The job and internship search can be tough and discouraging, especially in a down economy. The search itself can appear to be a full-time job in itself with so many different areas of focus, including resumes, cover letters, emails, networking, applications, interviews and more, and with so many different tools and resources available to help you with them. One of the most powerful weapons of the career search in todayâ€™s job market is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the leading â€œsocial networkingâ€ site for professionals. Itâ€™s not social networking like on Facebook or MySpace, but more business and career networking. There is so much you can do on LinkedIn, and while it is not the only effective tool available to you in your career search, it really deserv es some of your time, attention and investment as it integrates all of your career search efforts and can really help you be more effective and productive in the other important areas.
Here are 6 ways to use LinkedIn to optimize your career search and find your dream job. If you k now someone who is seeking a job or internship, please forward them these tips along with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.
- Use the Profile link on the left and whether youâ€™ve just created your profile or already have one, make sure to follow the suggested steps to complete your profile up to the 100% level. A complete profile lifts you up in LinkedIn’s search engine results.
- Go beyond the bare minimum when following those steps and make sure to fill in as much professional, academic and skill-based information from your resume as you feel comfortable providing. The more information you have provided, the more potentially-matching names and keywords you will have provided, in turn also optimizing your profile in LinkedInâ€™s search engine results.
- Completing your profile 100% will require getting 3 recommendations, but try to go beyond that. Ask for brief recommendations from as many past supervisors, co-workers, subordinates, key classmates, professors etc as possible. Tha tâ€™s the beauty of LinkedIn, you can request brief recommendations from people from whom you might not request longer, more comprehensive hard-copy recommendations. Many brief high-quality recommendations are often just as valuable as a few long high-quality recommendations. If you feel comfortable doing so, offer to write one for them in return.
- Create an interesting, intriguing and memorable subtitle to be included with your name, something more than simply â€œMBA Studentâ€ and/or â€œFinancial Analyst.â€
- Update your status often to post your availability and career goals like â€œJohn is seeking full-ti me opportunities in brand management with food and beverage CPG firms.â€
- Use the Groups link on the left and search for LinkedIn groups related to your company, industry, school and/or career-related interests and request to join (maximum limit is 50 groups). While quantity is not as important as quality, join as many as possible and remember that groups with more members allow for more potential contacts. Group membership also allows you to contact fellow group members (depending on their privacy settings) even if they are not your direct connections which can be very valuable in your job search.
- Once joined or confirmed by the group owner as a member, check to see what the groupâ€™s discussion board guidelines are (if any), and if permitted, post a personal sales pitch for your job candidacy on each groupâ€™s discussion board and include your email address, Twitter username etc.
- Network with group members by offering insights and answers to questions on the discussion board and/or posting questions or discussion topics yourself. This helps you make valuable connections while starting to establish your personal brand.
- Check out the groupsâ€™ external websites/communities for more networking opportunities.
- Consider joining open networking groups, such as TopLinked, Invites Welcome and many more. This will increase your number of personal connections, but the true value is that it puts you in second-degree contact with more professionals and depending on their privacy settings, allows you contact them.
- With an increasing network of connections and fellow group members, under the People tab at the top, search for contacts of intere st, industry leaders and/or current employees of your top-choice companies and if possible, message them requesting brief informational interviews.
- When successful, read their profiles to learn a little more about them prior to your conversation. If appropriate, use this information to help you come across well-researched and find common ground with your interviewer.
- Under the Jobs tab at the top, you will find LinkedIn’s own job board, a great place to search for jobs on a daily basis. Its job board is similar to others, like Monster and CareerBuilder; however, many of the opportunities are exclusively available on LinkedIn, and many of the opportunities list the recruiters or employers who posted them, offering another level of personal connection for the cover letter and future networking.
- In addition, this job board is where the profile recommendations really can make a difference, for after you apply, employers and recruiters can instantly refer to your recommendations as complimentary s upport to your resume, cover letter and profile.
- Using the Answers tab at the top, you can search relevant questions of interest or of relevance to your expertise by category or by keywords and you can offer your own answers and insights. The person who asked the question may rate the best answers, which if yours, can help identify you on LinkedIn as an official expert in a given subject area. However, regardless of your answer ratings, offering your insights and answers will begin to establish your personal brand and expertise and will initiate some potential networking and job opportunities.
- You can also post your own questions. If you are writing a book, articles for a blog etc., this can be a great way to get some ideas and answers to your own questions which can enhance the value of the content you offer to others through your writing and reinforces your own brand and expertise.
- Under the Companies tab at the top, you can search companies by industry category and geographic location and identify companies that you may not have previously considered, especially smaller companies and start-ups. LinkedIn also shows whether the companies in your search results have posted job opportunities on its job board, a feature which is very helpful.
- If the companies don’t have jobs posted on LinkedIn, visit the companiesâ€™ corporate websites and check for their job opportunities or application processes.
- Use their company profiles to identify new people, especially the hiring managers or HR decision makers, to contact for information, information interviews etc.