LinkedIn has come a long way from its humble 2003 origins. What began as a struggling startup averaging 20 sign-ups a day has grown into the premier digital platform for professionals to network online, a title it won through optimizing its platform with personalization features, recommendations, and company advertisements, all to create the most conducive method for linking employees to employers. Now, with LinkedIn connecting over 600 million users between roughly 200 different countries, how can you tap into that network for your next job?
15 Ways to Use Linkedin to Find a Job
1. Tap Into Real-Life Connections
Few of LinkedIn's innovations have been more impactful than the way it has allowed people to capitalize through the digital world the connections they've made in the real world. According to the site's blog, over 70% of professionals are hired by companies where they have personal connections.
So if you're sifting through companies looking for your next job, take a thorough look at everyone connected with a company. If there's anyone you recognize, whether it's a second-aunt twice-removed or a passing conversation from last year's party, don't be afraid to reach out. Finding the connections you've made in the real world on Linkedin to get a foot in the door is what the platform's all about. Go about asking respectfully, but don't let shyness push your next job out of reach.
2. Figure Out What People Are Looking For
If you're having trouble figuring out what your next job should be, consider letting the market decide. By figuring out what jobs employers are looking for right now, you can cater your info toward what in-demand positions fit your experience and focus on the companies looking to get them filled. Sure, the two years you spent completing your MFA may mean you're best suited as a poet laureate, but for the time being, most companies have more need for copywriters than starving poets.
3. Beef Up Your Soft Skills
Acquiring and listing soft skills is an easy way to stand out from the crowd. Know what's in vogue, though. Knowing how to play the didgeridoo may make for a distinctive profile, but not necessarily an attractive one. And remember, while it's easy to list commonly-searched soft skills like "creativity" and "time management," if an employer finds you because of that, they're likely going to ask you to back it up. Make sure you've got evidence of these skills other than reading this article (though you could use that for "desire to learn").
And of course, hard skills can also be very attractive to employees as well. Just remember, you really have to mean it when you list those. "Artificial Intelligence" isn't exactly a fake-it-till-you-make-it sort of ability.
4. Know Your Buzzwords
Beyond finding the right skills to market yourself with, you should also find the right words to do the describing. As in skills, you've got to find what companies are searching for. Try incorporating them into descriptions of your past jobs to get a better chance of coming up in potential employers' searches.
5. Get Personal
If you go forward with reaching out to someone on LinkedIn, you'll find a couple of options at your disposal, not all of them helpful. Namely, you'll want to avoid anything impersonal. LinkedIn offers a few template messages to use when reaching out. DO NOT use these. Experienced employers can tell and you'll come off as not particularly invested in getting the job.
What you'll want to do is send a succinct, personal message explaining what job you want and why. Save the cover letter for later. Sending a full document right away will come off as excessive for the first contact unless they've reached out to you first.
If you know the person you're reaching out to in any capacity outside of LinkedIn, try including some detail to jog the person's memory, like how or where you met and what you talked about.
6. Use Job Alerts
This addition to LinkedIn's job search feature can be helpful for anyone in a long-term employment endeavor. Simply search for a job using the website's job search function. Once you've done this you'll notice a button with the text "Job Alert" above your results. Clicking on the button will get LinkedIn to send you notifications to your account, email, or both whenever a job matching your search criteria comes up. And remember, you can make this as specific or vague as you want, with details like location, time, experience, industry, and whatever else you can fit into the search bar all being fair game.
If you want anyone to care about your profile, you're going to need to give them something to care about. Accounts with profile pictures are 14 times more likely to be viewed, and accounts with skills listed are 13 times more likely to be viewed. All this is to say, the more fleshed-out your profile is with details illustrating who you are, where you've worked, what you do, your personality, etc.--the more likely it is that people will look over or, better yet, remember your profile.
8. Remember Your Other Social Media
While you want employers to remember you, you'll want them to remember for the right reasons. LinkedIn is just one way employers find potential hires. Facebook (FB) remains the second most-used website by employers to evaluate potential hires. You can be the model citizen on your LinkedIn page, but if your Facebook feed is teeming with photos from less-than-refined college nights or impulsive social media confessionals, you could see employers inch away.
Political views can be another testy area on social media accounts. While certain places may decide against hires based on what they discover about their politics, before making such posts private, you should consider whether you would be comfortable working somewhere that would choose against working with you if they knew your political convictions.
9. Work Those Company Profiles
Cast your net beyond looking up individual people or positions and take stock of an entire company. LinkedIn provides job seekers to see the page of not just individuals, but companies, too. This can be a godsend for anyone looking to get into a certain business, but struggling to find a path in. On a company's page, you can see what jobs they're looking for, and more importantly, the people who work at the company.
Looking over the listed employees, you can see if a previously-unknown personal connection is out there, or if that fails, whether a friend of a friend exists who could put you in touch.
10. Be Advanced (Use Advanced Search)
Another, more efficient way to find if any jobs out there might be linked to one of your contacts is advanced search. These are the filters that drop down after you search for a job. In regards to linking potential jobs with contacts, it can be useful but limited. Yes, it immediately shows every company with employees in your network offering jobs, but it's only those you've already connected with on LinkedIn. Second- or third-level connections are excluded from this list.
Advanced also lets you filter by experience, date of the job posting, industry, location, and more until you find an opening perfectly catered to you.
11. Follow the Companies You're Interested in
If a company's out there that you're dying for a shot at, remember to follow them. Do this and you'll get updates on the latest news and, more importantly, job openings at the company. No one wants to check back to find someone else filled the job they've always wanted before they even knew it was open.
12. Show Who You Are (Like, Comment, and Share Content On Your LinkedIn)
As with most social media, you won't gain too much attention on LinkedIn without engaging in the platform. Little things like liking, commenting on, and sharing content can go a long way in getting your personality across to prospective employers. Carving out a couple of minutes from the time you spend on Facebook and Twitter (TWTR) can go a long way for drawing in employers.
13. Always List Your Current Position Carefully
The last thing an employer is going to search for is "unemployed." Even if you don't have a job, you should have some sort of current listing. This doesn't mean lie to them. It means getting creative.
Use your present aspirations to guide your current position listing. For example, if you have the qualifying experience and are hoping to land a software engineering job, simply list "Software Engineer Pursuing Work in Developing Information Systems and Software Solutions."
By having a job title that matches your employment goals, companies looking to fill those types of jobs are more likely to come across your profile.
Also, along with "unemployed," make sure to avoid words like "seeking opportunities" or "job searcher" as it'll make you come off as desperate rather than qualified.
14. Find a Professional Group For You
LinkedIn users can be grouped together on merits outside of their employer. When you search something on LinkedIn, click on the "More" button in advanced options to find "Groups." There, you'll find different professional communities, or "groups," organized around whatever it is you just searched it. It can be a specific profession, a general industry, a region, a company, anything with the potential to link workers together in their search for jobs. It's a useful way of getting tips and news within an area you're interested, and even making one or two connections.
15. Don't Stop at LinkedIn!
LinkedIn is a great tool for mapping out and discovering your connections, but it's not worth a thing without real-world contact. Go out there and meet new people, make new connections, or strengthen the ones you already have. Set up face-to-face meetings with people that could be the key to your next job.
While the internet makes it easy to reach out to nearly anyone at any time, it also makes it easy to ignore or forget the people reaching out. Don't be afraid of going the extra mile to make yourself known, it could be all that separates you from being a candidate for a new hire.