With all the rage around social media in job searching, LinkedIn stands out as the tool of choice for many recruiters to connect with job seekers (or future job seekers).
Knowing how recruiters use the tool may shed some light on how to leverage LinkedIn in your own job search efforts.
Granted, good recruiters use many social media tools to find candidates, like Facebook and Twitter.
However, LinkedIn.com is the largest social network for professionals.
LinkedIn provides the best avenue for a recruiter to quickly learn enough about a person to see if they should be contacted for a particular job opening.
Candidates need to leverage LinkedIn as much as possible to be included in these searches.
To be found on LinkedIn, you need to have a large network because...
LinkedIn search results are limited to those accounts which are the searcher's first, second, and third level connections. If you aren't connected to someone at one of those levels, you won't appear in their search results.
Although many recruiters know how to search for candidates who are outside their own LinkedIn three degrees of connectivity or pay LinkedIn for that access, not all do. Therefore, the more people you are connected to, the more likely you may be connected to recruiters.
Recruiters love invites to your network, too.
Don’t be afraid to ask recruiters to join your network -- they may be unable to ask you to join their network because of LinkedIn’s built-in rules.
When recruiters search for candidates in LinkedIn, they focus on keywords just like the resume databases and applicant tracking systems do.
Without the right keywords, your LinkedIn Profile will not be found.
Your LinkedIn Professional Headline is the perfect place to include the right keywords for your job search. Be specific to attract recruiter attention.
No one searches for a "business professional" but they do search for a "marketing manager who understands how to leverage social media for B2B visibility and sales." So, avoid being too general -- general headlines will not be impressive or contain the right keywords.
There are also ample opportunities to sprinkle in your key abilities and skills within the Summary and Experience sections. Every job you list should include the expertise that you demonstrated in that job. Think keywords!
Read the articles in Guide to LinkedIn SEO to understand more about the techniques: 25 Best Keywords for Your Job Search, 7 Best Ways for IT Professionals to Optimize Keywords for a More Powerful LinkedIn Profile, and Choosing the Best Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile for more information.
Prove that the keywords you have used to describe yourself are accurate.
LinkedIn offers many opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, including these five:
Having recommendations within LinkedIn is a nice way to convey you are a quality candidate. But having more than two from each job looks like you are just asking everyone you know for a recommendation. This can diminish the value of the best and most articulate recommendations you have.
So, unless you have been in one job for many years, two short recommendations are best.
Recruiters sometimes ask for references who are not included in LinkedIn, so be prepared for that request.
If you publish a blog, include it in your Profile. Add it to the contact information near the top of your Profile. Click on the "See contact info" link near the top of your Profile, and then click on the pencil icon in the dialog box that pops open to add and edit the information.
Having a blog included in your Profile adds to your credibility, too. You can show off your technical knowledge and insights as well as your writing skills.
Similarly, you can use another application, SlideShare (which is owned by LinkedIn), to post a PowerPoint presentation on related subject matter. Link those SlideShare pages to your LinkedIn Profile. These will catch the eye of the recruiter, and provide more information about you and the knowledge and skills your presentations demonstrate.
This may look a bit like Facebook's news feed, but remember that it is NOT!
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is NOT Facebook, and should not be the place where you share photos of you and your child playing in the snow (unless taking care of children is your profession) or making political statements.
Use Status Updates in your Profile to share good relevant news and other helpful information, including:
Of course, if you are actively looking for a new job (and are unemployed so you safely can announce this), feel free to post a status of exactly the type of job you’re looking for.
Also, check the "Notifications" stream, and "Like" or share good information shared by others. When appropriate, comment on the others' posts (positively and professionally, not negatively or nastily).
[Read Publishing on LinkedIn: Gain Both Visibility and Credibility, 3 Benefits of LinkedIn Status Updates for Your Job Search, and How to Leverage LinkedIn Status Updates for Your Job Search for more information.]
Currently, every LinkedIn member can belong to as many as 100 Groups, and over 2.1 million Groups exist.
You can be found more easily if you are a member of LinkedIn Groups for your specialty (i.e., .NET, SQL Server, Flex, Information Architects).
LinkedIn will suggest Groups for you to join if you click on the "Work" link at the top of your Profile, which opens the dialog box shown on the left here.
As the image on the left shows, you can also find Groups to join by clicking on the "Groups" icon in the options that drop down when you click on the "Work" icon at the top, right of most LinkedIn pages.
Recruiters love to scan discussions on topics related to positions they are working on in order to find "subject-matter experts."
Posting good information or making well-informed comments on Discussions in Groups relevant to your profession, industry, or, even, location can bring you to the attention of recruiters scanning the Group for good candidates.
Employers and recruiting companies even start their own Groups to share news and attract members. Join, and contribute to discussions or provide valuable news relevant to members.
You can meet and even connect with people on LinkedIn through the dialogs that develop over discussions. People notice those who "like" their posts, and also those who make positive, relevant comments -- not necessarily saying everything is "Great!"
Don't automatically "like" a Discussion to bring yourself to the attention of the person who shared it. Read the related web page first to be sure that you do actually agree with it. If you do, then "like" it.
If you are a reasonably skilled at writing and have good information to share, LinkedIn's blog is a very visible platform.
The articles you publish are highlighted by LinkedIn near the top of your Profile for everyone who visits your Profile to see (and, potentially, read).
Simply click on the "Write an article" link at the top of your LinkedIn home page, as shown above, and get started. You choose when your article is shared with the public on LinkedIn.
Well done, these posts can dramatically raise your visibility as more and more people read and share them. But, even if they don't end up with 5,000 views in a week (or even 50), they demonstrate your communications skills and some aspects of your professional knowledge. A recruiter scanning your Profile is apt to check your articles to gain more insight into your qualifications and personality.
If you want to be contacted by recruiters and potential employers, you must share your contact info.
If they cannot contact you, they cannot hire you.
You can list your Twitter handle and can include your personal Web site or blog (which should also have your contact info). Edit the "Contact Info" in the column on the right near the top of your LinkedIn Profile. You can safely include your email address and phone number. Read To Be Hired, Be Reachable - How to Safely Publish Your Contact Information on LinkedIn for how to do it without compromising your privacy or putting your job at risk.
It’s not a bad idea to include a picture, too.
Recruiters roll through dozens to hundreds of Profiles a month. They don’t always remember names they have seen, but they do remember pictures.
This will help them remember if they have contacted you in the past (and check their files accordingly).
Also, Profiles without pictures can send the message of "anti-social media" or "not social media savvy" or even "fake LinkedIn Profile" or "hiding something."
[Read How Recruiters View Your LinkedIn Profile Photo, Why You Need a LinkedIn Profile Photo, and LinkedIn Profile Photos for Job Seekers Boomers and Over 50 for more information.]
Obviously, you need to make sure you are open to invitations to connect or InMails from recruiters. Make sure your contact settings are set appropriately in your Profile. You can include your preferred contact information in this section, as well as, the Personal Information section.
You should be open to connecting with recruiters even when you are not looking for a job. You may not currently be a job seeker now -- but some day you likely will be.
If you already have a strong network of recruiters on LinkedIn, you’ll be way ahead of the game when it’s time to look for your next opportunity.
[Read Refusing or Accepting LinkedIn Connections for more information.]
Notice that the advice above is all about getting a recruiter to find you, not the other way around. You are presenting yourself to recruiters without any extra outreach work on your part. All you need to do is set up your Profile well, keep it current, stay active on LinkedIn (ten to twenty minutes a day reading and sharing), and LinkedIn does the work for you.
Job-Hunt's Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. Learn more about him through his company site alistsolutions.com. Follow Jeff on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@JLipschultz).