It isn’t what you know; it’s who you know. LinkedIn helps you connect who you know with who they know to make a powerful network of people and information. With more than 135 million members of LinkedIn representing all Fortune 500 companies, you should already be using LinkedIn for networking, but did you know you it could help you find your next job?
Using the search function, recruiters often use LinkedIn to find potential candidates because of the application’s ease of use and low cost. However, they can’t find you if you haven’t updated your profile, connected with others, and participate. Here’s how to do that.
Update Your Profile—All of It
Your LinkedIn profile is probably more important than your resume, so make it a priority to keep it up-to-date and engaging. It should contain these parts:
- Headline. Make sure you include an informative headline that captures who you are in a professional context. For example: Forensic Accountant, Recent honors graduate seeking accounting position. Of course, this matters if you are currently unemployed; if you are already working, see the note at the end of this article.
- Education. Include information about your education, such as the colleges or universities you’ve attended, your major and minor, GPA, honors, and any other related information.
- Keywords. The “specialties” part of your profile allows you to include keywords a recruiter or hiring manager would type into a search engine. Refer to job postings of positions you’re interested in (and qualified for) to find relevant keywords. Or, find someone whose job you’ve always admired and refer to his or her keywords.
- Recommendations. Testimonials are one of the most powerful forms of acknowledgement. Get recommendations for each position or skill listed in your profile. Ask former professors, internship contacts, colleagues, employers, and mentors for recommendations.
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is designed to connect professionals. Don’t question whether to connect with a colleague or someone you’ve networked with on LinkedIn—just do it!
- Use LinkedIn’s automated webmail import to connect with the people already in your address book.
- Upload contacts from Outlook, ACT, or Mac address books.
- Allow LinkedIn to help you connect with former colleagues or classmates. Your updated profile generates a list of colleagues and classmates to view.
- Grow your network consistently. Every time you receive a business card from someone at a networking event, business meeting, conference, or interview, send this person a LinkedIn invitation.
- Use the Company search function. If you’re interested in finding out more about a specific company and/or want to find people in the 1st or 2nd tier of your network, the Company search function is very helpful.
LinkedIn is part of the entire social media mix, and like any social media tool, interaction is the key.
- Update your status frequently. Tell people about events you are attending, projects you are working on, professional books you are reading, or any other news that you might tell someone at a networking event.
- Join groups. Find individuals with similar interests, those who attended your school, or people who have similar career objectives. This allows you to grow your individual connections, learn current issues and trends, and see job listings posted in the group. Do a keyword search in the Groups Directory to find groups related to:
- Industry/Career field
- Professional organizations and alumni groups
- Personal interests
- Showcase your knowledge. Participate in conversations online in the groups and forums. Answer questions using your knowledge and expertise. Ask for advice about a project or information about vendors. Post articles. Use it to establish your personal expertise.
Ask around and you’ll find out that many of your colleagues found their positions, or know of others who secured employment, simply by spending some time on LinkedIn. However, there is one giant elephant in the room. What happens if your current employer sees your LinkedIn profile? Would your present job be in jeopardy?
Probably not. LinkedIn is universally used and accepted within the business marketplace. Unless you are specifically looking for another position and have that kind of focus in your profile, it’s a known fact that everyone uses LinkedIn for networking. Certainly, your employer will want you to network with others to either bring in more business to the firm or expand a customer base for your company.
The amount of time you plan to spend on LinkedIn each day varies; be careful not to overdo it, but also plan to spend at least 10 minutes a day on your page and on the site. Start building your network before you need it.