Being as passionate as I am about social media’s ever-growing role in the career search process, I proudly thank LinkedIn, one of my favorite social media networking tools, for helping me obtain my current position.
How I Found My Job on LinkedIn
In my career search last year, I felt that I had reached a dead-end, having attended a major career fair, applied for countless positions online, and seemingly exhausted my MBA alumni network without any success.
I was on LinkedIn at that point, but hadn’t taken it too seriously. Feeling that I had nothing to lose, I spent some time searching Google and reading various LinkedIn job search success stories and started applying some of what I learned to my own efforts.
First, I followed LinkedIn’s steps to complete my profile 100%, adding a professional headshot, all of my relevant work experience and a personal brand summary. I went beyond LinkedIn’s suggested 3 recommendations and requested as many recommendations as possible from classmates, professors and previous colleagues. I joined a number of LinkedIn networking groups, including both those related to the job search, as well as those related to my industry, in order to open the doors to a greater network. I then identified companies of interest within my chosen industry using LinkedIn’s Companies feature. By doing this, I came across both my employer and some of its employees listed in its company profile. While none of them then were first, second or third degree contacts, because I had joined several LinkedIn groups, one of the employees had a “Group Member” icon next to his name meaning that we were members of the same networking group. It turned out that sharing a group gave me access to send him a message. I did just that and requested 15-20 minutes of his time for an informational interview to discuss the company and his career path. He generously agreed, and at the end of our call, he offered to share my resume internally. This resulted in an invitation to interview with the company and, later, the offer for my current position.
How You Can Find Your Job on LinkedIn
1) Complete Your Profile 100% – Not only does completing your profile 100% help you rise higher in LinkedIn People searches, but it also makes you look more professional. First impressions matter, and your LinkedIn profile may be the first impression you make on a potential employer or career contact.
2) Get Recommended – Request as many recommendations as is appropriate from your colleagues, classmates, professors, partners or clients. They don’t have to be long like traditional recommendations; they just need to be genuine and supportive of your personal brand.
3) Build Your Network – Make sure to connect with all of your current and previous contacts. You may also choose to get involved in open networking, which involves connecting with both those professionals you know and those you don’t. Also, join relevant LinkedIn groups, including alumni groups, industry-specific groups, interest groups and more. These efforts will increase the size of your network, but may also allow you to message more contacts regarding potential opportunities.
4) Get Active – Start being active and contributing value from Day 1. Share interesting news with your network via status updates, post links to intriguing articles and join in discussions in your groups, offer insightful answers to questions on LinkedIn’s Answers forum, add your blog feed or share your recommended reading list with profile applications. This will increase your visibility on LinkedIn and will help you share and enhance your personal brand in front of your network.
5) Search Jobs – Don’t forget that LinkedIn has its own job board of listings you can browse. Many of the opportunities list the individual and/or company that posted them. This makes it easier to apply for positions and simultaneously identify the appropriate contacts with whom to follow up and network. Also check the discussion and job boards on the groups you are in, as many opportunities are posted there by fellow group members.
6) Follow Company Activity – You can now choose to follow the activities of specific companies by visiting their profiles and clicking the “Follow Company” link. This can be a great research tool to help you stay on top of recent news, job listings, new hires and more.
Taking the above steps on LinkedIn can substantially improve your prospects for finding potential job opportunities and career contacts. However, it is important to keep in mind that no amount of social media engagement can replace the traditional avenues for finding a job. At the same time that you are optimizing your LinkedIn profile, you should be updating your resume, tailoring your cover letter to specific positions, requesting informational interviews, attending networking events and meeting new contacts and seeking unique online and offline ways to promote your personal brand.
So many job seekers assume that social media will be a magic solution and forget to maintain or use the other skills necessary to effectively pursue an opportunity. From my own experience, you can see that I used LinkedIn as both a personal branding and networking tool to impress and get connected with the right contact within my target company. However, once connected, I leveraged my interview skills in both my initial informational interview and then my official in-person interview to help seal the deal.
Do you have a story of how you leveraged both social media and the more traditional job search strategies to secure a new opportunity? Please share yours with us.
Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.