If you’re on the job hunt (or just thinking about making a move), there’s no better place to start than LinkedIn. LinkedIn makes you visible to a world of recruiters, employers, and former colleagues who may just have an opening for you.
Unfortunately, many professionals don’t utilize the full potential of this channel. When things are good, they forget to stay active and continue to develop their networks. When things go south, however, they find themselves scrambling to reconnect.
So, how exactly do you leverage LinkedIn to your advantage?
- Optimize your headline. One of the most underutilized sections in LinkedIn is the headline. Many professionals keep it straightforward, using it to highlight their current position. This is a missed opportunity, as the headline is indexed and has a direct impact on search rank. If you defaulted to a current position, rewrite this field with keyword-rich text that describes what you do, such as “VP Sales | Cloud-Based Technology | Business Development Leadership” or “Experienced Marketing Strategist in Brand Management, Product Launch & Pricing Strategies.”
- Review your summary. Being your “elevator pitch,” your summary shouldn’t just be compelling, but contain a high percentage of keywords relevant to your industry and your goals. If you copied and pasted your summary directly from your resume, now’s the time to change it. Using industry-specific keywords (and a conversational, yet professional tone), tell a story detailing exactly what you’ve done and accomplished in your professional life.Support your experience by including samples of your work. This can include anything from a presentation to a video of a speech you gave. You can even create an infographic detailing your experience and include it here. Samples add variety and help to further optimize your profile.
- Strengthen past job titles. Like the headline, job titles are highly indexed. Not that altering past titles is recommended, but you can add keywords to better explain the roles, especially when a title is a bit vague. For instance, Vice President of Sales doesn’t say a lot, nor does it do much for rank. Add descriptors after the job title, similar to the “VP Sales” example in the first point. It’ll help improve your search results.
- Target professional recommendations. As you already know, what others say about you is often more influential than what you say about yourself. While you’ve probably collected a number of recommendations already, these endorsements may not speak to all your strengths. Be specific with your requests and encourage contacts to recount certain successes not already discussed in existing recommendations. If you feel comfortable, you can also offer to provide contacts with prewritten recommendations.
- Leverage professional groups. LinkedIn has a group for every industry — not to mention, every specialty within every industry. Obviously, you’ll want to join at least one group related to your industry and specialty. But it isn’t enough to just be a member. You need to engage. Observe conversations already taking place, and when you feel you can add something of value, start to participate. Your participation can lead to new professional connections – and possibly even a new job.Group membership also comes with another advantage. Members of that group can message one another without being a first-degree connection. If you use the Advanced Search function, which allows you to filter users by keyword, company, title, and other specifications, you can then identify people in your LinkedIn group who work for a company you’re targeting for employment. If one of these people makes hiring decisions, you can always contact him or her directly with an inquiry.
- Check in with your current connections. Sometimes, professionals are at a loss on how exactly to participate on LinkedIn beyond engaging in groups. Go through your LinkedIn connections to see if anyone has changed jobs, changed companies, secured new clients, published new posts, or updated his or her profile. New developments in your network provide you an opportunity to reconnect and congratulate your colleagues. It may be just a little thing but the goodwill can do wonders for your reputation and to bring your name to the top of mind.
- Post updates. It should go without saying that you want to keep your LinkedIn profile current. If you get a new job title, switch departments, attend a useful seminar, or change sales regions, let your network know by clicking on the “notify” box to the right of the screen. You now give your colleagues a chance to reconnect with you. You’re also pushing these posts onto the newsfeed, improving your visibility.Besides updates to your profile, you should be sharing useful information with your network on a relatively consistent basis. Post links to interesting articles. Recommend books, blogs, or podcasts. Share a webinar or two. Your participation further improves your visibility. When an opportunity arises, your name will already be on your connections’ minds.
- Capitalize on invitations from people you don’t know. When getting an invitation from a perfect stranger, don’t ignore it — and don’t accept it outright either. Instead, hit reply to send a personal note. Tell the person you appreciate the invitation, but you’re curious about how exactly he/she ran across your profile. Then, ask if there’s a specific reason for the request. It could be someone just looking to expand his/her network. Or, it could be someone seeking advice, looking for additional information about your experience, or with a line on a potential job opportunity.
- Publish articles on LinkedIn. Not everyone is a writer, but you probably have insights and opinions on your chosen industry. Work up an article or two on a topic that interests you and publish your thoughts on LinkedIn. The post could prompt an employer to reach out to you for an interview.
Visiting LinkedIn for 20 to 30 minutes every other day is usually time well spent, especially when you engage on this channel. It can provide great insights into the people who work where you hope to work one day, and it can lead to new connections, face-to-face meetings, and job opportunities otherwise unavailable to you.
Though LinkedIn is fairly easy to use, feel free to contact us for guidance.