LinkedIn has positioned itself as end end-all social media portal for your career. It has professional development resources, helpful articles, and—most importantly—the connections and job postings to put you in your next job. But if you’re looking to use it for a very specific purpose, finding your next job, then it can be a little overwhelming.
Let’s walk through some of the strategies you need to cut through the noise and use LinkedIn to score your next gig.
Understand what LinkedIn does (and doesn’t do)
Not all social media is the same, which means it shouldn’t occupy the same space in your job search. Twitter and Facebook are great for content sharing (also funny pet videos), but not necessarily great for the level of nitty-gritty info you want and need to bump up your job hunt. Studies have found that about 75% of LinkedIn users are there primarily for research—about companies, about people, about job openings. If you want to know what a company’s overall brand looks like, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook is fine. If you want to get real information about the company that you can use to find your next job, think of LinkedIn as your research assistant. You can use it to get targeted information to take with you into informational meetings you set up with new (or existing) connections, or come up with detailed, insightful questions to ask in an interview.
Keep your content current
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many people update their LinkedIn profiles once in a while and let them just languish. It happens to all of us. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is completely up-to-date, and that you’re refining it often. Think of this as your living resume.
Check your settings
LinkedIn’s “Open Candidate” settings (found in our account preferences) let you signal to recruiters and companies that you’re open to new opportunities—even if you’re looking on the DL. If you have this setting enabled, you can specify what types of recruitment you’re open to receiving without having to put “hey, I’m looking for a new job!” on your public profile.
Make your profile stand out
Your headline is going to be the first thing people see when they click through to your profile. Make sure it’s a strong one that simply, concisely explains your brand: “Customer support specialist, fixing the world one solved problem at a time” is a good example. It shows off your job title, some key words, and a bit of flair to grab the reader’s interest. Having a flattering, clear profile picture is helpful as well. But remember—always use a work-appropriate headshot.
Avoid looking like a seeker
Sounds counterintuitive, right? You are using the site to seek a new job. But if you use words like “job seeker” or “looking for” in your profile, it can come off as a little needy or desperate. Instead of broadcasting what you want, broadcast who you are and your professional brand.
Target specific companies
Just about every company these days has a presence on LinkedIn. Start following the company—its content, news about them, any information you can find on the site. That way, when opportunities do open up you’ll likely already be in the loop, and able to jump on it right away.
Leverage your connections
One of LinkedIn’s strongest points is how it brings the word-of-mouth network into the digital realm. It also lets you see who your connections are connected to, several degrees down the line. Use this data to help visualize how your network connects to someone at the company where you want to work, or someone who can get you an introduction.
Don’t be afraid to reach out
Your LinkedIn experience can be very passive (people come to me) or very active (I reach out to people who can help me achieve my next career goal). Take advantage of the best thing about LinkedIn—the real-time connections to people all over the world. You have nothing to lose by dropping a note in the inbox of someone you’d like to “meet” to discuss your industry, their company, etc.
LinkedIn can be a great asset to your job hunt when you give it your care and attention. When you put the time in to refine your profile and start engaging with others on the site, it can yield career-changing results.