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How to Stand Out on LinkedIn: 12 LinkedIn Tips for Job Seekers

12 LinkedIn Tips for Job Seekers

Just when there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that our economy was heading toward a recovery, we receive more bad news: nearly 26 million workers in America are now either unemployed or underemployed. The June unemployment rate was 9.5% and 45.5% of the unemployed have been seeking work for more than six months.

While Congress debates the need to extend unemployment benefits, recent data shows that the number of unemployed workers outnumbers the number of jobs available by a significant margin. There are now nearly 5 unemployed workers for every available job opening.

With so many people out of work, it’s no surprise that LinkedIn has seen a significant increase in traffic. The world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn now boasts 70 million members in 200 countries worldwide. You’ll find executives and upper-level management (hiring and HR managers, for example) from every Fortune 500 companies on LinkedIn, as well as top recruiters. June 2010 numbers reveal that 70% of LinkedIn members use LinkedIn to look for a job, while 80% of its members use it as a recruiting tool. So, whether you’re looking for a job or looking for clients, having a presence on LinkedIn means that people who are looking for someone with your experience will be able to find you.

Even if your job seems fairly safe, it makes sense to know how to use social networking sites so that, in the event you find yourself unemployed down the road, you’re better prepared. It’s a good idea to work on building your LinkedIn network before you actually need it. When times are tough, online networking is a survival skill everyone should have.

Don’t Get Left Out of the Benefits of LinkedIn

The concept behind using professional networking sites like LinkedIn is based upon the six degrees of separation theory: you and anyone you hope to meet are separated by a maximum of six people/connections. So, the more connections you make, the more friends-of-friends you can meet, and the better your chances of finding a contact who can make an introduction that might result in a job or a client for you. The key, of course, is making the right connections.

Many people have a LinkedIn profile and a handful of connections, but don’t really know how to grow their network. Facebook and Twitter have a low-key feel that makes connecting with people fun and easy. LinkedIn, as business-focused networking site, has a much more formal feel that can be a little daunting to some. The LinkedIn Learning Center offers some great how-to information to help you get started. Here are a few tips aimed primary at job seekers, although some can be applied if you’re looking for new clients.

12 Tips to Put LinkedIn to Work for You

  1. Craft a great profile that showcases your skills and experience and helps you stand out. According to LinkedIn, users with a complete profile are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn
  2. Spread the word that you’re looking for work. These days, there’s no stigma for being unemployed and the more people who know you’re looking, the better. Answer the question, “What are you working on?” with something like: “Looking for a Senior Business Analyst position with a healthcare firm in the Albuquerque area.” You can also get the word out in the title area of your profile, which everyone sees with your photo in your public LinkedIn listing. Since you currently don’t have a position title, write something creative like “Innovative Marketer With Left and Right Brain Versatility” An email blast to people in your network is another good way to get the word out and express your appreciation for any potential leads.
  3. Use advanced search to find companies that employ people with your skills. For example, if you’re web developer in the Santa Fe area, conduct a search for people in your zip code area and then type in keywords related to your skill set such as “web developer,” “perl,” “JavaScript,” “php,”etc. The results will give you an idea of where people with your background are working.
  4. Search (Research) Company Profiles. Clicking on the “Companies” option on the top navigation bar takes you to the Company Search page. This is a must-use research tool that helps you find and explore companies that might be potential employers. You can research everything from where a company’s employees worked before they worked there or where they went after they left, to whether or not the company is still hiring by checking out the “New Hires” section.
  5. Search LinkedIn’s Job Postings for career opportunities. I recommend using the Advanced Job Search option so that you can input more specific search parameters. (Don’t forget to post your resume on online job boards, such as Monster and Craig’s List, as well in relevant trade publications.)
  6. Find an inside connection to a company you’re interested in so that you can get the name of the hiring manager or HR person, or get the inside scoop on what really matters for a posted job. Company profiles list company employees in your network (up to 3 degrees of separation from you) and LinkedIn’s job search engine also highlights positions in your network where you have a connection. Pay special attention to jobs that show a connection to someone who is no more than two degrees away. This means that you know someone who knows the person that posted the job.
  7. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups to tap into professionals outside of your immediate network. You can join discussions, ask a member of your group to offer advice or critique your resume, or post your availability on the group’s discussion board and ask leads to any career opportunities in your field. You can also connect with former college alumni. Groups are also a good way to make connections with people who you might want to invite into your network. When you ask someone to join your network, LinkedIn asks you to specify how you know them. If you’re a member of the same group or association you can mention that connection in your customized invitation message and increase the likelihood of acceptance.
  8. If you have a blog, feed it to your LinkedIn profile. Every time you add a new blog post your update will appear on your profile. This will give potential employers or recruiters a bigger picture of what you’re all about. Just be very conscious and careful about what you post. Even posting something that you feel is innocuous, such as a brief political rant about a specific issue, might hurt you. If you can’t keep your posts from being too personal, forego the feed option. And don’t forget to promote your LinkedIn profile on your blog.
  9. Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations. Ask past colleagues, managers, and clients/customers to recommend you. A strong recommendation from a supervisor should highlight your strengths, while recommendations from associates and colleagues can mention your leadership qualities. I’ve read that some recruiters won’t even look at a resume unless the candidate has a certain number of recommendations.
  10. Use LinkedIn’s Q & A Forum to promote your knowledge and capabilities. Search for questions about your industry and/or field and answer them. This showcases your expertise to both potential employers and clients and is good way to develop job opportunities or projects with new clients.
  11. Search LinkedIn Event listings to network with people in your area in person. Online networking should complement, not replace traditional networking efforts. So, don’t forget to get off the computer and meet people face to face. Invite influential people to lunch or ask to meet for coffee. Call people you’ve met or spoken to in the past to touch base about any potential opportunities where they work, of where someone they know works. More and more, it’s going to be who you know that gets you the job.
  12. Research starting your own business. Maybe losing your job will motivate you to start that small business you’ve been dreaming about for years. Use Advanced Company Search to research competitive businesses in your area (make sure you use the geographic filter). Use Advanced People Search to find potential business partners, staff, or customers—and use your connections to get advice.

Resources to enhance your job hunting arsenal

  • Using the Social Web to Find Work. A free downloadable PDF e-book by Chris Brogan
  • Integrated Alliances. A business-focused social networking training company that offers a free Q & A webinar with a LinkedIn expert every Monday at noon Eastern time.
  • Visual CV. A social media-based online resume that can be quickly developed and easily distributed to potential employers. What I love about Visual CV is that it allows you to add interactive samples via video, audio, images and downloadable documents that give prospective employers an impressive resume package. It’s a great alternative to creating an online “blogfolio.” Did I mention it’s free? Resume Bucket, Gig Tide, and Emerse also offer free platforms to create, publish, manage, and track online resumes.

If you know someone who has been laid off, share this article with them. (You’ll find a Share This widget below this post.) Chances are they’ll appreciate all the help they can get.