Recruiters use LinkedIn extensively for finding candidates. It is an inexpensive way for recruiters to find potential talent, not only as a primary source for talent but also for networking. As a job seeker, here are some tips to leverage LinkedIn to make sure you are "findable" by recruiters and other people that are looking.
1) Just like Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, and corporate candidate databases, LinkedIn allows keyword searching and matching. So it's vital that you take advantage of this feature. (See my previous entry on effective keyword usage on your resume.) Here are the main fields that recruiters use in conjunction together:
-keyword. LinkedIn does not allow for complex searches, so usually we only use one or two keywords at a time in conjunction with other fields. Certifications and Registrations. Think acronyms. (PMP, ITIL, RN, MSW)
-title (past and present)
2) Resume: If you look on your profile page over to the right, there is a small icon for the Adobe PDF next to the printer. This handy dandy little widget converts a LinkedIn profile to a PDF document that looks remarkably like a...resume! I remember how enthusiastic I was when this was added, because it meant I could save the profile as a PDF to share with my hiring managers. SO, what does this mean? *treat your LinkedIn profile like a resume.* Follow the same rules of thumb you would with composing your resume. Don't just list your company, title and dates of employment. Give some detail as to *what you do/did.* Help us find you, and make yourself appealing.
3) Websites: "My company", or "My blog". I've often managed to contact people from their "website" links. Sometimes it is a second business, or perhaps it's a link to your blog with a "contact me" section. Remember, if someone isn't in your first degree contacts, they cannot contact you unless you are a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) or enable open communication except if you are in ...
4) Groups: when you join various "groups" on LinkedIn, especially professional or special interest groups, you can choose to let other members of the group contact you. For example, I belong to several groups such as Linked: Seattle and the Seattle Job Social and Amazon Alumni, where I can post jobs and connect up with other people. On top of that, each group has a "jobs" tab where recruiters or hiring managers can post their jobs. (It costs $195 to post a single job for 30 days in the actual "jobs" section of LinkedIn. The "jobs" tabs are a much more cost-effective and generate more interest.) Treat the groups as you would any other professional organization: as a great way to connect with other professionals and like-minded individuals. Join in discussions, make yourself a known quantity. Give people a reason to *want to get to know you* as a resource, and possibly even for generating some business or leads in your field.
5) Status Report: on your Profile page, you can update your status, and also share out that information as a tweet on your twitter account. This is a great tool because these updates come as email network updates to important individuals in your network, like former colleagues, recruiters, industry professionals, etc., and it integrates Twitter with your LI account. Remember: Twitter is an amazing platform for gathering information, disseminating *your* expertise and branding yourself. Having it integrated with LI is a brilliant move. Don't just keep a "Steve Smith is seeking new opportunities" or "Jean Doe is available to help you with your staffing needs." Update your profile often; share interesting links to articles or updates to your blog (with the URL of course) about your industry. Keep it fresh and interesting.
6) Recommendations: I have heard of companies in Seattle that don't ask for references any more. They only use LI recommendations. What does this tell you? That those recommendations are important. And that it is vital to get them *before you think you might need them.* Who should they be from? Managers, peers, clients. People that can attest to your work. The same people that you would use as references when asked for them. These days, many companies have stringent policies about not giving any sort of post-layoff references, so you should start gathering them well before you need them. In addition to your own references, if you get your network email updates and see someone you know is gathering references, it might be a clue that s/he is getting ready to start looking for a new job. Make sure that whomever you are asking/giving for references is someone with whom you have a solid working relationship. I recently was asked for a recommendation for someone that I have known for over a decade, but only socially. I told her I was not comfortable commenting on her work, as I've never worked with her (she also lives on the other side of the country and isn't in recruiting.)
7) Put your LinkedIn profile URL on your resume and your business cards. Recruiters check LI profiles. Make sure your experience on your profile *matches* your resume. At this month's Seattle Job Social, I was gratified to see very few resumes and lots of folks handing me business cards with their LI url's on them.
8) Please don't have multiple LinkedIn profiles and accounts. I know one recruiter I was looking up that had four profiles all under different email addresses. If I have to look *that hard* to find you I'm going to lose interest.
9) Speaking of email : Use *all your email addresses* to accept LI invitations. If you are actively seeking work, put your email address in your *profile* somewhere so that I can contact you easily. Create a job seeking email address if you don't want to share your contact information with the world.
10) Link to Recruiters. This should be a very basic no-brainer. Even if recruiters are out of work themselves, they still know other recruiters that have job openings.
11) Be reciprocal. Don't just ask and ask for people to forward *your* requests. Help others. Pay it forward. This is about building communities and networks.
12) Check out other people's profiles in your field. See what they are doing, what their updates are, what sort of articles they are reading. This is a way to learn about your own industry. See what groups they belong to and join them. If they list external blogs, go read it and comment. It helps build your credibility and gives you visibility.
LinkedIn is a valuable, robust community filled with interesting people and potential business contacts. If you are a job seeker, make yourself attractive to potential employers, and network your way into an excellent job.
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Karen G Anderson: Re: Leveraging LinkedIn For The Job Seeker
Thank you! This is an eye-opener. I have been contacted by recruiters who found me on LinkedIn, and now I can see what aspects of my LinkedIn resume attracted them. I hope this post is getting a ton of visits — I'm certainly going to send the jobseekers I know to look at it.
Kristen: Author comment
Glad to help. As a recruiter, part of why I write a blog for job seekers is to make my life a bit easier, in addition to helping other people. It's part of my own "pay it forward" values.
Brian Hottel: Re: Leveraging LinkedIn For The Job Seeker
Thank you for taking the time to share your article. If job seekers follow your advice, it will be easier for recruiters to find the candidates they are looking for.
Isabella Tagore: Re: Leveraging LinkedIn For The Job Seeker
I thought this was a great article; however, numbers 4 and 5 kind of threw me a bit.
The information seemed to be more for recruiters rather than job seekers.
As usual you writer the best most informative articles and I continue to read them.
Kristen: Re: Leveraging LinkedIn For The Job Seeker
Hi Isabella, part of the purpose of this blog is to try and allow the job seeker to see how recruiters find candidates, by providing them insight into where and how we look for candidates.
The Answers section is one of the best way for *anyone* to stimulate interest in them...be it for business development, to attract potential employers/employees, gain recognition from industry colleagues, or even get the attention of a reporter doing research on a story. (I have been approached this way a few times.) It all boils down to maximizing the potential of networking, regardless of your "use".
Chris: Questions on #2 and #3
For #2, LinkedIn has posted recommendations to not treat your profile as a full resume (ugly link at the bottom of this message). While I definitely agree saying nothing about what you did at company X is way too little, LinkedIn is recommending that users "don't cut and paste your resume". What's your take on this and what recommendations do you have?
For #3, regarding not being able to contact someone you're not connected to, it was my understanding that it could be done. I'm still learning to use LinkedIn so I might be missing something, but I've received InMail cold from a recruiter already and when I go to "View My Profile", at the bottom it says:
"How a user can contact you depends on how he or she is connected to you:
•If a connection views your profile, he or she sees your email address
•If a user in your network views your profile, he or she sees a “Get Introduced” button
•If a user in the LinkedIn Network tries to view your profile, he or she will see an anonymous profile and a “Contact Directly” button"
What am I overlooking or missing?
Kristen (author): Re: Leveraging LinkedIn For The Job Seeker
Regarding #2: LinkedIn serves many purposes for different networkers. I specifically addressed the needs of job seekers. I don't suggest cutting and pasting your resume verbatim, and there is a LI utility that allows you to upload full documents including your resume. However, if you are in the market for a new job, it is much easier to beef up your LI profile and have that be a more subtle indication that you are looking for new job than posting your resume on Monster, CareerBuilder or Dice. Some companies have been known to terminate someone if their resume shows up on the job boards (rare, but we live in an at-will employment state so no reason is necessary.)
Personally, in today's market I would always suggest that job seekers use every available avenue to them, and since LI is where a significant number of recruiters go to look, it only makes sense to make yourself available and appealing to them.
In response to #3, LinkedIn has several price packages and levels of membership. Keep in mind that recruiters are generally reviewing *hundreds* of resumes daily. Even the most robust of LI's packages has a monthly limit to it. The most comprehensive "Pro" package allows only 50 messages per month to be sent, and 700 candidates viewable per search; it costs $500/month. The message limit is via the "inmail" utility. Once you have used up all those mails, you have to wait until the following month to reset.
Recruiters have been very hard hit in this economy, and many have gone to contingency based contracts with larger organizations just to make some money. This means they only get paid for candidates hired. Since the standard ratio of candidates: hire is roughly 20:1 (depending on the role), that is a lot of time and energy, to get paid only after the candidate has started. Many independent recruiters have limited money for overhead costs, and $500 every month for premium LI isn't one of them. Thus, I am suggesting that candidates make their job as easy as possible to better everyone's chances all around.
Hope that helps. Feel free to contact me with any other questions.
Chris: Re: Leveraging LinkedIn For The Job Seeker
Thanks for the answers; they are truly enlightening, especially the LinkedIn cost structure.
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