So you’ve finally started to take LinkedIn seriously, and while you have a Profile, you may wonder why you’re not receiving any benefit from it.
The truth is, if you’ve only joined LinkedIn and are standing back at a distance (metaphorically) to observe, what’s missing is YOU. Your personality, value in building relationships, and online identity are still not fully formed if all you’ve done is merely join LinkedIn.
So, even if you’re late to the LinkedIn party, here are some steps you can take on the way from novice user to super-connected, job-hunting expert:
Fill in your Profile with as much information as possible.
As one recruiter recently said about finding nearly empty Profiles of job seekers, “It’s a turnoff to see someone create a Profile and then abandon it. It’s as if they’re at a networking even standing in a corner with their back to the room, saying leave me alone.”
The way that you populate your information and the search optimization of your content is CRITICAL to the impression others have of your professional status.
In addition, it pays to take a look at the way others use the site. Get used to searching for people in your field, using the search bar at the top of every page and selecting People in the results. Click on Filter and you’ll see options for selecting job titles, keywords, locations, and other criteria.
One recruiter noted that when she uses LinkedIn for recruiting, she’s “more likely to skip over someone who has not filled out the descriptions in their job history.” Even if all you have to use is your resume content or job description, this data can help recruiters understand each of your jobs, degrees, and skills.
Don’t forget to add a professional headshot to your Profile, as this is also a critical piece of your online brand message.
Accept others’ invitations to connect and create some of your own.
This isn’t Facebook, and you aren’t being judged by the company you keep. Each Connection brings you closer in the web of relationships on LinkedIn to a recruiter, potential new colleague, or hiring manager.
Gaining new relationships is critical: as you become more familiar with the site and take more action visible to your connections, you’ll benefit from wider exposure to others that can help with your job search.
Even if you don’t “know” your Connections personally, you can think of LinkedIn as an open forum that allows you to expand your professional reputation, person by person, toward your goal.
You can create new Connections by letting LinkedIn import the contents of your email address book, reaching out to those contacts that interest you, or by accepting the invitations sent your way.
Take a moment to look closely at the near-constant changes.
As LinkedIn continues to release beta versions of new search tools, Profile sections, database categories, and other goodies, there’s always something new, particularly since Microsoft bought the site and is quickly rolling out new features. Regularly review through your News Feed, Settings & Privacy, and Profile View to see what’s changed.
Rather than ignore these functions, take a moment to review the releases to see if they can benefit you. Start leveraging Skills, if you haven’t already done so; recruiters and business users mine this section for the right talent.
Surf around to see what the site has to offer.
There’s a wealth of activity on LinkedIn that will escape you if you don’t take the time to learn about it. For example, you can join Groups that reflect both your job title and field of interest, making it easier for recruiters to contact you through these areas on the site.
Events are also often posted in various industries; as some are virtual, you can make a note to attend even if you can’t be there in person. This activity is also frequently scrutinized by others on LinkedIn.
Your News Feed is a great tool for bolstering your personal brand. Here, you can respond to polls, add comments, or issue a post of your own. Be aware, however, that this is a professional forum, and anything you post is widely readable by all site users (including your boss!).
These steps toward maximizing LinkedIn are just your crash course! To learn more about LinkedIn, check in regularly, follow Companies that interest you, apply to job postings, and continually engage other users.
– Originally published by Laura Smith-Proulx on www.job-hunt.org