“If you build it, he will come.” Sure, it worked for Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella in the movie Field of Dreams, but anyone who believes that simply building a LinkedIn profile will automatically set off a flood of calls from recruiters and send endless job opportunities falling into his or her lap is probably dreaming. Social media and professional networking are critical components to any job search today. LinkedIn combines these two worlds by providing a professional networking platform in a social media format, but a LinkedIn profile probably won’t work very well for your job search if it’s sitting there idle. Here we provide a handful of tips for launching a proactive job search on LinkedIn to help you get the most out of this online networking tool.
Get Acclimated To LinkedIn’s Features
LinkedIn is adding and removing features all of the time. If you haven’t been on the site in awhile, set aside some time to peruse the various features and settings. See how your profile looks to others and check out how your connections are using theirs. LinkedIn also has a company blog where it provides current information and announcements for users.
Know Your Privacy Settings
Is your job search public or private? If you currently have a job, then you probably want to keep a lid on the fact that you’re looking for other opportunities. LinkedIn allows customization of your privacy settings to control how much of your activity others (like your boss and colleagues) can see. To keep your job search private, pay special attention to these settings: activity broadcasts and activity feed, those that show you’ve viewed someone’s profile, and the visibility of your groups. Note that even if a group is not visible on your profile, your activity in a group can be seen by other group members. You can, however, respond privately to another group member’s post. Finally, if you purchased a premium subscription, note that LinkedIn adds a “badge” to your profile. You can hide this badge (a briefcase icon) so others will not know that you have purchased the premium subscription.
Strut Your Stuff
What better way to showcase your abilities than providing specific examples? The summary, experience and education sections of your LinkedIn profile allow you to either “Add a link” or “Upload a file.” Use these features to create a visual portfolio and include samples of your best work for others to see. These examples bring your job description to life and enable hiring managers to see how you’ve gone above and beyond your stated job duties.
Ask For Advice Or Information, But Don’t Ask For A Job
Networking is about building relationships, and relationships are built in steps and over time. The first step is not asking someone for a job, or asking them to pass along your resume. They might not tell you so, but your contact could be offended if they haven’t heard from you in ages and now you’re there to ask for a job. Find ways to continually engage and stay connected. We provide some tips for that below. Approach a contact to ask for their opinion or advice, or ask them if they’ll share information with you. If you’ve spent time getting to know others and provide value, in time you might not have to ask for a job or a referral, you’ll be the first to come to mind when the right opportunity arises.
Be An Active Participant
LinkedIn provides many opportunities for active involvement. Status updates provide a blank canvas for connecting with your LinkedIn contacts and staying visible in their activity feeds. You can share interesting articles, information, job opportunities, events and inspiration, or ask questions or ask for advice.
You’ll also see in your activity feed what your connections are posting and updates such as new positions or work anniversaries. You can comment on any of these posts, share your support and expertise with your network and celebrate their accomplishments with them.
Groups provide another avenue for being active on LinkedIn. You can participate in alumni groups, groups based on professional interests or specific fields. Engage in discussions and ask or answer questions. Groups are a great way to meet, network with and stay connected to others who share your interests.
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