Some people I know still avoid LinkedIn, don’t have a profile, or don’t know how to use it. I hear this often, even from some of my own career coaching clients. LinkedIn is here to stay; you can’t avoid it. And why would you want to anyway? It is a wonderful way to network outside of your zip code, expand your job search, stay in touch with professional contacts, and get noticed by employers and recruiters. There are many ways you can leverage LinkedIn and your profile in order to find your next job and to define your career direction. Here are five ways to make LinkedIn work for you, whether you are in job search mode, defining your dream job, or both!
Only connect with reputable people you know. People have different opinions on this approach and I’ve heard both. Some feel that it is more of a popularity contest and how many connections you have. I disagree. Because it is meant for networking and making connections, I believe you should only connect with people you know. The litmus test is if you would be willing to make an introduction to someone and you feel comfortable and good about doing so. If so, it is okay to connect. Otherwise, don’t accept their offer. If a client asks me to connect with one of my connections, I want to be able to say yes and not hesitate because that is the purpose of LinkedIn.
Update your information frequently. Your profile should always be current. Your contacts are notified when you have made updates, and recruiters are searching LinkedIn every day. You want it to be up to date, but also demonstrate that you are active on LinkedIn, showing them that you are taking your career seriously. It is not meant to be a static job search platform. It is the primary function and the reward is mining and growing your network.
Get solid recommendations. No wishy-washy, non-specific recommendations from friends or family members. When you are asking for a recommendation on LinkedIn, tell the person what you would like them to speak to. Hard-hitting, specific recommendations beat out vague ones every time. And don’t have all of your friends and family members write them. Use valid sources that can authentically speak to your professional experience and expertise.
Put your LinkedIn profile link on your resume. This is yet another way for an employer to get to know you and show them you care about your career. They can read your recommendations here and either skip contacting your references, or use them as additional information.
Narrow down your search, and understand what it takes to get the next job. You can also use LinkedIn to further define your career direction. Look at other profiles in the industry or position that you are considering to learn more about what it takes to get there. What experience or education do they have? How did they get to this position? Look at their career progression. Doing this can give you additional leads for informational interviews to learn more about an industry but also can tell you what is required for the job. Review other profiles to learn more and find out what you need to focus on to stand out in your industry.
The number one thing to keep in mind is to use LinkedIn actively as a tool for your job search. Do not let your profile sit there collecting dust. Join groups and network with people that way. Keep your connections up to date on your job search progress. Ask questions that you would like answers to and provide information (useful articles or videos, for example) that might be helpful to others. It will help you stand out in the crowd not only among your connections but also for potential employers.
Guest Blogger Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her team's career coaching services. Set up a Complimentary Career Strategy Session with Hallie Crawford to get advice on your career goals. *Mention you saw us on Talent Zoo and receive a free bonus if you purchase a product or sign up for coaching.*
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