I have a LinkedIn account, but how can I use it effectively?

Did you know that 93% of recruiters who use social media to recruit use LinkedIn? In fact, of recruiters who use social media, a full 48% use LinkedIn EXCLUSIVELY.  In the new age of social media it has become paramount that you craft a web presence and do it thoughtfully. When beginning your job or career search if you don’t have a well-written LinkedIn and an understanding of how to use it, you will be left behind. What follows will be 5 points of interest concerning your LinkedIn profile that will help you get you started.

1. Add your LinkedIn profile to your resume.

The first key in adding your LinkedIn profile to your resume is to create a custom profile URL. The typical URL that is assigned by LinkedIn is just a random collection of letters and numbers, which makes it less likely the employer will find you and you will appear less professional. A custom URL should be something short, easy to remember and professional. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use your name as your URL.

2. How to Request Connections – Especially after Expo!!

LinkedIn is a great way to network with professionals in the field you are hoping to have a career in and a wonderful way to gather information. Before you go requesting at random, however, you must think about how you request your connections. The first thing you want to do is personalize your request. If you just met the person at Expo, you can use that space to remind them of your meeting, possibly find some common ground, and explain why you want to connect.  Do not use this space to request a job! If you met the person at Expo, then they are already aware of your intentions and if you didn’t then it comes across as desperate to start asking about jobs right away. Being genuinely interested in the person you are trying to connect with and have a real desire to learn from them is the best way to approach new connections.

3. Follow an Organization

Another important aspect of using LinkedIn is to use it as a way to connect with the industries and companies you are interested in working. Many different companies have pages on LinkedIn and you can choose to follow an organization. By following an organization you will get some great information about what the company is doing currently and it will give you the inside scoop on things to talk about when trying to form connections to people who work there, putting together a cover letter, or even going to interview. The best part is that many organizations will actually post their openings on their organization page. You can also use their career information as a way to discover what skills you might want to improve in the future.

4. Keep your profile updated

LinkedIn is different from a resume, because it places a larger emphasis on what you are doing currently. It is important that others on LinkedIn can see what you are studying, where you are working, the volunteerism you are connected with, and the things you are achieving RIGHT NOW. It is also crucial to have an updated, professional picture of yourself or run the risk of possible employers not even looking at your profile. Using LinkedIn to share important articles that you are reading can be important in showing that you are interesting, involved, and passionate.

5. Build relationships and grow your network

It is important to remember that while LinkedIn is a great tool for finding a job, one of the main functions of LinkedIn is to improve your networking skills and help you form new connections. Constantly bugging people for jobs will put them off and ultimately not help you. Instead, focus your energies on cultivating new relationships with people. As your network grows and you form bonds with new people it will become easier to find job openings and get inside information to places that may be hiring. Having a real dialogue with others on LinkedIn can help give you the inside scoop on what kind of skills you may need or even opportunities to grow that will make you a better candidate in the future.

It is important to remember that LinkedIn is not a job board like Indeed.com or even Mavjobs. LinkedIn is where professionals go to network with one another and grow as professionals. Networking is an extremely important part of finding a job or a career and it requires more time and a different mindset. So, to utilize LinkedIn more effectively you must remember that not every connection will land you a job. Sometimes, just having a meaningful dialogue with someone can improve your chances in the future of finding a good career. These are all human beings and if you take time to learn from them and maybe even help them, your network will continue to grow and you will be amazed at how much opportunity will come your way.

(Information adapted from bullhornreach.com’s 2012 Social Recruiting Activity Report and jobvite.com’s 2012 Social Recruiting Survey)

– Joshua Foss, Graduate Assistant, Career Development Center

Josh Foss

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