If you’re looking for a job, LinkedIn might just be your best friend. That is, if you use its features to their full potential. Just creating a profile is not going to do the job - or get you a job.
So here’s a list of ways to help LinkedIn help you.
Box yourself up
You might have a list of skills that run off the page, but if an employer reads your profile and can’t tell what you actually want to do, they’re not going to get in touch.
So hit them up front. Leave no doubt as to what kind of job you’re looking for.
We’ve all read the buzzwords. ‘Multi-skilled problem solver.’ ‘Good leadership qualities; excellent time management.’ ‘Works well alone, or as part of a team.’
These generic terms say nothing about what you want, or what you’re actually qualified for. Be specific. Put yourself in a box for a while - you can always break out of it later.
Be on the market
Add words to your LinkedIn headline to let recruiters know you’re available right now. ‘Seeking new challenge’, or the acronym ISO (In Search Of) are indicators that either you’re currently not working, or you’re actively looking to change your current situation.
Do not be camera shy
LinkedIn provides space for a profile photo. Use it! It gives you the chance to show yourself as you want to be seen - and showing potential employers your face forms a connection in the way a blank space does not. It doesn’t have to be a professional picture, but it should show you in a good light.
Leaving the space blank is the worst decision. It implies a lack of care, laziness, or a person too timid to present themselves to the world. None of these create a good impression.
Don’t be shy about this either. Everyone is on LinkedIn to connect, so don’t worry if it feels weird to reach out to someone you worked with ten years ago. Invite former colleagues, invite friends, invite people you only vaguely know on Facebook. You never know what connections might be forged, and what opportunities might come your way. Plus, the more connections you have, the easier your profile will be to find for anyone searching the database.
Recommendations (Give and Take)
A well-written, complimentary reference from a former boss, or customer, or recruiter, or colleague, can be worth everything to someone looking for a new position. Not only does it let others see what you’re like to work with, it shows that former colleagues value you enough to take time to write at all.
Of course, reciprocation is only fair. And if you’re new to LinkedIn, leaving recommendations first is the best way encourage others to write them for you.
This is not a time to hide your light under a bushel. If you’ve got the skills, flaunt them. Make sure they’re listed clearly in your profile, because recruiters need to know what you’re good at and what you enjoy. (And remember: be specific.)
Remember what we said at the start - and just now - about labelling yourself? Don’t use those generic terms (‘good man-manager’ - YAWN) on any part of your profile. The entirety of your LinkedIn page is a showcase for how you think, and how you communicate. No matter how you actually see yourself, for the purposes of using this site you’re a unique, creative, talented person. You vibrate with energy. You are the best person in the world.
There’s a ‘summary’ section in which you can showcase this - use it to bring a bit of personality to the fore. Even better, make use of the blog platform. It’s the ideal way to show yourself off, attract followers, and let people see what you’re about - including recruiters and hiring managers.
Get your group on
If you’re a member of the same group as another user, you can get past the need to be a first-degree connection in order to message them directly. As long as you’ve been on LinkedIn for 30 days, and a member of the group for 4, you’ll be able to send up to 15 free messages to fellow group members per month.
Group members are also able to view the profiles of other members without being connected to them, so the more groups you join, the more potential connections you’ll come into contact with.
Okay, it’s not spying. But LinkedIn does provide excellent opportunities for researching potential employers. You can start by searching the user database through the Advanced Search page. Use keywords relating to your function or industry, and add your post/zip code.
You’ll be presented with other LinkedIn users who have the same keywords as you in their profiles; people who are within commuting distance of your area. The companies they work for can then be added to your Target Employer list.
You don’t have to apply for jobs directly through LinkedIn - it could, in fact, be an actively bad idea. Your application might get sucked into a black hole, never to be seen again.
If you see a job you want, try searching the database using the company name and the most likely job title of the hiring manager/recruiter/HR department. Et voila, you might just turn up the name and job title of a real person…a real person you can send a personalised cover letter and C.V. to. Nothing beats the personal touch.
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to enhance your image by letting you upload videos, images and podcasts to your profile. Make use of these features! Not only will they show you in a human, connectable light, it will also look bad if everyone else has full profiles and you do not. If a prospective boss is faced with two similar skill sets, but one comes with a bare profile and the other presents a complete human being - guess which one they’re going to choose?
Did we miss any tips? Let us know in the comments below!