I know a lot of people who are surprised that LinkedIn hasn’t vanished into social media history with Friendster and MySpace. I tell them that once you’ve begun to use LinkedIn for what it was intended for “a networking tool that helps you discover inside connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners…” you begin to see why it’s still here and what makes it so valuable. If you’re not already on LinkedIn, you definitely need to be, even if you already have a job you are happy with and plenty of clients knocking on your door. Sign up! It doesn’t take long to set up a profile; you never know what the future could hold or what opportunity you have been missing out on. No matter how the economy or your career is doing, having a strong network is a good form of job security. Don’t wait until times are tough to start networking, you’ll just be playing catch up. With LinkedIn and other forms of social media it’s not always who you know but also who knows of you. Building a large and effective network never hurt anyone. Having an up to date resume available online for anyone interested is highly valuable. Everyone wants to know who it is that they are doing business with and this provides an easy way for people to check you out. LinkedIn is in my opinion the best option for a resume, you are able to list your job history, educational background and get recommendations from past and current employers and co-workers. Since LinkedIn is a business relationship tool it makes it a perfect place for job searching. Just like any other tool, it is only valuable to you if you use it and know how to use the tool properly.
When signing up for LinkedIn, there are a few setting that you want to make sure that you have right before adding all those great connections. Be sure to sign up with an email address that you own. Use a personal email address, not a company one. In the event that you lose your job, your employer technically owns your account and you may lose access to it. It is all right to list your employer’s email; in fact you should add it there. Just don’t list it as your primary email, make it a secondary email so that you can change it if needed. Next be sure to select your vanity URL. If it is available, using your first and last name or your website name; I have my vanity URL set to digitalhitchhiker. Once you are all signed up you need to make sure that your profile is complete, accurate and professional. As I mentioned in my previous post; with your Facebook profile, your profile photo is the first thing people see when they come to your page. No matter how much I enjoy the photo of myself eating that giant sandwich from Big-Ass Sandwiches you wont find it as my LinkedIn profile photo. Next make sure you put your full work history but you are not limited to that one of two-page rule they preach in College. Be as complete, truthful and professional as possible with your knowledge, skills, and achievements without going overboard. You want to impress the person reading without turning them off and make sure you come up on as many search results as possible. Again just like I mentioned on the “Leveraging Facebook To Find Work" blog entry, do not lie. The information is out there and you will be exposed.
Having your resume looking great is killer but one of my favorite features on LinkedIn is the ability to get and give recommendations that show up right on your profile. This makes it easy to establish yourself as an individual who is competent and trustworthy. Nothing beats a rock star recommendation from a boss or past client highlighting your strengths and showing they valued working with you. How do you go about recommendations? The simplest way is to ask. Those past and current connection if they enjoyed working with you and value your experience are more then happy to sing your praise. Another way is to provide recommendations for others because once they post your recommendation on there profile page, LinkedIn has a call to action for them to return the favor and you’ll find that most people will. You want to have a good group of connections on LinkedIn of past and current employers and co-workers to get these recommendations from. Don’t be afraid to connect with the boss of your last job as long as you left on good terms. Or if you are a current intern at a company connect with the staff in the office, they are more likely to accept you on LinkedIn than on Facebook. I accept whenever an intern at Daily Planet ltd. asks, I like to see where they go once they leave and if they were a good worker I’m more then happy to help them find work in the future.
A new feature that was added recently is great if you are a designer and have a behance.net profile. Behance and LinkedIn teamed up to showcase your portfolio right on your profile. Many of you already know I love the behance network and have been using it for over two years. It’s a valuable tool to showcase you work and shouldn’t be skipped if you are a design, editor, motion artist or animator.
Linkedin doesn’t end at your profile and the connection, the creators and developers have build a lot of useful tools onto the site as well. One of those is LinkedIn Answers, which is an easy feature to forget about on the site. Answers allow users to enter questions that they want answered and other users answer these questions. Just like on Facebook and Twitter it is important to engage with other users and the Answers section of LinkedIn is perfect for that. It will allow you to connect with new people by presenting yourself as knowledgeable within your field. Another feature that’s just as important as LinkedIn Answers, is the Groups. The Groups are simliar to the ones on Facebook and they allow to you interact with people with similar interests and quickly discover the most popular discussions in your professional groups. Having an active part in discussions in your groups help showcase your knowledge and allows you to interact with possible future connections. Anyway you can show you are knowledgeable in your area is a plus. If you have a wordpress blog that relates to your industry be sure to install the wordpress application that imports the feed into LinkedIn. One of your connections may notice something that catches their eye and head over to your site to find out more about you and your work.
Since the point of this post is to use LinkedIn to find work, I can’t forget about the portion of the website called Jobs. Keeping with the LinkedIn spirit, you are able to see any relation that you may already have to the jobs posted. If one of your 3rd Degree contacts post a job, you will know exactly who you need to talk to in order to get your foot in the door. This can be a huge advantage when compared to just blindly sending emails out with your profile or resume.
Finally a simple thing, but don’t forget to just search. Hopefully hiring managers are searching the site and coming across your killer profile but you can also find out who is hiring. The best case is getting to someone in the HR department or a new client via a connection you have, but if that isn’t possible you can still use LinkedIn to find someone inside the company to pass your resume or profile on. Nothing beats having you name mentioned from someone already on the inside. Also if you search and realize you have a connection that has worked at this company or with this client before, ask them for the inside scoop. They could have the key you’re looking for to land that killer job.
If you haven’t noticed a trend already, the key to using social media to get work is to be professional, engage with your network and community and use the tools that have been given to you.