LinkedIn is the world’s most used online networking tool. While Facebook and Twitter have substantially more monthly active users, and users overall, LinkedIn is the choice of business professionals as it maintains professional development as its primary offering. If you’re unfamiliar with LinkedIn, this article is a must-read for you. If you’ve used LinkedIn but aren’t sure how to really leverage it to better yourself, read on. I’ll be reviewing how to best use LinkedIn to network, and how to use LinkedIn for your job search.
In early 2013, LinkedIn reported an approximate 225 million acquired users – meaning they’ve had at least 225 million people sign up to use LinkedIn since its creation. To give you an idea of how many people log on and actively use LinkedIn each month, the stat for American users is a whopping 21.4 million. With all of those people logging on with the intention to post a job, apply to a job, connect, and share information – the possibilities are endless and the odds are pretty good that something will come up that fits what you’re looking for.
When it comes to using LinkedIn for your job search, there a few steps you should take before you apply to any jobs. These steps can be done all in one sitting, or you can set aside time each day for a little while to accomplish them. Either way, they’re important to do before you start scrolling through the job postings or asking people to connect with you. They are as follows:
Before You Apply
1. Build Your Profile
Building your profile means much more than typing in your name, mentioning where you currently work or last worked, and uploading any photograph. You’ll need to upload a high resolution photo that is at least 200px X 200px, clearly shows your face, and isn’t cropped from a party picture. Basically, you should look professional. If you don’t have a professional photograph, head to the local Wal Mart or photo studio and ask for a head shot. Typically, you can get one taken for under $10 – especially when you only need the digital copy.
You’ll also want to type in a “title” or “tagline” that demonstrates your job and what you do. This may look something like “Bert Reynolds – Public Relations Manager, Koala PR Inc.” or “Sophie Samson – Event Coordinator, Self-Employed”. Whatever you choose to write will show up next to your name in searches, job applications, and will display publicly on your LinkedIn profile. Avoid using trending phrases like “Wedding Planning Ninja” or “Planning Guru”. These words can make you seem overly confident or like you don’t take your job seriously.
Lastly, you’ll want to work your way through the LinkedIn profile building wizard and fill in as much information as you can, while keeping your profile relevant and attractive. If you worked a summer at an ice cream store but are now looking to plan upscale corporate events, there’s no need to list that you worked at the ice cream store. If you worked as an assistant to a florist, however, that would be something relevant that you may wish to include to demonstrate your knowledge on floral arrangements. Remember to list any related education or vocational training, any volunteer work that may prove helpful in making you stand apart from your competitors, and any awards or recognitions you’ve achieved.
2. View Your Profile
This one might sound all too simple, but you’d be surprised how many people have spelling or grammatical errors in their LinkedIn profiles. When your profile may be the first thing prospective employers see, it’s your first impression. You want it to look good! Click “View Public Profile” and take a few minutes to read through your entire profile and really see what it looks like from the other side – the side of an employer or someone looking to connect with you. When someone tries to connect with me, I always check out their profile before hitting “Accept”. If it looks suspicious or is filled with bad grammar, spelling errors, or doesn’t have an actual profile or picture – I quickly hit “Deny”. In business, you are who you surround yourself with and your connections can say a lot about who you are!
3. Have an Electronic Resume Ready
While many job listings allow you to apply right there on LinkedIn, using your profile, there’s always the option to attach your resume in an electronic format. Employers want to see that you didn’t just scroll through a list of jobs and click on anything you could. They want to see that you’ve spent some time formatting your full resume and that you’ve taken the extra 20 seconds to attach it to your application. So, make sure you have an electronic resume ready – preferably in PDF. Keep it to one page if you’re able, and two pages being the absolute maximum.
While it may be enticing to include everything you’ve ever done, keep in mind the hiring manager will be pouring over hundreds if not thousands of possible candidates’ applications and you want yours to stand out as quickly and as early on as possible. If she or he can’t skim your application and see the information they’re looking for jump out at them, you probably won’t get an interview. On that note, it’s a good idea to have a cover letter in PDF ready as well.
Now that you’re ready to start the application process, it’s time to make sure you understand how to conduct a job search on LinkedIn. If you think you’re limited to the job search tool, you’re wrong. LinkedIn is all about connecting, leveraging connections, and helping out one another. Connecting with someone at a company or in an industry you’re interested in can be just as powerful as applying to a posted job – sometimes even more powerful. Read my tips below for using LinkedIn to help you find a job:
When You Apply
1. Use Keywords Well
When you’re job hunting on LinkedIn, you need to type in a keyword to sort through the endless listings and find the ones that are relevant to you. To do this, you’ll need to understand the keywords that will get you there. If you’re an administrative assistant, start with “administrative assistant”. But, don’t stop there. Others to try would be “administrator”, “office assistant”, “office manager”, “administrative support”, “receptionist”, “secretary”, or “clerk”. Different companies use different language to title job positions, and many HR representatives will use different language in their job postings to attract a wider group of applicants. Just because your job is called one thing at your current company doesn’t mean it has the same name everywhere else. Rather, you should look closely at the job description and associated duties to find a good match.
2. Know Your Experience
If you see a job posting for a senior position requiring 7-10 years of experience but you only have 3, keep scrolling for something more suited to your experience level. It can cause hiring managers annoyance to receive an application from someone not suited for the position. It can even make it look like you didn’t read the job description, and could hurt your future chances of being considered at that company. If you have 3 years experience, it’s not a bad idea to apply to something asking for 4 – but be cautious about going any higher than that. Job hunting is a competitive process as it is, let alone when you’re trying to compete with someone with double the experience for a position that requires more than you have to offer at this point. Being realistic will help you be the most prepared, and will help keep you on track with finding the right job for where you are now.
3. Browse the Employees
Whenever you have a job listing open on your computer, it will show a link to the company’s page (if they have one, and most do) and will then allow you to scroll through employees who have that company listed in their LinkedIn profiles. Feel free to have a look! Better yet, be sure your profile settings allow for people to see that you’ve looked at them. While you may think this sounds “creepy”, it can be really helpful to demonstrate your interest and land some new connections. When someone sees you’ve looked at their profile, they almost always return the favor and have a look at yours. It also shows you’ve dug deeper than simply reading the job description and are actually showing some interest in who already works there, for how long, what they do, and what your life might be like working alongside them.
Now that you have three tips for getting ready to apply to jobs, and three tips for applying, you’re ready to get started. I wish you the absolute best in your LinkedIn job search, and invite you to post any questions you might have about the process in the comments below. For more information on starting a career or to learn about our business training, please visit QC Career School.