How to Use LinkedIn As a Tool in Your Job Search by Christopher Zybert

So you are looking for a job. You have checked every job board imaginable, and applied for every position you have found. So far so good! However, there is much more involved in a job search today than ever before, as social networks provide new forums in which to promote and find employment. New applications are developed and implemented every day across popular mediums such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even YouTube. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how to maximize their presence within these forums. Maximizing your online presence can greatly increase your chances of finding your dream job, being recognized by other professionals, and revitalizing your job search.

The most obvious social network for a job seeker to utilize is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is used by 69 of the Fortune 100 companies, operates in over 200 countries, and is home for over 100 million members worldwide. With such a staggering presence of business professionals, it is obvious why LinkedIn has become such a powerhouse in the working world.

Now begins the true test - How can one better use LinkedIn to find employment? Make the most out of your profile. Your profile is the most important part of your social network and should be carefully crafted.

Photo: A proper profile photo is crucial for any professional on LinkedIn's social network job search. Keep in mind that this one photograph will be visible everywhere your profile is. First impressions are very important, and we live in a very visual culture- so your profile photograph should reflect and emphasize the type of professional you are. In essence, LinkedIn is an extension of a traditional resume and should be treated as such. If your photo is too personal or inappropriate to show your employer, then it should not be your profile picture.

Headline: This is a very simple section of your profile, but proves to be one of the most important. The LinkedIn headline is important for a job seeker because it displays your name, what you do, where you do it, and what your specialization is. Determine what you want to be found for, the job you desire/currently have, and your skills that prove most applicable. Your headline is going to be the second thing employers see after your photo, and should generalize what the rest of your profile will provide.

Keywords: Just like a website, LinkedIn relies on certain criteria for bumping your profile to the top of search results. This criteria includes relevancy and keywords. Once you have established what type of job you want to be discovered for, you can begin to research your competition.

For example, imagine you are a job seeker who wants to be found for your skills in marketing. Your first step would be to search LinkedIn for other individuals competing for first page results in marketing. Be sure to use LinkedIn's advanced search feature to assure your results are based around your geographical location (there is no need to compete with someone across the country).

Once you have your results, begin observing the top profiles listed. Once you have their profile open, command search (cntrl+F) the document for your keyword- in this case "marketing". The number of times that the word "marketing" is displayed is now your number to beat. If their profile has the word marketing displayed 31 times, then listing 32 in your profile will give you the top slot for that search! While much of your efforts to find work will involve searching on your end, being a highly viewed passive job seeker can tremendously improve your results.

Easy right? Unfortunately, many individuals keyword "cram". Keyword cramming is when an individual fills their profile with buzz words they wish to be found for, often times copy and pasting the same list of skills over and over. While this will result in an unbeatable profile in search rankings, it will also make your profile look weak, especially to those who understand how the search engine functions.

Summary: Now that we understand how the key use of keywords will help you and your skill set appear in others searches, you should begin writing your summary. Your summary should not be a work history, but instead a supplement to your history. Keep in mind that this is a social network, not a resume! You should provide information that cannot be conveyed in a simple resume format. Showcase your soft skills or tell a story in which your expertise shines. Be sure to keep your profile simple. Just like a resume, others visiting your profile will not be there long, and they will leave even sooner if they see a wall of text.

Experience: This is a very straightforward field of any LinkedIn profile. This section will include a brief list of your past work experiences for others to view. Unlike the bulk of your resume, LinkedIn allows much more room to elaborate on your experiences during your time spent working elsewhere. Be sure when displaying your work history you do not list every job you have had since high school. Just like your traditional resume, you should include your most recent professions, especially those that relate to you field of work. Remember: Keywords count here as well. Be sure to include the keywords you wish to be found for via past positions.

Skills: What skills do you have? Give employers some of your top most proficiency, and as always, keywords count!

Recommendations: Your recommendations are permanent digital references. The stronger the recommendation, the better you are going to look. If you do not have any, do not panic! Asking others for a recommendation takes little to no time, and the benefit their words of praise can bring to your profile is priceless.

Contact and Connections: How do you want to be reached? Make sure that the reasons why you are networking are displayed to those who visit your profile. If you do not list "job opportunities" as a reason to contact, then LinkedIn will prevent job opportunities from reaching you!

Now it is time to identify what social networks you wish to be found on. LinkedIn allows users to connect their own websites, Twitter account, and even your Facebook page. Having a diverse network on which to connect will optimize your profile.

Now that we have your profile established, you can begin networking. There are several ways in which one can network on LinkedIn:

Groups: Groups on LinkedIn are forums designed around a particular interest or profession. It is a great way to find vital information about job searching, industry news, while they provide a place to showcase your knowledge. Providing current information for your peers or joining in their conversations will begin to establish your expertise. Over time, with informative material an invaluable input you will become labeled as an authority, giving you and your profile more leverage as you expand your connections.

You can join up to 50 groups! It is beneficial to join as many applicable groups as you can find- There is no such thing as too much information!

LinkedIn Answers: LinkedIn Answers is a functionality which allows questions to be asked and answered by other LinkedIn users. Participation and knowledge is vital, and illustrating your knowledge can be further achieved here. Answering the industry related questions of others will further promote you as an expert.

Connect: Search for others in your field of work. Half the battle is expanding who you know, and there are thousands of senior professionals on the web that would love to help you! Find professionals in your industry and ask them those important questions that you have. Establish a relationship with someone who could someday interview you. If you talk with another professional on the phone, connect with them. If you attend a networking conference, find the profiles that go with those new business cards. If done correctly, your LinkedIn profile will not only represent you, but provide an infinite storage place for your contacts.

And Last But Not Least

Job Search: LinkedIn provides a great functionality of job searching. Job seekers can enter into the jobs tab, and begin searching positions by title, keywords, location, date listed, and even find jobs where established connections work.

It might seem unorthodox to put job search at the bottom of an article about job seeking on LinkedIn. However, without having a strong profile your search will not be as beneficial. LinkedIn will even tailor a list of job opportunities that may be appealing to you and your skill set. A weak profile might discourage hiring managers, and with an inside connection (or even better one that recommended you) you are more likely to get an interview.

LinkedIn is a powerful and professional social networking site, designed to bring professionals together, and to network like you have never networked before. LinkedIn has created a place where the phrase, "It's not what you know, but who you know," no longer applies. Instead, it is what you know and who you know, paired together to optimize your professional presence.

Networking online should not be your only avenue for finding employment. Utilizing a recruiter is a fantastic way to help you find great opportunities. The Vesume Group is an innovative IT, Engineering, Accounting/Finance, and Call Center staffing agency. Our video resumes and experienced staff are devoted to finding and placing great talent with amazing opportunities. To learn how The Vesume Group can help you find or fill a job, contact us today!

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