If you are an older skilled worker who is in the market for a job you should be taking advantage of the significant benefits LinkedIn can bring to your job search: including warm leads into companies or to people you are targeting, the possibility of creating new job leads through recruiters who frequently use the site or people who are impressed with comments you post on the site, and access to posted and unposted job openings. So how do you take advantage of LinkedIn if you’re a job seeker?
1. Create a Thoughtful Profile.
According to LinkedIn, you are 40X more likely to receive opportunities if your profile is complete. A complete profile includes your current job and 2 previous jobs, your educational background, a profile summary, profile picture, your specialties and at least 3 recommendations. Your profile summary should highlight your passions, interests AND your personality. Your work experience should highlight the specific actions taken and the impact achieved. Many people make the mistake of writing their experience as a recitation of tasks; e.g. built models, created presentations. If you’ve created presentations, projects or have other work that showcases your talents, use an app like Slideshare or Box.net to include your work in your profile. Thoughtful (vs boilerplate) recommendations from colleagues who can speak to specific skills or your impact can help. LinkedIn has a simple tool that lets you solicit them for people you know. Once and only when your profile is complete, include a link to it in your email signature, on your resume, and even on your business card.
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2. Build your network.
Focus on friends and colleagues who know you well. There’s no prize for accumulating the most connections. Your connections should be people who’d be willing to credibly and enthusiastically introduce you to people in their network. To do that, they must know you well enough. Here’s another reason to be careful about who you invite into your network. Your connections may also ask you for introductions to other people in your network. Do you want to jeopardize your reputation with your friends or former boss by encouraging them to talk to some random person in your network that you don’t know? If you’re a college student, consider adding some older people such as professors, close family friends, and supervisors and colleagues from summer internships. Continue to work on strengthening your ties -- thought you might find this article interesting, ran into someone who knows you, etc. The optimal time to build your network is when you don`t desperately need help.
3. Join Targeted Industry & Professional Groups.
Why? There will be people there who are doing what you want to do. Join in on discussions. Create discussions on topics you’re interested in. Ask interesting questions. Doing these things will enable you to meet people who can increase your job or industry understanding, give you feedback on your job search, or even approach you about potential jobs. The key to GETTING a lot from these groups is GIVING to them. For someone to want to help you, they need to feel that it’s worth their while, either because they genuinely like you, and/or they believe that helping you benefits them in some way. If you are only there to take from the group, you won’t find many willing to help you.
4. Join Your School Group on LinkedIn.
The content in these groups is fairly limited now, but being a member is valuable because you can send connection invitations or messages to other members of the group that you otherwise couldn’t engage. I can search my Stanford group for my hypothetical target company, Google for example, and find 81 group members, only 2 of whom I’m directly connected to, with current or past work experience at Google.
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