LinkedIn is the most powerful professional networking platform on the market today. It’s an invaluable tool for finding new employment opportunities and getting yourself in front of hiring managers. But many job-seekers only use LinkedIn as a static online resume. This is a wasted opportunity. Knowing how to use LinkedIn to its full potential will help you stand out amid the crowded field of applicants and could be the difference between getting passed over and getting that job interview.
Here are the 5 things you should be doing on LinkedIn:
- Build Quality Connections
Some people use a shotgun approach to connecting on LinkedIn. They fire off dozens, even hundreds of impersonal connection requests to anyone in their field. This approach will almost always backfire.
For starters, no one likes to receive spammy InMails and cut-and-paste connection requests. The chances of anyone enthusiastically accepting these requests is minimal. But for argument’s sake let’s say that you do get someone to accept. It’s not likely that this connection will ever make an effort to help you, or be willing/able to endorse your skills or recommend you.
When it come to connections, quality trumps quantity.
Forget the size of your network and focus instead on cultivating high quality connections by building a genuine relationship with a smaller number of people. By liking comments, sharing updates, and taking an active role in your community, you’ll create the kind of connections that are useful in your job hunt. Which leads to our next rule….
- Be Active
One of the easiest ways to set yourself apart from the mob of job-seekers is to become an active member of your field’s LinkedIn community. It’s so simple – anyone can do it – but few people actually take the time and effort.
By being an active voice you’ll instantly gain visibility and credibility. Your activity will help you stand out when hiring managers and prospective employers run searches through LinkedIn.
It’s also a good idea to follow the thought leaders and influencers in your field. This will keep you up to date on your industry and give you fodder for conversations during an interview.
Remember that online networking is no different than old-fashioned networking: it takes time and effort. Put yourself out there, take a genuine interest in other people, and offer to help others. This is the best way to get results.
- List Resume Highlights Only
It wasn’t so long ago that a traditional paper resume was the only way to apply for a job. As a junior recruiter I remember wading through thousands of paper resumes. Applicants cut content to make sure everything neatly fit into the confines of one or two pages.
Then along came the internet with it’s unlimited white space and infinite scrolling.
Now without handy stopping points, job-seekers make the mistake of listing every role and responsibility they can think of.
Content overload is a sure-fire way to make a prospective employer’s eyes glass over and click onto the next profile.
Recruiters and hiring managers look for candidates who will add value to their organization, and the best way for candidates to demonstrate this is not with a laundry list of assignments, but with a list of results.
Refrain from putting your entire employment history and every responsibility. Instead, focus on the results that you delivered.
Every line should speak to a professional accomplishment.
If it doesn’t then it belongs on the virtual cutting-room floor.
- Use SEO
Remember that LinkedIn is a database. If you want to make it easy for prospective employers to find you, then you’ll need to create a profile with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind.
This doesn’t mean sprinkling industry buzz-words around – it means knowing the skills that employers in your field are looking for and incorporating these into your profile.
Not sure what prospective employers are looking for?
Start by looking at profiles of successful people in your field. Take note of their accomplishments and their skills. Now list these applicable skills in your own Skills section and garner endorsements from people whose opinions carry weight (I’m sure your mother-in-law can attest to your ability at Project Management, but no employer is going to take that into account).
Send your current and past colleagues an email request asking if they’d be willing to endorse your skills. Make sure you return the favor by endorsing theirs, or better yet, be proactive and endorse their skills first. You’ll find that most people will instantly return the favor.
- Be a Mentor
I encourage everyone to participate in LinkedIn for Good – the social impact arm of LinkedIn. It’s mission is to provide underserved communities with the network, skills, and opportunities they need to succeed.
By becoming a mentor in the LinkedIn for Good community, you’ll have the opportunity to make a direct and positive impact in the lives of others and build lasting relationships. Helping others just makes you feel good, but let’s not forget that mentoring is also beneficial for you.
For starters, it establishes you as an authority in your field. It also provides you with resume fodder and builds goodwill with people who will one day be working in your field. Who knows, some may even wind up as your colleague?
To sum it up – by helping others you’ll expand your own network, build your resume, and impress potential employers. And if all that doesn’t convince you, then maybe these stats will:
- 41% of LinkedIn hiring managers consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating candidates.
- 20% of hiring managers in the U.S. agree they have hired candidates because of their volunteer work experience.
- 27% of job seekers are more likely to be hired, when unemployed, if they volunteer.
So there you have it, the 5 things you should be doing on LinkedIn. By following these powerful guidelines you’ll put yourself in a position to create a winning online brand, impress prospective employers, and get that interview. And once you do get that interview, I’ve got some tips for that too.