Most people have heard of LinkedIn® (LI) and may even have an account. What I want to discuss today is if you are looking for a job and don’t have a LI account (a basic account that is free is all you need), get one. If you have one, some easy things to make it work better for you.
First, a brief (well, we’ll see about that) history of LI. It started out as a business to business networking platform where people selling products and services could connect to people needing said products and services by leveraging their “connections” (people also on LI that you officially connect to – business acquaintances, former colleagues, friends & family, etc. You send a request to connect and they decide to accept or not or they request to you to connect.) The thinking is that these connections know folks who may be potential customers of yours and can provide anything from a simple intro making an otherwise “cold” call a little warmer all the way to setting the foundation for putting together a bona fide business deal. It probably still does this today to some extent, but I believe the larger part of LI’s activity is around recruiting. Using the same principles of the business deals, it is a way of connecting potential employees to employers/recruiters in a less intrusive way than traditional “headhunting.” This is why you need to be on there and be current in your profile.
After you have created an account, the first thing I suggest you do is have your resume open too. You want to replicate your resume history back about 10 years or however long it is relevant to the jobs you are looking for today. You needn’t be as granular in LI as your resume. A one or two sentence “snapshot” will suffice, more of a teaser than the whole story. If you work with any specific technologies that make you very valuable, do mention those in the LI profile. It will help people find you in keyword searches.
After your profile is set, you can do a few things that will connect you to people hiring:
- There is a place in your profile to put website links. Make sure you have a resume online for someone to click to. You don’t need to pay web hosting charges to do this. Get a Google account, upload your word resume to Google applications and hit a button that says “publish to the web” and you have created an online resume. It will have bizarre URL with a lot of mumbo jumbo characters, but just copy that URL into your websites listings (you can have 3 i think), and simply name it “my resume”. Recruiters will click right to it without needing to know the long URL. Alternatively, LI has a 3rd party application you can add called box.net. You can create file cabinets right in your profile and assign who can see them and who can’t. You can upload your resume in its native state there.
- Connect. Connect. Connect. Search all the companies you worked for or did business with, where you went to college, friends and yes even family. As long as you A. Have an email address of these people or B. can show you worked with them in some capacity you can request a connection.
- Get “pre-qualified”. One great thing about LI is it allows people to write recommendations for you that outline where you worked with the endorser and in what capacity (co-worker, did business with, superior, subordinate, peer from different group, etc.) Ask your connections to write a recommendation for you. Recruiters love this. They can quickly assess your strengths. The more the better, as long as they are well balanced. Generally 80% of people you ask to recommend you will do it. Not that the other 20% think you are a slouch, but they just don’t have time or forget to do so. That’s why the more you can request, the higher your yield will be. You will have the opportunity to review the recommendation prior to it going on your profile so you can ask for any changes or modifications or even choose to use at all. Also, reciprocate any recommendation! They took the time to endorse you, so return the favor.
OK, there is a lot more ground to cover, but I will stop there for now. Next post will be about proper care and maintenance of your LI profile and utilizing the LI groups feature.