A carefully written résumé is the most important tool in your job search arsenal — it’s what lands you job interviews, after all. But another equally, and sometimes more, important tool that too many jobseekers often neglect is LinkedIn.
Yes, it’s primarily a professional networking platform, but never underestimate the power of LinkedIn when it comes to looking for new opportunities. In fact, hiring managers use LinkedIn to screen potential candidates, so a well-written profile is bound to open more opportunities for you.
And you can use this to advantage.
Here’s how to effectively navigate your LinkedIn job search — and come away with more interviews and better offers.
1. Follow the companies you’re interested in
Want to get noticed by the companies you’re hoping to work for? Follow them.
Why? Because you’ll be able to stay ahead of the game when jobs open up, generate leads that can turn into referrals to those job openings, and generally learn more about a company’s mission, culture and activities for your interview preparation.
Plus, when potential employers see that you follow their company on LinkedIn (as opposed to simply applying for jobs left, right and center with no clear strategy), they’ll figure that you really are interested in their company and that you keep up with what they’re doing. And, as a result, they’ll be more inclined to invite you to an interview — provided, of course, that you meet the criteria.
2. Add a professional photo
It’s true: you should generally avoid including a photo in your résumé (except in very special cases, such as for modeling and acting roles). Indeed, it can open you up to discrimination and unconscious bias, while it also takes up valuable real estate that could otherwise be better used to market your experience, skills and achievements.
But your LinkedIn profile needs a photo. After all, it looks weird — nay, it looks like you’re hiding something — if you leave your profile photo blank. Not only does adding a photo to your profile negate this, but it also helps you build your personal brand, as you put a face to your name. This, as a result, gives you credibility as a jobseeker and makes recruiters trust you.
Make sure your profile photo is appropriate for your LinkedIn job search if you want hiring managers to take you seriously (that means no snaps of you wearing a concert T-shirt from the 90s or passed out in a bar). Instead, consider investing $50 to $500 for a professional headshot.
3. Regularly share updates
When using LinkedIn to find a job, it’s a good idea to be an active user. This means regularly sharing updates and posts about things like growth hacks, personal experiences and tips, and even long-form articles. This helps you get your name out there, boosts your credibility as an expert within your industry and develops your brand, ultimately making you a desirable candidate.
You don’t have to post to your LinkedIn profile every day — although there’s nothing wrong with that (just make sure to limit your posts to one a day). Still, you should aim for a minimum of two posts a week so that you can increase your followers and connections, and make sure they remember you.
4. Comment on high-profile posts
Not only should you be actively posting on LinkedIn, but you should be actively engaging with others. And not just on your own posts — theirs, too. In fact, make it a point to comment on high-profile posts by top influencers, your connections and the companies you’re interested in working for.
Make sure that your responses are strategic and add value to the conversation — otherwise, it’s no use. Only by asking interesting questions, sharing your expert opinion and generally showing genuine curiosity will you be able to build your network and, ultimately, get one step closer to your dream job.
5. Get endorsed for your skills
Although the skills section of your résumé is a great place to communicate your expertise to potential employers, it is somewhat restrictive in that you can’t exactly prove the legitimacy of said expertise. After all, anyone can say they know how to perform cardiovascular surgery!
With your LinkedIn profile, though, not only can you show off your skills, but you also have the added benefit of being endorsed for them by coworkers, supervisors and employers — and this gives you more credibility. Indeed, when recruiters see that your surgery skills are endorsed by no other than the Secretary of Health and Human Services, for example, they’ll move you up to the top of the candidate list.
The moral of the story here is: always be asking for endorsements — and make sure to return the favor!
Although you can list up to 50 skills on your LinkedIn profile, it’s best to stick to about 10 of your most relevant skills so you get found for the jobs you’re interested in. On the other hand, if you list too many, your endorsements can get scattered, which can hurt your overall discoverability.
6. Join LinkedIn groups
One of the many benefits that LinkedIn has to offer is the opportunity to build a virtual network of contacts, and a great way to do that is by joining relevant LinkedIn groups. Indeed, you’ll be able to meet like-minded professionals who could connect you to people at the company you’re targeting. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to learn about potential employers’ hiring process (including questions they typically ask in interviews), providing you an edge over the competition.
Make sure that the groups that you join are directly relevant to your industry — after all, joining a group for graphic designers when you’re an accountant, for example, will provide little value to your overall LinkedIn job search. Equally important is to join groups that have recent and regular activity; otherwise, you could be wasting your time.
7. Keep adding new connections
Remember: you want to be an active user on LinkedIn, and this includes building a network of contacts. Generally speaking, you should have at least 50 connections, but — of course — the more the merrier.
That said, don’t just add about everyone and anyone to your network — unless you have similar interests or they work for a company you want to work for. For example, you should avoid adding connections that can’t add any real value to your LinkedIn job search. You also want to make sure that it goes two ways: a mutually beneficial relationship will increase your chances of job search success.
One last piece of advice is, when it comes to using LinkedIn to find a job, complete your profile in as much detail as possible. Unlike your résumé, where you’re generally restricted to presenting your background in two pages, you can — and should — be descriptive when showcasing your experience, skills and qualifications. Whatever you do, though, never leave your profile blank!
To sum up, here’s how to maximize your LinkedIn job search:
- Follow the companies you’re interested in working for.
- Be an active user by sharing updates and interacting with others’ posts.
- Add a professional photo.
- Join LinkedIn groups and keep adding new connections.
- Get endorsed for your skills.
Got a question? Let us know in the comments section below.
Originally published on September 29, 2017.