As career coaches, one of the most common questions we get asked is, "Should I be using LinkedIn for job search?" In a nutshell – absolutely yes! LinkedIn is the number one social media platform where you can be actively found and engage with potential interviewers to land that next job. As the recruitment landscape evolves and the way in which candidate selection develops online, recruiters value LinkedIn more and more when recruiting.
But like any system or tool, it depends on how you use it.
how LinkedIn can benefit your job search
LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful tool. It is, after all, the world’s largest professional social network site. There are over 720m LinkedIn members globally, making it the world’s largest job board. Let us not forget LinkedIn initially started its life as a job board, evolving to become a £26m social media platform and Microsoft acquisition.
Your LinkedIn profile without doubt, can be as useful and as influential as your CV in landing a job and the best way to create a professional online presence. An optimised LinkedIn profile can also jet propel your professional online presence, so it easily hits the first page of any Google search results.
There are many ways you can use LinkedIn to boost your job search. It can enhance your online presence, let you perform job research, market intelligence and insight, job searches, networking, raising your profile, placing yourself in the core of your target markets and being found by hiring managers, recruiters and network contacts who are looking for you.
Swim in the same pool as hirers are fishing in. get noticed.
Employers are looking for you. Recruiters are looking for you. Former colleagues are wanting to connect with you. Hirers are all over LinkedIn filling jobs right now - you need to get on their radar. Build and continually expand your network so your profile gets noticed by an expanding network and convert strangers to potential hirers.
The recruitment landscape is evolving. Long gone are the days when you send out your CV and pray. Now, more than ever you can take back control of your job search, manage your own campaign and set more hares running. And LinkedIn can play such an integral part in that.
Your LinkedIn profile allows you to demonstrate your expertise, knowledge and brand authentically and in real time, building credibility and trust in your marketplace. It also allows you to publicly associate and link to organisations and people, drawing and attracting interest to you LinkedIn profile, allowing you to build and refresh your professional network beyond you immediate reach. Essentially, it allows you to be in the same space as Hiring Managers/Recruiters, but also in the same space as your competition. In any recruitment process you are always competing against others for a job.
stranger to hirer funnel (converting strangers to hirers)
> activity > get noticed > deliver key messages > engagement > build and nurture
There are so many ways you can use LinkedIn: post, like, share, comment, view profiles, publish an article, endorse others, give recommendations, join groups, follow companies; be active and raise your profile in the core of the community where you want to get noticed. And search for jobs.
Drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile through engagement with strangers, potential hirers, recruiters and former colleagues. Build your network with great quality contacts. Use hashtags. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is fully optimised, use keywords and skills, so those looking for you can find you. Ensure you have a professional photo displayed and a banner image which is consistent with your personal brand. Comment on other people’s posts so you get noticed by a new crowd. Get noticed by your network’s network... and beyond.
deliver key messages
Does your headline statement outline your current career situation and are your areas of expertise clearly defined? Remember, you are talking to potential hirers directly who could be looking to fill your ideal job. Ensure your personal brand best represents you and it delivers essential key messages to hiring managers. The right job opportunities for you are out there - leverage LinkedIn to help you find them and let the right job find you.
Engage with others through newsfeed activity, sending messages/InMails/connection requests. Respond to any engagement or interest from others, such as recommendations, endorsements, views of your profile or responding to a comment you have made. Turn one-way engagement into two-way conversation. It is a 'social' network - so be sociable.
build and nurture
Develop and nurture conversations and relationships so you become credible and remembered for your expertise and knowledge. Publish articles, post more frequently in groups. Demonstrate knowledge by commenting in public places. Take conversations off LinkedIn and build relationships on a more one-to-one basis.
hiring due diligence
In this digital world we now operate in, access to information is everywhere. In the same way you would investigate any potential employer or interviewer online, you can guarantee that they will be checking you out too. And LinkedIn is the first place they will visit to view your professional profile. An inappropriate photo or a blank profile doesn't look good. A key red flag here is discrepancies between your CV and your profile, so be sure your CV and LinkedIn profile are consistent. Remember your personal branding material should always answer questions – not create questions.
Your professional profile can certainly add value to your personal brand and at the same time, it can offer you a real competitive advantage, particularly in a crowded market.
your Linkedin profile checklist
When you start to use LinkedIn for the first time, it will guide you through the profile creation process, but don't rush or just stick with the default settings. If you want to maximise your chances of getting the right jobs coming to you when recruiters conduct a search, make sure you've covered these elements of your profile:
- Add a professional banner image at the top - never leave the default blue. You can use any photo, it doesn't have to be purely business-related
- Add a good headshot photo - express your personality, but nothing too quirky or wacky
- Use a headline that describes the job you want and your top skills (think what recruiters would search for and use those terms)
- Make yourself contactable - add some contact details and complete the 'Advice for Contacting [Name] section'. Don't make it hard for recruiters with suitable jobs to reach you.
- Summary - expand upon your headline with a few brief paragraphs about your areas of expertise. This can also be a good place to account for any gaps in your work history - explain how you've kept your skills fresh, done some volunteering or undertaken some form of learning
- Add detailed descriptions of your jobs and quantifiable accomplishments in the Experience section. If it's not clear what a previous employer does, add a one-sentence description
- Skills & Endorsements - you can add up to 50 skills and ask your contacts to endorse you for them. You can also select which are the top three skills that appear in this section, so choose the ones that are most sought after for your ideal role
- Get some recommendations. Ask former colleagues, clients and other professional contacts. Most will be happy to help. When you ask, it's OK to outline the skills you would like them to highlight in their recommendation. Alternatively, write some recommendations for others and ask them to reciprocate
- Add Accomplishments - especially if these are important to your professional brand - such as publications, projects, honours and awards or languages. These can really help your profile stand out
- Join some relevant groups - it allows other group members to contact you using the Group Messaging feature
- Customise your profile URL - don't leave the default, choose a shorter, more professional one
I have a Linkedin profile, it looks great, now what?
Ok, so you have created a profile on LinkedIn, it oozes credibility, has a professional photo, delivers important messages to your hiring audience and screams ‘hire me – I’m brilliant’. Great start. But without a network and no activity – what is the point if your profile just does not get noticed? This is why engagement counts and activity makes a difference; creating your own posts, shares, likes and commenting on other people's posts. You can't just post a profile with a nice photo and expect recruiters to come to you with jobs. You have to use LinkedIn. Remember, this is social media - activity raises your profile and gets you noticed. Drive traffic to your profile through activity.
when should I post?
Think about when your audience is most likely be in front of their screens; typically early morning, lunch time or later in the afternoon, less so at the weekends. Remember, when you post you are looking for an instant reaction; the more people that like, share and comment on your post the more likely the LinkedIn algorithms will push your post out further to a wider crowd.
The first hour after posting is crucial and the more engagement you can activate on your post, the wider the reach. Asking a question or discussing a topical issue can help to stir up interest and stimulate discussion, which then offers you the opportunity to further engage and demonstrate your expertise on the subject.
should I upgrade?
This is the million-dollar question. Again, it depends on what you want from LinkedIn.
If you are using LinkedIn as an engagement tool and only ever anticipate following chat on the newsfeed, commenting, sharing and liking then it is probably not necessarily worth the premium fee. However, for a monthly fee, there are additional premium features to utilise, that can be really helpful during your job search.
For job-related activity there are some useful benefits with Premium Career, like who's viewed your profile, job insights, an allowance of InMails (like email for contacting people you're not directly connected with), Resume Builder, Open Profile (which allows people who aren't in your network to contact you without having to pay for InMail) and LinkedIn Learning - which can be particularly valuable for keeping your skills up-to-date.
There are different types of premium packages, depending on what your agenda is, but the Careers package starts around £25 for a monthly fee, which you can switch off when no longer needed once you've landed a new job; there is no long-term obligation in that respect.
There are some great deals around currently, where you can secure a premium upgrade for free, for the first month or in some instances, upgrade for 50% of the monthly fee.
what is stopping you from using LinkedIn?
Listen to your inner dialogue and figure out want is preventing you from helping yourself and adding a valuable tool to your job search tool kit. A LinkedIn profile is like having your CV on display all the time. More often than not, the number one preventer is simply just not knowing what buttons to press, or not understanding its value or how it can help secure your next job or career move. These simple reasons can easily be overcome. Little steps.
51% of millionaires are active on LinkedIn – if it is good enough for them – it is good enough for you, right?!
Job Search Strategist and Career Transition Coach