense that LinkedIn will require hard work and may not yield immediate results? Good. Do you also feel that joining LinkedIn on the bottom floor will be to your benefit, as opposed to giving up on it? Good.
There’s one more thing to consider. Once you’ve created a great LinkedIn profile, have established a presence, and are active on LinkedIn leading to a job; don’t give up your activity on LinkedIn. You may need your network in the future. This time instead of having four measly connections, you’ll have hundreds.
Photo: Flickr, João Guilherme de Carvalho Barbosa