Five Things Every Job Seeker Needs to Know about LinkedIn
By Cheryl Lynch Simpson
LinkedIn is a critical tool for nearly all job seekers these days, yet many are unaware of the important role this social networking system can play in the success of their search. LinkedIn can make or break a job search for almost any professional – smart seekers will ensure they know the ins and outs of this social networking site for professionals.
1. LinkedIn is the tool of choice for internal and external recruiters. Research by Jobvite reveals that 96% of recruiters use LinkedIn – it’s their #1 candidate sourcing tool. If job seekers want to be discovered by search consultants and employers, then LinkedIn is the place to be. If job seekers ignore LinkedIn, they ensure themselves a long, slow search with few interviews.
2. The LinkedIn Job Board is one of the least effective features of this social networking site. When I ask job seekers if they are active on LinkedIn, they invariably tell me they are. They’re excited to report that they use the LinkedIn job board to search for jobs. The problem is that job boards are one of the slowest ways to search, regardless of which job board is used.
Job boards focus on the Visible Job Market which guarantees job seekers maximum competition since a whopping 85% of all available jobs are never advertised on job boards or media such as newspapers or journals. When you rely on the LinkedIn job board or any other job search engine, you are missing out on that 85%, known as the Hidden Job Market.
3. LinkedIn is an Applicant Tracking System – perhaps one of the world’s largest. Applicant Tracking Systems collect, store, analyze, and rank candidates based on recruiter and employer searches and it’s key words that drive this process. This means that LinkedIn profiles require an infusion of well-placed industry-specific key words in order to rank high enough in search results to capture a recruiter’s attention and win interviews.
There are numerous locations within your LinkedIn profile where key words can and should be added, including your name, title, summary, and work history listings. But you can also add key words in your Skills & Expertise section (use all 50 you’re allowed to list), your Education section, and almost all optional sections (of which there are several).
4. LinkedIn Groups are a secret weapon you can leverage for career management and job search success. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups and I strongly urge joining at least 25 to 30 initially. You can allow your profile to grow organically to 50 over the course of the following months.
Choose a mix of groups, from those dedicated to your industry and key trends to your preferred geographic locations, job search groups, and alumni groups. Groups dramatically expand the reach of your LinkedIn network and enable you to message people you aren’t yet connected to – something LinkedIn won’t let you do otherwise.
5. LinkedIn is a fabulous business intelligence-gathering tool. Beyond creating a profile, joining groups, and connecting people, what can you use LinkedIn for? One of its most important and under-utilized usages is as an information resource on people, organizations, and companies.
For example, you can use LinkedIn to target companies in your industry and use company pages to find out the company’s openings, recent hires, and employees. You can also find out who in your network is connected to someone at that company – valuable insight if you’re trying to get your foot in the door. Many organizations use their company pages to promote their product and services, so they can also be a good way to prepare for networking meetings and interviews.
Employed wisely, LinkedIn can help you to dramatically shorten your job search from the U.S. average of 12 months down to two to six. And if you’re not in active search mode, building a LinkedIn presence when you don’t need it may help set the stage for your next career transition long before you need it.
Cheryl Lynch Simpson is an award-winning resume writer and LinkedIn strategist. She offers a complimentary Polish Your LinkedIn Profile audio through Executive Resume Rescue.