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LinkedIn for Job Seekers: Four Tips to Shorten Your Job Search

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Patrice-Anne Rutledge shows you how to make the most out of LinkedIn as a job search tool with four tips that help you find a job faster.
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Want to improve your job search results on LinkedIn? Moving beyond the basics can help you improve your chances of finding the perfect position. In this article, you learn four tips for making the most of LinkedIn as a job search tool. You also learn how to create a stellar profile that stands out from the competition; enhance your profile with images, video, portfolio samples, and more; increase your LinkedIn networking opportunities; and uncover the hidden job market.

Polish Your Profile

The first step in your LinkedIn job search campaign is to make your profile recruiter-ready. Your profile is your number-one selling tool on LinkedIn. Make sure that it accurately portrays your professional expertise, highlights what you have to offer a potential employer, and differentiates you from other qualified job candidates.

Here are my favorite tips to help you ensure your profile is ready for the spotlight:

  1. Create a headline that conveys what you have to offer. By default, LinkedIn uses a combination of your title and current company name as your professional headline. Consider customizing your headline, however, if you’re unemployed or if your job title alone doesn’t easily convey what you do. For example, you can include targeted keywords, professional certifications, or degrees in your headline to make it stand out (see Figure 1).
  2. Figure 1 Customize your headline to focus on your LinkedIn goals

    Some examples:

    • PMP-Certified IT Project Manager Seeking New Opportunities
    • Public Relations Executive, MBA, APR, Fellow PRSA
    • Recent Graduate Seeking an Entry-Level Position in Social Media
  3. Use keywords relevant to your industry. Every industry has its buzzwords, and you need to include these in your profile if they’re terms a recruiter or potential employer would search for. For example, an IT professional might include keywords such as “Java,” “Oracle,” “SAP,” or “AJAX.” A project manager might select “PMP,” “PMI,” “UML,” “SDLC,” or “Six Sigma.” A public relations professional, on the other hand, could choose “PRSA,” “APR,” or “social media.” Be careful, however, not to spam your profile with repeated use of the same keywords. For example, I once viewed a profile that listed the word “copywriter” 50 times as a job description with no other content (most likely a desperate attempt by this LinkedIn member to rank for the term “copywriter”). This violates LinkedIn policy, and other members could flag your profile as inappropriate. 
  4. Show some personality. Recruiters often look at hundreds of profiles a day. Make yours memorable by injecting some personality, particularly in your profile summary. You don’t want to overdo it and sound too chatty, but giving others some insight into who you are as a person can help you stand out in a sea of competitors.
  5. Be specific. It’s important to showcase specific accomplishments rather than simply list job duties. In other words, don’t just say that you were responsible for managing a budget. Instead, describe the budget scope and savings you achieved using actual numbers.  
  6. Keep it concise. Remember that a profile isn’t a resume and shouldn’t include the level of detail a resume does (you can attach a resume as a media file if you like). A profile is a strategic summary of your professional background designed to achieve a specific goal such as finding a job. Delete all extraneous or outdated information.
  7. Showcase your skills. In the Skills & Endorsements section of your profile, you can add up to 50 professional skills, as shown in Figure 2. Your professional connections can endorse you for these skills with a single mouse click, making it far easier to get endorsements than recommendations (although these usually carry more weight). Skills also serve as keywords, so be sure to include any terms a recruiter might search for to find someone like you. If you’re not sure which skills to list, look at the profiles of your professional peers for some inspiration.
  8. Figure 2 Have your connections endorse you for your top skills

  9. Add optional sections wisely. LinkedIn enables you to add optional sections to your profile. Sample sections include Projects, Languages, Publications, Honors & Awards, Test Scores, Courses, Certifications, Patents, Volunteering & Causes, and more. Although these sections can help you highlight special accomplishments, add a new section only if it’s truly relevant to your current job search. For example, listing test scores and courses you’ve taken is more relevant to a new graduate than an experienced professional.
  10. Ensure your profile is free of any spelling or grammatical errors. Even one typo can damage your professional reputation. I once reviewed a LinkedIn profile for a proofreader candidate whose Summary section indicated she had excellent "proofeating" skills. You don't want to be that person. If your spelling and grammar skills aren’t stellar, enlist the help of someone with expertise in this area to give your profile a final polish.

Add Media Files That Showcase Your Experience

LinkedIn enables you to enhance your profile with multimedia work samples such as images, videos, audio files, PDF documents, presentations, portfolios, and more (see Figure 3). You can upload a file from your computer or insert a link to a file on a supported website, such as SlideShare, Behance, or YouTube. Linking to a website or a favorite blog post is another option. You can add media files to the Summary, Education, or Experience sections.

Figure 3 Sample media files including a website link, YouTube video, image, SlideShare presentation, and PDF document

Adding media files to your profile not only showcases your work, but also makes it stand out from text-only profiles. As a job seeker, you might want to post your resume, articles you’ve written, presentations you’ve given (either YouTube videos or slides from SlideShare, for example), or portfolio samples if you’re a creative professional.

Before uploading any media, consider both confidentially and privacy concerns. Some employers prohibit employees from posting company-related documents, reports, or presentations. Be sure to verify an employer’s rules on this topic before posting. Also, review documents for personal information such as addresses or phone numbers, and remove any content you don’t want to make public. For example, you might not want to include your street address or home phone number on a resume.

Become a Groupie

LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups to ensure that you’re selective in your group membership. You can search for potential groups to join using the search box at the top of any LinkedIn screen. The best groups are ones that are very active, have a large membership, and directly relate to your profession or geographic location (see Figure 4).

After joining, make it habit to contribute meaningful commentary to ongoing discussions, and start your own discussions on occasion. This activity can lead to making connections with people influential in your field, including recruiters, hiring managers, and peers who know about relevant job openings. Many groups also have a Jobs tab that lists related positions.

Figure 4 Search for active groups with lots of members

Move Beyond Job Listings

Although LinkedIn is a great resource for high-quality job listings, hundreds of other LinkedIn members are also applying for these same jobs, lessening your chance of the being the perfect candidate. For better results, look where your competitors aren’t looking. Here are two of my favorite ways to find potential employers on LinkedIn:

  • Search for companies in your targeted industry and geographic location. This technique can help you discover potential employers who aren’t already on your radar. From here, you can review their LinkedIn Company Pages to view open opportunities as well as employees in your network.
  • Perform an advanced people search to find recruiters and hiring managers at targeted employees, as shown in Figure 5. You can search for people at a specific company, search for people in a specific industry and geographic location, or search by title (such as recruiter or the title of a person you might report to). Be aware that some search criteria requires a LinkedIn premium account, which are highlighted with the orange premium icon. Although LinkedIn offers numerous free features for job seekers, upgrading to a premium Job Seeker account is an option if you want access to additional features.

Figure 5 The Advanced People Search page offers many options for finding the right people

Summary

Many job seekers on LinkedIn focus on perfecting their profiles and applying to jobs. Although this is a good start, active participation in the greater LinkedIn community can amplify your job search, grow your professional network, and uncover hidden job opportunities.

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