In today’s tough employment market, job search tools are essential. Although important before, using social media to facilitate a job search has gained even more significance since the COVID-19 pandemic. In the era of social distancing and remote work, these platforms offer a practical way to search for a job. While most social media platforms offer job posting and search services, the undisputed champ in this area is LinkedIn. Find out how to leverage a LinkedIn profile for jobseekers.
LinkedIn has shown remarkable staying power in a dynamic industry. Since its inception in 2002, LinkedIn has grown in membership and influence. Today, the site boasts a community of over 738 million users and 55+ million companies in over 200 countries. But it’s not just the size of the community that makes LinkedIn an effective job search tool, it’s the number of recruiters using the tool. Over 95% of recruiters and headhunters regularly use the platform to search for and connect with qualified talent.
Why Is Having a LinkedIn Profile Important for a Successful Job Search?
With 20+ million positions currently posted, LinkedIn has gained universal credibility as an efficient way to find a job, research interesting companies, and find job search information. In fact, LinkedIn statistics report that 75% of people who recently changed jobs used LinkedIn to inform their job search. As added bonuses, they also report that jobs obtained via LinkedIn tend to be higher-paying, and employees hired using the website are 40% less likely to leave the company within the first six months.
In addition to the above reasons for leveraging LinkedIn for job search success, a well-developed profile serves to:
- Strengthen your credibility with potential employers by backing up and complementing the information in your resume.
- Facilitate networking opportunities with other professionals in your field by connecting with them directly or participating in industry forums.
- Act as a platform to build your professional brand by creating and curating relevant content on your news feed.
- Provide an opportunity for potential employers to learn more about you when you add information about volunteer work and interests.
If you need a foolproof plan to help you leverage LinkedIn for your remote career, follow the Virtual Vocations LinkedIn Cheat Sheet. By using it, you can discover the importance of a strong LinkedIn profile, as well as a brief overview of the do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn profiles.
So, how can you leverage LinkedIn for success in your job search? To maximize your efforts, below are some LinkedIn job search tips do’s and don’ts.
DO Develop a Strategy to Leverage LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a comprehensive tool and users can get lost researching new features and reworking profile sections. Developing a strategy to leverage LinkedIn presence will optimize your time spent on the platform. Identify and incorporate opportunities presented by the platform that make the most sense in your situation.
- What is your job target?
- Are there profile sections you will focus on?
- Do you know what skills and experience to highlight?
- What groups should you belong to?
- How will you find and communicate with relevant connections?
DO Make Your Profile as Complete as Possible
Results of an ingenious field experiment indicated that job applicants who included a link to a comprehensive LinkedIn profile on their resumes received a callback rate of 13.5%—71% higher than the 7.9% rate of applicants with no LinkedIn profile. However, a sparsely completed profile led to a callback rate 0.7% less than those who didn’t have a LinkedIn profile at all. So, make sure to include all your work and volunteer experience. In addition, this is a good place to show a little of your personal interests and passions as well.
DON’T Be Careless About What You Put in Your Profile and Your Posts
According to a recent Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) survey, 84% of organizations use social media for recruiting and 43% use it to screen applicants. What you say and do online matters. In your LinkedIn activities, use professional language, avoid controversy, and don’t let it get too personal. This is not the place for pics of your puppy or emotional responses to today’s political stories.
DO Add a Profile Pic
For better or worse, profiles with a portrait photo are much more likely to be viewed than those without. In fact, LinkedIn profiles can get 20-30 times more engagement just by adding a profile photo. Also, profile pics will help you get recognized by people you know. When choosing your photo, remember that this is a professional platform you are using to find a job. Group shots, couple pics, funny dogs, and cute kids are inappropriate. It is well worth the money to get a professional headshot.
DON’T Forget to Add a Banner
While you’re at it, add a banner. You can use this space to reflect your personality, your location, or your profession. Again, make sure it’s an appropriate image that adequately represents your brand. Your city skyline, a recent event you planned, or a product you designed. If you don’t have anything you took yourself or you want a graphic, be careful not to violate anyone’s copyright. Stock image websites are ideal for purchasing high-quality images of almost anything for a reasonable price.
DO Create a Unique Headline
A unique headline can be one of the most eye-catching parts of your profile. As a default, LinkedIn automatically uses your current role and company as your headline, but this should be changed to something more personalized. One of the ways you can do this is to use your job title and then list several functions after it. For example, if you are a certified resume writer, your headline could look something like this:
Certified Resume Writer & Career Coach | Job Search Strategy | LinkedIn Profiles | Interview Prep | Remote Employment
You should also consider what knowledge, skills, and abilities a recruiter might be looking for to fill a role you are interested in and then use those skills as keywords in your headline. Keep in mind, however, that there is a 120-character limit, so make sure you’re highlighting the most important skills you want your connections and any recruiters to know.
DO Write a Thoughtful About Section
To fully leverage LinkedIn, spend some time developing a solid “About” section. Think of it as a written version of your 30-second elevator speech, but you have 2,600 characters with which to do it! Let it serve to introduce you, highlight your accomplishments, and let recruiters know what you are looking for in a friendly, informal way. Write it in the first person, and be sure to include any hard numbers or positive outcomes that highlight your abilities.
DO Use Keywords to Leverage LinkedIn Profiles
One way to get discovered by recruiters and matched with relevant jobs is to identify and use targeted keywords throughout your profile. Research your dream job posts and identify important keywords recruiters may be looking for. Add these to your headline, about, job descriptions, and skills sections as appropriate. You can test how well you did by clicking on the “Jobs” tab in your profile to see how closely the jobs selected based on your profile match what you are looking for. You can also click on a job you would like to apply for and check the “How you match” section of the position description to see how many skills you have identified as required by the recruiter.
DON’T Be Shy
Professional networking is the most effective way to find a new job, and the number one way people discover a new position is through a referral. With in-person networking opportunities on hold due to COVID-19, online networking is the best opportunity to make those crucial connections with professionals who can help.
A good goal for LinkedIn networking is to aim for at least 500 connections, so you can begin building your network by reaching out to 5-10 people per week. When you do send your connection requests, it’s important to personalize your connection request. While you only have 300 characters with which to craft your message, including a relevant detail can improve the chances of your connection accepting your request. This could include mentioning a shared colleague, the fact that you went to the same college, or even that you used to work at the same company and want to stay in touch. Here are some examples:
I’m so happy to have found you on LinkedIn after hearing positive reviews on your work and your projects from our mutual colleague, Paul! I thought it would be nice to connect. Perhaps we could collaborate one of these days with my work for ABC Company.
I’m glad I found you here on LinkedIn! It was great speaking to you at the Remote Work online conference! I’m working for XYZ Company, and I would love to connect with you. Are you available for a quick conversation later this week?
Looking forward to hearing back from you!
I’m also a member of the Current & Aspiring Telecommuters group and I noticed that you have insightful comments and posts about remote work. I work for XYZ Company and would love to connect with you as a like-minded remote professional!
Hope to speak soon,
DON’T Value Quantity Over Quality in Your Connections
Unlike Twitter or Instagram, LinkedIn will cap the public listing of your connections at 500. So, whether you have 500 or 5 million connections, no one will know but you. This frees you up to focus on the quality of your connections rather than the quantity. Target your connection requests to focus on those in your industry or in a similar position to what you are looking for and follow up with customized messages. You never know who your first connections may know that can help your job search. You might find connections in people you know personally, past bosses of colleagues, college classmates/alumni, industry related groups, professional contacts, and second-level connections.
Don’t forget to mine all your current non-LinkedIn contacts, too. You may be surprised by how many people you know have LinkedIn accounts.
Once connected, you can work on developing those connections. Most professionals are more than happy to answer questions regarding their position or company. If you’re looking to establish a deeper relationship, see if they will agree to an informational interview via video call.
DO Carefully Establish Your Privacy Settings
Take time to thoroughly explore all the sections of your privacy settings. Remember that any privacy restriction you add will limit who can view your profile. One of the most useful settings is under “Job seeking preferences” where you can let recruiters know you are actively looking without that information being visible to your current employer. So, you can look without looking like you’re looking.
DON’T Be a Lurker
One of the places recruiters look for candidates is in industry groups. So, join one or more relevant professional groups offered on LinkedIn and take part in the discussion. These groups are also often where relevant job postings can be found. Another way to participate is to skim your news feed for anything relevant or interesting and comment as appropriate. Remember that depending on your privacy settings, your recent activity will be visible to viewers of your profile.
DO Create Your Own Content to Leverage LinkedIn
With LinkedIn you can create and post your own articles and videos. This is a wonderful way to expose a potentially huge audience to your knowledge and experience. If your skills aren’t up to par, you can call on a friend or connection for help. If you really don’t feel you can publish your own content, you can share other content that you come across, but make sure to compose a thoughtful comment to go with it. Everything you publish will show up on your connections’ news feeds. Also, they can be found via hashtag when you add those to your post.
DON’T Set It and Forget It
While you don’t want to waste time, you will get out of LinkedIn what you put into it. Treat your profile as a living document. Keep your profile up to date, adding to it when you complete projects, join organizations, receive awards, and so on. Also, to leverage LinkedIn to its fullest extent, you will need to allocate a few hours a week during an active job search. In addition to applying for positions, you can research and communicate with your connections, potential employers, and relevant influencers.
DON’T Waste Your Time
As with any social media platform, getting side-tracked and distracted by irrelevant videos, articles, and conversations is a realistic possibility. You can avoid this by having set tasks to accomplish. In addition—while it’s good to skim—you can also limit your news feed time to overcome distraction.
Leverage LinkedIn to Find the Perfect Remote Job
LinkedIn is a large, and at times, confusing social media application with a myriad of opportunities to both put your best foot forward. By following the do’s and don’ts presented above, you possess the information you need to successfully leverage LinkedIn. If you still have questions or decide that a professionally written profile is your best option, contact our highly qualified Career Services professionals for help.
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