I am often asked by job seekers if it is really worth their time and effort to use Linked In in their job search. Bottom line: use it only if you are serious about finding your next job! Why is Linked In so important in your job search?
- Building Your Professional Network – The single most important thing you can do in your job search is networking. Linked In makes it easier than ever to identify contacts in your target companies. It is highly unlikely you will land your next position by simply applying online. You need to build a network of supporters at your target companies so that when the perfect opportunity is posted, you have an inside connection who can pass your resume to the hiring manager. It is challenging to stand out in the flood of online applications but most hiring managers will take a look at resumes referred from a trusted colleague.
- The Value of Second and Third Degree Connections and Groups – In the past networking was more challenging because you had to rely primarily on people you knew personally already. With Linked In the true power comes through your second and third degree connections. People you know also know many other people. This greatly expands the pool for identifying contacts in your target organizations. With group you can make connections without waiting for an introduction. Leverage alumni groups for school and former employers as well as affinity groups for your profession. This enables you to expand your network exponentially.
- Informational Interviews – A critical component of your networking strategy should be informational interviews to learn more about the companies on your target list and their career paths and hiring practices. Linked In enables you to identify relevant connections for informational interviews. Then ask each contact for additional introductions.
- Reconnecting with Former Colleagues – You may have lost contact with former colleagues once you left the company. Find them on Linked In to see where they are now and who else they may know to assist you in your search.
- References – It is critical to have references for your search and chances are your references may have moved to other companies since you last worked together. Linked In is a convenient way to find them and to reconnect with them. Be sure to ask permissions to list them as a reference and verity their contact information in advance. When you expect a company will be contacting your references, let them know in advance to expect the call and provide background on the position and why you feel you are good fit.
- Helping Others Find You – While Linked In is extremely valuable in helping you find contacts, it is also becoming a valuable tool for recruiters to find specific skill sets and experience. Be sure you have a compelling and descriptive heading, not just your current title. Have a complete profile so potential employers can quickly see the highlights of your experience and education. Include a summary to focus on your key transferrable skills and your major professional accomplishments. Make it easy for recruiters to find you.