Using LinkedIn for Career Planning and Job Search
Once upon a time, the most reliable way to send a message to a person in a different part of the world other than your own locale was by writing a letter and delivering it to them via a mail company. To buy an item, your only bet was to physically walk to a store and purchase it. Physical cash and coins were the only means of exchanging currency for goods and services. Wanted the weather forecast? The weatherman on TV was your only informant. Needed to hail a taxi? You’d have had to stand outside gesticulating and whistling till a cabbie takes notice of you. What has made the difference? The ubiquitous constantly connected communications of computers we know as the internet. In the few short decades of its existence, the internet has revolutionized nearly every industry in the world, and every aspect of our daily lives, including the job search industry/process. Not too long ago, it was sufficient to have a resume on paper, and simply apply with the relevant cover letter to a position at a company. But now, most organizations not only require resumes, but peruse LinkedIn for suitable candidates. But what is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is an online portal which allows users to build a professional identity online; discover professional opportunities and career connections; stay in touch with colleagues and classmates and be updated with the latest news, inspiration, and insights relevant to your personal career success.
According to LinkedIn’s first quarterly report for 2014, the portal services 300 million users worldwide surpassing Twitter and Tumblr as seen in the graph below, and powers a whopping 50% of all the hires in the world!
Eighty-nine of the Fortune 100 companies currently use LinkedIn. Forbes Magazine reports LinkedIn usage is especially high among the educated (Bachelor and Master degree holders), and high earners (those making $75,000 a year or more) — exactly the types of people with whom you’d want to connect professionally. Research by the Pew Research Center also indicates LinkedIn is the only social media networking site where 50-64 year olds are more active than people ages 18-29, which means that those with more professional experience (and who are more likely to be in a position to hire) are on the site. Additionally, 98% of recruiters and 85% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to find candidates, says Viveka von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and founder of LinkedIntoBusiness.com. “So even though there’s Glassdoor and various business tools out there that millennials are using, if they are looking for a job, certainly in traditional areas, they have to be on LinkedIn,” she says.
What does all this mean for you? This means your resume is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s a whole world of opportunity made possible by LinkedIn far beyond the reach or scope of your resume. By creating a LinkedIn profile, you are putting yourself into a global resume database and there is a chance you could be tapped for job opportunities.
Below are five ways you can utilize LinkedIn for job search and career advancement:
Create an easily-findable and eye-catching profile
Like most services online, creating the basic LinkedIn profile is free, requiring basic information about yourself and a valid email address; preferably a professional email address. For professional networking, it’s better to present firstname.lastname@example.org than email@example.com. Next, the objective of LinkedIn is to present yourself as professionally as you can to potential employers and co-workers, hence a clear, professional headshot of yourself and a succinct and compelling headline, which runs right under your name, is a necessity. Think of a headline like a tweet-long (140 characters) pitch to sell yourself. Most people just state their current job, but if you have multiple careers or positions, focus your headline on your skill sets.
Create a customized LinkedIn URL like http://www.linkedin.com/in/john-smith, this increases the chances of the URL showing up when you name is googled. You can include this link in your regular resume, email signature, business cards, etc. The more interest you draw to your LinkedIn profile, the better.
Disclose information that doesn’t fit in your resume
LinkedIn provides 1,000-character description areas under each job title. Use this space to describe work details that may not fit in to your resume such as contract work you may have done and the results you got (state the duration of the contract); upload or link to examples of your work, such as YouTube videos, images, presentations, PDFs, Microsoft Word documents; fill out the Projects and Publications sections of your profile (on the upper right in Edit Profile mode), or any other additional sections, such as Courses, Certifications, Patents or Volunteering, that allow you to feature other relevant skills. Got a Wikipedia page? Include the link. Are you a social media guru? Include all relevant social media links; whatever it takes to prove your competence, provide it upfront so people visiting your profile don’t have to rummage the web for more information on you. Get LinkedIn recommendations. Ask people you’ve had good working relationships with to write recommendations on your profile; having strong references can help you when it comes to getting selected for an interview or for a job. A good way to get recommendations is to give them, so take some time to write recommendations for your contacts and they will most likely reciprocate. Spare no expense to make yourself, and others, look great!
Strategically connect with others
This is where the real fun begins; playing the actual online networking game. Whereas your resume may get you attention in your immediate vicinity, LinkedIn provides the potential to connect you with people and organizations from all around the world!
Whenever you have a positive interaction in real life with someone with whom you think it would be good to stay in touch, send him or her a LinkedIn request. If you receive an invitation from someone you don’t know, take a look at his or her profile. Even if they’re not a potential employer or client, maybe they work in your area or have connections that could be potential employers or clients. Keep in mind that everyone has a different way of using the site. If you’re new to an industry or could benefit from this potential contact more than he or she could benefit from you, use the Get Introduced tool, in which you ask a current connection to introduce you to one of theirs. (Try to ask those who you are confident would do you the favor.) If you think the potential contact will perceive that he or she could benefit from knowing you as well, then you could probably just message the person directly. However, you’ll be limited to 300 characters whereas introductions have no character limit. Still, if you go this route, personalize your message, rather than send the preset LinkedIn intro. Be creatively confident; don’t just make it about what they can do for you, but what you can do for them.
Search for Jobs
You can search for jobs on LinkedIn by keyword, country, and postal code. Use the Advanced Search Option to refine your search and to search by location, miles from a location, experience level, company, job title, job function, salary, industry, and date posted. Some employers prefer that candidates have LinkedIn recommendations. Employers may also prefer referrals through the LinkedIn network. Follow the instructions in the job posting to optimize your chances of securing an interview. LinkedIn company profiles are a good way to find, at a glance, more information on a company you’re interested in. You’ll be able see your connections at the company, new hires, promotions, jobs posted, related companies, and company statistics.
Even if you’re not looking for a specific job, you can explore specific industries or companies. Say you want to find venture capital funding or that you want to work at a certain company. Do a search for the industry or company and then see which of your colleagues could introduce you to someone who works there via LinkedIn or in real life.
Stay active on the site
LinkedIn may not be Facebook, Twitter, or any other preferred social network of your choice, but if you want to get the best out of the site, you will have to frequently visit and interact with your connections and groups.
Consider relegating all of your social media, including LinkedIn, to one two-hour window a day. This way you can stay up to date with information that’s relevant to you as well as keep in touch with your career objectives online. You don’t have to wait until you achieve some significant milestone in your career before you update your LinkedIn status. Like Twitter or Facebook, you can share the little status updates of steps you’ve taken in school or work. This lets those interested in your profile observe a more organic growth in your school and work life. Finally, as with anything on the internet, the website will continue to evolve features and functionalities, so be sure to stay current with Blog.linkedin.com.
LinkedIn has truly revolutionized the way we connect professionally online – especially job searching and performing job related research. Networking is no longer limited to face to face meetings, telephone calls and business events – it’s right at your fingertips – on desktop and mobile. So take advantage of it today.