Okay, so you are in probably in one of these five categories:
- You have no desire to use LinkedIn, you have a job and don’t want to switch jobs or use it solely for networking purposes.
- You are looking for work or wanting to possibly switch jobs: you don’t understand the benefits of how/why LinkedIn trumps other job search engines in its effectiveness in finding work, and you haven’t really given it too much thought or researched the subject.
- You created a LinkedIn profile because your friend told you to, and you have about 5 connections on the site and never use it.
- You see the benefits of LinkedIn and are occasionally looking for work, but are having challenges in understanding certain aspects of the format, how it differs from other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and how to search for jobs.
- You use LinkedIn regularly for networking and job searching, but are the type of person that always feels that they can improve and learn new things to provide optimal results.
Well, for the first class of people, I can likely conjure up some very convincing facts, studies, and applicable examples of why using LinkedIn would benefit you is some area of your work, but that would make for a completely different article.
If you fall somewhere into any of categories #2 through #5, I hope you continue reading. I cannot within accuracy tell you the large number of people I’ve spoken with over the years, often highly educated professionals, that express to me some type of frustration or misunderstanding of how to use LinkedIn, and consequently stop using it as a result. Perhaps some of the content I cover will encourage or motivate you to go out and experiment for yourself.
Here’s the top 10 list (in no particular order of best/worst)
- Building By Reconnecting
- Model Others
- Job Seeker Premium
- Join Career Relevant LinkedIn Groups
- Build Your Own Personal Brand
- Show Off
- Fill In The Blank
- Be Transparent
1) Building by Reconnecting:
For me, one of the simplest and most effective ways to get started using LinkedIn is to add lots of people YOU ALREADY KNOW to your LinkedIn network. The site prompts you upon signing up to show and connect you with contacts from your personal gmail accounts, yahoo, outlook, etc. that are currently on LinkedIn. Think of all the people you’ve emailed with regarding business, employment opportunities, etc. (You have the option to pick and choose which of your contacts you’d like to connect with). It’s a great way to begin ‘transferring’ a network of professionals/friends you already had.
2) Model Others:
Another very simple and effective way to learn how to use the site is to simply observe what other successful people are doing, and follow their lead (looking in your industry is typically best start, but not mandatory.) Of course, as in every other aspect of life, using common sense and discernment is highly suggested. Don’t jump off the “Cyber Brooklyn Bridge” just because your new LinkedIn connection Johnny is doing it and then blame it on this article! View how people you know/respect and major influencers on the site set up their profile, summary, postings, comments, etc… If you feel confused, you could always reach out to one of your contacts and tell them you just joined and are running into challenges about how to use the site.
3) Job Seeker Premium:
Join it, I dare ya. As a person searching for work, I’ve found that LinkedIn’s Job seeker premium group is one of the BEST tools for a job seeker to use, period. First off, there’s close to 250,000 members on the group, with group members giving one another support, tips, advice, encouragement, and very relevant articles to help optimize their chances of finding jobs. Upon joining, the group has a virtual tutorial led by LinkedIn ambassadors that provides you with great information about how to optimize your LinkedIn Professional Profile along with several live webinars a month. Plus, as part of the premium membership, there’s the added benefit of being on the top of Recruiter’s lists of applicants when you apply to a job, having the opportunity to message Recruiters directly with an Inmail feature, and seeing how many people are applying for the same position as you. I’ve also noticed that employers/recruiters get back to you much, MUCH faster and more consistently about the opportunity of working for them than any other job search engine I’ve been on. Currently the monthly membership for the premium group is $30 per month. In my opinion, it’s well worth the investment; especially if you’re looking for and need a job as soon as possible.
4) Join Career Relevant LinkedIn Groups:
Click on the ‘Interests’ tab on the home page, and you will see a ‘Groups’ option. What helped for me was to just start typing in keywords of my industry and see what would come up. They are typically easy to join and get acquainted with. Becoming involved with current group discussions you are a passionate about is a great way to remain active and engaged with those in your desired field. Plus, I’ve found that joining groups is an excellent way to connect with major influencers, employers, recruiters, etc. that you would normally not be able to add on LinkedIn due to privacy features. *When you click on ‘connect’, if you have a group in common with them, it will allow you to have the opportunity to reach out to them. It is usually wise to make sure you provide a reason why you’re reaching out to them and could even help to reference a common interest or connection to build familiarity. Otherwise, there’s a strong chance that person won’t respond or accept your invitation to connect.
5) Build Your Own Personal Brand:
This will be an ongoing journey. Start to brainstorm by yourself, with other job seekers, old co-workers/employers. What are your gifts, strengths, passions, experiences? What are some visions, ideas, dreams, topics you are highly inspired by? Implement these things into your profile summary, work experience, volunteer experience, esp. when it is applicable and relevant to your desired career. Practice the art of articulating your strengths and what specializations may differentiate you from the rest. Continue to envision how you want to present yourself as a professional in your own unique way.
Give them and get them. From attending a Job Seeker Premium webinar, I learned that viewing recommendations was one of the largest influences for Recruiters searching job candidates while considering who to hire. One tip I learned from a valuable source was to copy/paste recommendations I had saved from previous employers/professors that were difficult to get a hold of in the present moment. I’ve also found that giving people genuine and relevant recommendations feels great and inadvertently brings positive things back to you in some form or another. LinkedIn ‘endorsements’ are great as well.
7) Show Off:
Direct quote from a Top Contributor on LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium:
“Create a notebook/portfolio that includes your work projects and accomplishments. I found the process of creating it helped my self-confidence as it reminded me that I had accomplished a lot. And then I was able to tap into that when asked questions about my work accomplishments in interviews.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself : )
8) Fill in the blanks:
Have big gaps in unemployment and feel self-conscious about it……. Guess what?
Lots of people are in the same boat as you, particularly since the economy crises.
The good news is that recruiters and hiring managers are well aware of this and most aren’t going to hold it against you. That being said, most will still ask you about employment gaps, or length of employment. The best thing one can do is to answer this question for them before they ask you first. Example: You didn’t have a job for the whole year of 2010, but during that time you volunteered providing after care for toddlers and served as secretary for a monthly networking group within your industry. Put that in your work experience section as volunteer work. Even better if you can describe specific job duties or skills you used during that time that can apply to a future job you are searching for. The hiring party will likely be both intrigued and impressed you were still active during an unemployment period, took initiative, and were able to articulate key things you had done on your LinkedIn profile.
9) Be Transparent:
A big obstacle myself and many others have had to overcome is the potential feeling of vulnerability while sharing with others you’re unemployed. If you can relate to this feeling, an easy place to start out would be on job seeker groups, because EVERYONE on there is looking for work! Another thing that’s helpful is to add on your headline that you’re currently seeking new opportunities.
Example of headline: ‘Scott Engler: Job Search Strategist/ Lateral Career Consultant/Seeking New Opportunities.’ This is very helpful because your headline is the first thing anyone who would connect with you on LinkedIn will see. In my own experience, I’ve found that if you reach out to other users seeking advice and come with a considerate and humble approach, most people were more than happy to share helpful advice and their experiences with you.
This is a BIG ONE in my opinion. Whenever it’s possible and in your power to do so, find ways to support, encourage, and bring value to others on LinkedIn. Sharing people’s articles, congratulating them on recently being hired, or endorsing them for their skills are some wonderful ways to contribute to the success of others. Sure, maybe at times it won’t feel as authentic to congratulate someone’s success in finding work when you so desperately want and need a job, but this is exactly why I feel the concept is so important. For starters, it aligns with law of the universe on the harmonious exchange of energy. Next, it is easy to become very self-absorbed and filled with fear, anxiety, frustration, etc. while struggling to find work. Being able to take out a step back and contribute to others will not only make you feel better, but can present amazing opportunities for you in proper time.
Well, there you have it. As with all things, take from the article what’s good for you and leave the rest. I suggest coming back to the list of tips frequently as a reference and reminder for you when questions come up.