Monday, November 21, 2011
Lessons from a LinkedIn Job Search
The author is a graduate student in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.
I consider myself a tech-savvy fellow. I’m (relatively) young, I have worked in the media, and I have been studying all kinds of digital marketing for the last year or so. However, as I finish up my master’s degree, I realize that I haven’t always marketed myself online in the way I have learned to market a product.
This is the first time I have conducted a job search in a world dominated by social media. I have maintained a LinkedIn profile for several years, but I haven’t been taking advantage of its power as a job hunting tool. I set out to change this, and over the last few months, I have learned a few useful tidbits that could help you improve your professional presence online:
1. Your LinkedIn network is bigger than you think—use it! I have been stunned to find that I am somehow connected to nearly every company I am interested in working for. Friends of friends can be very powerful, and requests to talk can lead to bigger things. Yes, some people will ignore your messages, but who cares? It doesn’t hurt to try.
2. Be active. An easy way to keep yourself visible on LinkedIn is to make regular profile updates. Every time you change something, your smiling face pops up at the top of your friends’ update feeds. I tend to get more profile views when I do this.
3. Find a Connector. Someone you know knows everybody. I mean everybody. Figure out who this person is, and put him or her to work for you. I found one of these people recently, and it has made an enormous difference in my search.
4. Brand Yourself. It helps to have something meaningful to say about yourself when you make a new connection. Develop a narrative that explains the career decisions you’ve made. What do you care about? How have you grown in each position? Why did you go back to school? Use your profile to tell a story about yourself. This lets people know you’re a thoughtful person who actually cares about something.
5. Paying for LinkedIn might actually be worth it. Upgrading to a Premium or Job Seeker account is good idea for several reasons. Firstly, you can see the full list of people who have visited your profile. Besides satisfying your curiosity about those who are spying on you, this lets you follow up with people who may be looking around for good job candidates. Secondly, it will move you to the top of relevant searches, increasing the odds that these people will find you in the first place. Thirdly, you can send an Inmail to anyone on LinkedIn, whether connected or not. I haven’t had a lot of luck getting responses with these yet, but I have definitely seen a rise in profile views since I upgraded.
All of these things can help to boost your image, even if you’re not looking for a job. Professionals use LinkedIn to check out colleagues, clients, and anyone else they might run into. You never know when your profile could be making a first impression. I have discovered that a few simple steps can make a big difference. I have been able to get my foot in the door at a number of great companies through LinkedIn, and this has made the dreaded job search a whole lot easier.
Mike Severson | Medill