How to Use LinkedIn to Find Your Next Job

By Michelle Hutchinson

Woman at computerWith a 2014 Jobvite survey reporting that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find potential job candidates, you can’t afford NOT to be using LinkedIn in your job search. And with all the new features LinkedIn has added, this professional networking site now gives you the opportunity to showcase more than what you can highlight on a resume. Jeff Sheehan, co-founder of Transition Sherpa, a company that uses a comprehensive approach to help their clients find jobs, recently provided these 18 tips for using LinkedIn to your land your next position.

  • Set your profile to public view. That will enable recruiters to find you.
  • Under “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile,” choose your name and headline. Don’t be anonymous. Jeff says that you want companies and individuals to know that you were looking at them.
  • Make sure your headline displays a title that exemplifies your area of expertise. If you’re a forensic accountant, use Forensic Accountant as your headline. If you have several areas of expertise that are relevant to positions you are seeking, enter more than one title, for example, Project Manager | Quality Assurance Professional.
  • Enter your location or the location of the city in which you want to work below your title. That way, for example, if a hiring manager is looking for a commercial banker in the Greater Cleveland Area and that describes you, you’re more likely to come up in a LinkedIn search that uses “commercial banker” and “Cleveland.”
  • Upload a professional head shot to your profile. Take a look at the two images below. Which person would you prefer to hire?

Head shot and faceless avatar

Don’t take a selfie. If you can’t afford the services of a professional photographer, check with local career ministries. Many of them have professional photographers who volunteer at the ministries’ meetings and take head shots for free. If you can’t have your picture taken by a professional photographer, then stand in front of a solid-colored wall or a neatly arranged bookcase and have a friend take a few head shots of you.

  • Turn off “Viewers of this profile also viewed.” That way, if recruiters look at your profile, they won’t see potential competitors on the lower right side of the screen.
  • Under the Experience section of your profile, do more than fill in your job titles and the names of companies you worked for. Insert your job descriptions, brief descriptions of the companies (which you can copy and paste from the companies’ websites), and most importantly, a bulleted list of your accomplishments and results, all of which I’ve long been advising for resumes. This allows you to get key words and phrases into your profile, words and phrases recruiters are likely to type into a search. If you’re not sure what key words and phrases you should use, look at job postings that are similar to the types of positions you’re seeking; the words that come up over and over in those ads are the key words. If you can’t recognize those words by reading the ads, then copy and paste the content of three or four ads into wordle.net and create a word cloud. The words that are used most often will appear as the largest words in the cloud.
  • Complete the Summary section of your profile using key words and phrases too, but don’t overdo it. Forcing key words and phrases into your profile might get you to rank higher in a LinkedIn search, but it’s unethical, and hiring managers will recognize what you’re doing as soon as they look at your profile.
  • Make it easy for recruiters to get in touch with you by putting your email address and cell phone number on your profile. If a recruiter can’t figure out how to reach you, he/she will move on to the next person. For security purposes, don’t list your home address or home phone number on your profile.
  • Customize your public profile URL so that it’s not followed by a long string of letters and numbers. If you’re not sure how to do that, type “Customize URL” into LinkedIn’s Help Center, and the first hit that comes up will provide the instructions.
  • Fill in the sections of your profile that are devoted to presentations, projects, languages, patents, publications, education, licenses and certifications, honors and awards, etc., as these present more opportunities to showcase your expertise and get key words and phrases into your profile without forcing them.
  • Under the Skills section, list your top 5-7 skills. Once you get over 99 endorsements for a particular skill, you can add another skill to the list. As Jeff says, “Go narrow, not wide.”
  • Get recommendations. Because a LinkedIn recommendation takes more time to write than the nanosecond it takes to endorse someone for a skill, recommendations are more meaningful and credible than skill endorsements. If a current or prior supervisor or colleague has complimented something you did, ask him or her to write a LinkedIn recommendation for you.
  • Keep score of how many people are looking at your profile. If the number is low, you need to place more key words and phrases in your profile. If you don’t know how to check who has viewed your profile, type “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” into LinkedIn’s Help Center, and the first hit that comes up will provide the instructions.

Graph of LinkedIn profile views

  • Post updates with links to industry-relevant articles. Your connections can like, comment on, and share your posts, creating the potential for hundreds of other people to see you.
  • Engage connections with happy birthday wishes and congratulatory notes for promotions and work anniversaries. These notifications show up in your news feed and are also emailed to you. Sending a note through LinkedIn allows you to rekindle lapsed relationships. Make sure you personalize those notes. Don’t resort to the default messages that LinkedIn provides.
  • Join industry groups. Follow relevant discussions in LinkedIn groups, and when have something new to add to a forum, provide a response so that you position yourself as an expert. Don’t be self-promotional; be informative and educational. Commenting in group discussions also helps you stay top of mind with your contacts, because your comments show up in your connections’ news feeds.
  • Connect with influencers. See who is frequently quoted in the press or is well known in your industry, find them on LinkedIn, and invite them to connect with you. Again, don’t use the default LinkedIn message. Instead, personalize your invitation by writing something like:

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thanks for the information you provided in the recent Forbes article on manufacturing processes and trends. I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

If you follow these 18 tips and continue to grow your network on LinkedIn, you should start getting leads about open positions in your industry. And while you’re at it, go ahead and connect with Jeff. You’ll find him at www.linkedin.com/in/jeffsheehan2010. Notice how he customized his URL. ;-)

What questions do you have about using LinkedIn in your job search? Click on Leave a comment below to ask your question.

Image sources: http://mrg.bz/i0X4EZ and http://mrg.bz/EIhSCN.

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