I recently was reading an article and the comments on www.CareerJournal.com about using LinkedIn to conduct a job search while you are already employed: Promoting Your Job Search When You’re Already Employed (July 8, 2010) . There was a comment from an individual who griped about never receiving a job inquiry from a recruiter/employer through LinkedIn. This prompted me to question – what should one expect from online networking sites (like LinkedIn) with regards to their job search?
Recruiters can go into the system and conduct a search (keyword, seniority level, location, etc.) to help identify possible candidates. This usually happens for job openings where candidates are not plentiful as there is little incentive to dig for more candidates if there are plenty of qualified candidates applying for a particular opening. But how about for the job seeker who is one of 500 applicants for a job, how does LinkedIn work for you?
At a minimum, sites like LinkedIn provide an online presence and another arena for marketing one’s abilities. By creating a profile, you allow a potential employer to find you and learn some additional facts about you. Here are tips to increase your chances of being noticed:
- Create a Robust Profile. If a recruiter sees you have only listed your jobs and degree and no supporting information, there is no incentive for the recruiter to call you to find out more about you. Add a Summary where you detail what you can offer an employer and your accomplishments. Be sure to highlight successes and skills (ones that are desired by your target employers) in the Experience section. Show the recruiter/employer what you can bring to the table.
- Keep it Professional. We all have heard the stories of the person who lost a job offer when the hiring employer saw unflattering posts/pictures of the candidate on a networking site. Keep your LinkedIn profile professional. This means be careful what information you put on your profile (ex: leave off your marital status, profile pictures should be appropriate for the office), don’t include negative items about former employers, be selective what groups you join, etc.
- Be Active: Many job seekers create a profile and then stop. Just think of the old adage about ‘You get out what you put in’ – start thoughtful discussions on your group boards, add insightful posts to existing discussions, offer recommendations to people you trust and ask for recommendations from individuals you trust. Be active in your groups – employers/recruiters will see you have been participating/recommended/active and will see this in a positive light.
- Two Way Street: “It is in giving that we receive” – be open to assisting others (requests for advice, information, etc.) as the more you are willing to help others, the more those individuals will be willing to help you. Today you may be helping someone who has questions, tomorrow you may be asking another group member for information about a job opening at her company. Networking is a two way street, and those who are looking out just for themselves and never reciprocate in helping others, tend to find networking very difficult.
- It is Only One Tool: So a recruiter may not beat down your door with job in hand, but LinkedIn can still be useful in your job search – you may never even know it helped. Hiring managers and recruiters may filter through an applicant pool and then view your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you prior to deciding if they want to invite you for an interview. A robust profile with recommendations and relevant group associations could give you the edge in receiving the offer of an interview over other qualified candidates.
In the end, LinkedIn and other networking sites can be useful in your job search, but one should never think of it as a ‘one-stop’ destination.