The following is a guest post by Kathy Taylor, co-author of How to Succeed in Business Using LinkedIn with Eric Butow, on how job-seekers can use LinkedIn to their advantage.
LinkedIn is growing at a rapid pace, with a new member joining LinkedIn approximately every second (and about half of members are outside the U.S.) It has over 39 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world and executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members. So how can you benefit from this massive network, based on one-to-one connections?
Build Your Profile and Your Personal Brand.
In the current job market, creativity is the word of the day. If you are looking now (along with thousands of other people), you must make your LinkedIn profile stand out. Create a meaty profile for recruiters and hiring managers to see details about your professional life: responsibilities, accomplishments, awards, and professional organizations. Keep a great employment history with lots of description and be sure to include a link to your LinkedIn profile page on your resume. If you are in a field that is very cutting edge such as technology, punch up or emphasize key words on your profile on LinkedIn that will attract those companies that are in growth mode, not downsizing mode.
You can also use LinkedIn to build a personal brand. It’s a big world out there so how will you set yourself apart from everyone else? You can use LinkedIn to distinguish yourself building on your genuine skills and experience. Use people’s updates, discussion groups, and the “Answers” section to stay on top of the latest trends. What easier way to know what’s going on in an industry than being connected to the people in it? People are often asking questions about the latest thing (trying to work it out), helping you keep a pulse on what people are interested in. You can also use the “Answers” section to showcase your expertise. Impress your future boss by answering questions, making introductions, and actively working on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on LinkedIn; there are people out there with answers.
Build Your Network and Benefit From It.
Everyone knows that the best way to find jobs is through your “network,” but how can you best take advantage of it? LinkedIn provides a great way for you to connect, re-connect, and stay in touch with all the people in your professional life, from your first internship to managing 50 employees. You may have gotten someone’s business card two months ago but are they still there? LinkedIn allows you to build your network as broadly as you can, with connections to your previous employers and schools, and spread your network to areas that you hadn’t considered before, such as alumni, friends, family and neighbors, so that a new set of people will find you. Start with the immediate connections and keep expanding out.
Take the time right now to get recommendations on your profile—the full 360°. Typically employers check references (usually your old boss) before hiring someone new. With LinkedIn, they can see all the great things people have to say about you beforehand and they can come from all around you – bosses, clients, colleagues, and the people you manage. This is the quickest way for a hiring manager to understand who you are and the reputation you have. She may find that she knows one or two of the references directly or through one other person to check you out thoroughly. Recommendations are also a great way of building up relationships with people for now and for the future. So what is the best way to get recommendations? Start writing them for other people. It’s common courtesy to reciprocate and people are more likely to be effusive about you once you’ve complimented their professional skill. You can also request recommendations from people, but it’s best to write one for them first.
Find and Then Get the Jobs.
First of all, start broadcasting that you are on the job-hunt (assuming you want everyone to know). Use your status update or InMail to send messages to your connections that you are looking for a job (privately if you don’t want your current boss to know). Also start checking your connections’ connections—you never know where a click-through will lead you.
Looking in the “Jobs” section on LinkedIn is a great way to start, but look to see how you are connected to that company or hiring manager and use that avenue to get your resume noticed. Coming across the transom with every other resume is not a way to make your information stand out. Send your information through a connection that knows you well to make sure your message gets passed along to the right person. Also utilize “JobsInsider” to get the latest listings from other job search sites and upload your resume.
Say you get that interview…LinkedIn has done it’s job right? No! You can learn about your hiring manager via their profile. You research a company and a hiring manager before the interview, so LinkedIn can help you with the company and hiring manager profiles. You might find something great to talk about in the interview, such as you both went to cooking school before going into IT.
And finally, looking for a job is a job, make sure you do something every day to move the ball forward.
Kathy Taylor is cofounder of Talent-Planet, an executive talent firm focusing primarily on high tech emerging growth companies the United States. She has more than 10 years of experience in her field and is an expert in recruiting through a variety of social networking sites, including LinkedIn. Together with Eric Butow, they are the authors of How to Succeed in Business Using LinkedIn: Making Connections and Capturing Opportunities on the World’s #1 Business Networking Site (AMACOM 2008), which Library Journal said “this informative text is well written; because of its value to business and human resources professionals and to individuals developing their careers, it is recommended for all academic and public collections.” Eric Butow is the CEO of Butow Communications Group, a technical writing and Web design firm, and is the author of 12 books including User Interface Design for Mere Mortals and Amp Your MySpace Page. He lives in Roseville, California.
Our final post for “Job Hunting in a Recession Week” coming tomorrow: Tony Beshara will be sharing the top ten interview mistakes job candidates make on an initial interview.n