The value of LinkedIn as a job searching and career networking platform cannot be overstated. However, the real value of LinkedIn as a tool for job searching lies deeper than is obvious to a casual user with a LinkedIn profile. If all you’re doing is updating your profile every so often and hoping recruiters will look for you and reach out, you’re missing out.
The LinkedIn database is massive, with millions upon millions of records that are critical to your job-search strategy and plan. Suppose you heard there’s a growing company in your region and want to find out whether your skill set may be useful to them. Previously, you’d have to call, write or visit the company with your resume in tow, or look within your contacts to see whether they know someone within the company. It was slow, tedious and cumbersome, and often bore little fruit.
If you’re on LinkedIn, you can do all that from the comfort of your home. All you need to do is search for the company, and then look for how many people within your network have connections in the company. If you have no direct contact inside, you can use one of your close contacts that has such a connection. You can also check out their leadership team on their profile to see if you have anything in common with the management e.g. they went to your college alma mater. LinkedIn is like X-ray goggles looking through the solid web that is your connections and contacts. Learn how LinkedIn can help you to advance your career and job search.
- Improve your headline
Charity begins at home, and so the first thing to do is to improve your headline. Your name, photo and headline are the only things visible to an online searcher looking in the database. These are the ones that determine whether or not a user will click into your full profile or pass you by. Just saying what you do isn’t enough, you want to tell your future employer who you are and what you can do. “Freelance marketer looking for job opportunity” is a weak headline, but “Experienced marketer looking for small brand to put on the map” says what you want/can do.
- Are you searching actively, or simply on the look-out?
Some employers may not take kindly to open job-searching while in their employ, which could make it difficult to openly state that you’re looking for a job. If you’re unemployed or freelancing, on the other hand, you can openly state what you’re looking for in your headline. “Office Manager looking for over-leveraged CEO to make sane” was a winning headline that was up only two weeks before the owner was recruited by one such CEO. What recruiter wouldn’t call a headliner like that, if only to see what they’re like? If you’re searching under the radar, you may not be able to have such headlines, but you can still improve your headline and profile to show you’re a catch for any business owner/manager.
- Follow companies you’re targeting
Depending on your line of business, you probably have specific companies you’re targeting. If not, start by creating a list of such companies and then search for their company profiles and follow them. This way, you’ll hear about anything new they’re up to, from new product releases to new branches. This is the kind of thing you can mention when establishing contact to the recruiting manager.
- Increase your first-degree network
Think of LinkedIn as a spider-web, the larger your first degree network is, the larger your entire network will be. Each connection has their connection who have their connections and so on. This is especially useful during an active job search where you want more visibility within your networks. If you haven’t been following up on old contacts, do so now. Ask if they’re on LinkedIn and invite them to join and build their own networks. It’s much easier using LinkedIn – simply download your Gmail, Outlook or other webmail address book and send invitation emails to join. You can use Colleagues to connect with old workmates, even if you don’t have their current contact. Just be sure not to misuse it by spamming everyone in your contact list or your invitation privilege may be suspended. Send a personalized email to people you know would appreciate the chance to connect with you.
- Look for introductions
If you find your first-degree contacts know someone you could talk to at your target company, you can ask them to give you an introduction. Simply go to your target company contact’s LinkedIn profile and send them a message through the “Send a Message” option. This gives an arrow on the right-hand side to open a pull-down menu and select “Get an Introduction” where you can use someone you have in common to break down the barrier.
- Know the recruiting manager
To avoid getting lost within the thousands of applications typical of recruiting portals, you have to look for the recruiting manager in the target organization. The recruiting manager in question isn’t the HR, but rather the boss to whom you’ll be reporting when you are hired in a certain post. This should be easy to do unless you’re dealing with a really large organization where there are a gazillion managers and a recruiting department the size of a whole staff at a small company.
If you’re in SEO, you’re probably looking for a marketing director, marketing VP or Digital Marketing Executive for example. Once you have their name, you can send them your pain letter on paper with your resume (ensure it sounds human-voiced i.e. what you’d say if you were talking about it). Since fewer people still use snail mail, you have a better chance of gaining audience with your boss, unlike emails that have a million automatic filters.
You can take days off your white-collar job seeking by being deliberate about your approach, rather than just using the same old techniques applied by millions of professionals just as qualified as you. Use pertinent, professional techniques that address the pain points of your potential recruiters and make you stand out from a database of names and faces.
Derek Iwasiuk has wide-ranging experience in providing SEO services for over twenty years. He has a lot of expertise related to keyword selection, link building and audience targeting as well as all other aspects of off-page and on-page SEO optimization. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.