7 Steps to take when using LinkedIn to network for a job

You’ve heard it before: LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional, online networking application with approximately 700 million worldwide members. And according to many sources, at least 87 percent of recruiters are sourcing for talent on LinkedIn.

Woman using computer

Here’s another fact that I can personally attest to: most recruiters with whom I’ve spoken tell me that LinkedIn is their site of choice when it comes to looking for talent. Not Indeed.com, Monstor.com, SimplyHired.com, or any of the other job boards.

Shouldn’t these facts be enough to use LinkedIn for you job search? Now, here’s the question: how can you most effectively use LinkedIn to network for a job?

1. LinkedIn is more than your online résumé

Networking on LinkedIn begins with your profile and the understanding that it’s not your résumé. Here’s where I contradict myself: I suggest to my client that their first move is to copy and paste their résumé to their new LinkedIn profile. But wait.

From there, however, you need to add to it to make it more of a networking document that expresses your value, while also showing your personality. For example, your About section must tell a story describing your passion for what you do, how you do what you do, and throw in some accomplishments to immediately sell yourself.

Your Experience section must include accomplishment statements with quantified results that include numbers, dollars, and percentages. I prefer that each position comprise only of accomplishments and not mundane duties you performed for each position.

Also important is that your LinkedIn profile is optimized for keyword searches by recruiters and hiring managers. They’re looking for a specific title, vital areas of expertise, and location. For example: “sales operations” AND crm “lead generation” AND pharmaceutical AND “greater boston”. 

To learn more about how the résumé and LinkedIn profile differ, read The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: 12 areas

2. Use LinkedIn to find people at your desired companies

Perhaps one of LinkedIn’s greatest strengths is the ability to locate the key players at the companies for which you’d like to work. My suggestion is that first you create a list of your target companies and from there connect with people in those companies, ideally a level above you.

All Filters will be your best friend when it comes to locating people at your desired companies. You can use it to narrow down to the exact titles of the people for whom you’re looking. Important criteria would be Current Company, Industry, and Title. Choose 2nd degree as they’re more likely to connect with you.

When you’re using All Filters to locate people in your desired companies, make note of your mutual connections and the schools they attended. This can come into play when you write your personal invite.

Read 7 steps to take to find the right person using LinkedIn’s All Filters.

3. Solidifying relationships

Building relationships on LinkedIn can be a longer, more methodical process or a shorter one, where you and your connections hit it off immediately. To find a job using LinkedIn, building and solidifying relationships is an important aspect of the journey.

There are ways to go about getting noticed by the people with whom you’d like to connect:

  1. First follow said people.
  2. When you visit their profile, show your profile (don’t choose Anonymous LinkedIn Member).
  3. Thoughtfully comment on their posts.
  4. Wait to see if they reach out to you first—I’ve reached out to numerous people because of the comments they’ve left on my posts.
  5. Finally, ask to connect with them using a personalized message, not the default LinkedIn one.

Note: Your connections who work in your desired companies will be more likely to except your invite if they know one of your connections very well. Make sure to include your mutual connection in your invite letter.

Just recently one of my clients asked if I would introduce her to a person who works at one of her target companies. I was glad to do it. So now they have to develop a relationship that will be of benefit to her and him.

Read 3 proper ways for job seekers to send invites on LinkedIn.

4. Make use of your new connections

Once you’ve built your foundation at your target companies, you can ask for introductions to the individuals who would be making the hiring decisions. You don’t want to do this immediately, because hiring managers will be less likely to connect with you without an introduction.

When jobs become available at your target companies, you’re in a better place than if you were applying cold. You can reach out to the people you’ve connected with to have your résumé  delivered to the proper decision makers (in addition to applying on line).

Ideally you will build strong relationships with the connections at your target companies, so when companies are trying to fill positions internally, your connections will give you a heads-up. You’ll have an inside track, essentially penetrating the Hidden Job Market.

According to a 2017 Jobvite article: “Referred applicants are 5 times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.” We can assume these stats are still true, if not higher.

5. Use the Jobs feature to network

Using LinkedIn’s Jobs feature to apply for jobs exclusively is not your best way to land a job because, after all, it’s a job board. (A very low percentage of job seekers are successful using job boards.) But I wouldn’t discount LinkedIn Jobs. Use it in conjunction with your networking efforts.

In many cases the person who posted the position is revealed, providing you with the option of contacting said person. You can also “meet the team,” whom you might want to reach out to. Perhaps my favorite feature of Jobs is the ability to see which of your alumni work at the companies of interest.

Finally, use Jobs to research other jobs of interest. On the right-hand side of the job description there are similar jobs at various companies. You might want to add some of these companies to your target company list.

6. Alumni feature

Alumni might be the most underutilized feature on LinkedIn. In fact, many of my clients are unaware of this great feature and are amazed when I demonstrate how to use it. To find Alumni, simply type your alma mater in the Search area and select it from the drop-down.

I show my clients how they can find alumni who studied certain majors, where they live, and where they work. I also explain that their alumni are more likely to connect with them than other people they don’t know.

If you see that some of your alumni work at a desired company, take the bold move of connecting with them. Your personal invite will start with , “Hi William, I see we attended Amherst College together….” This alone will give you something in common.

Read more about the Alumni feature.

7. Making the “Ask”

A LinkedIn connection is not bona fide unless you reach out in a personal manner, such as a phone call or, at the moment, having a Zoom session. A phone call should be the very least you do in your effort to make a personal connection.

You’ve spoken with your connections and have gained their trust. Now you’re ready to ask them to go to bat for you. You will message them to ask for an introduction to important people with whom you want to connect. The introduction invite is described in 3 proper ways for job seekers to send invites on LinkedIn.

With an ally on your side, your target connection is more likely to connect with you. But from there you’ll need to initiate a conversation that is not too forward. The process might be slow, but an opportunity can be wasted if you make the ask too soon.

You’ll know when the time is right based on the tone of the conversation. The ask can be an informational meeting where you’ll gather information and advice from your new connection. The ask will never be asking your connection if their company is hiring; it is assumed you’re interested in their company.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, visit this compilation of LinkedIn posts.

Photo: Flickr, JobMax

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