Ever feel like LinkedIn is this mysterious void, you’re confused and don’t know where to start – but feel like everyone else is on here and maybe I should be, too? You are not alone, my friend. LinkedIn is huge, but hasn’t always been that way. It’s organically grown into a mammoth of a professional site, yet still is untapped by so many who are on the site. The potential to start advancing your career with LinkedIn is huge, and we’ll talk about five ways to start using LinkedIn to get ahead.
#1: Search Jobs
Many companies now have their own pages on LinkedIn that they use to advertise the company and post job openings. LinkedIn also refreshes the “Jobs” tab (at the top), so you can search for jobs, save your searches, and set up job alerts – letting the algorithms do the work. There is even an advanced job search feature with various filters. Just click the “Search” box under the “Jobs” tab and you’ll see the filters at the top – select “All Filters” and you’ll see even more options.
You don’t have to wait to see job postings to hear what’s going on in your industry. A good practice is to follow universally recognized thought leaders, industry movers and shakers, and companies directly. Simply click the “Follow” button on their profile page for the news to show up in your feed.
#2: Get Found by Recruiters
Recruiters have a paid feature within LinkedIn that allows for advanced searches and the ability to find candidate profiles through keywords and other criteria. In other words, you can be scouted on LinkedIn – but, first you need to be visible. Ensure that your profile is complete with a good picture, tagline, as well as appropriate sections and security settings.
Set your profile to visible under “Settings & Privacy.” This way, everyone can see your name, picture, etc. Otherwise, only contacts or second-degree contacts can see that info. Additionally, turn your profile ‘on’ to indicate you are open to being contacted. Do this by viewing your profile and, under your “Dashboard,” it’s an option with “Career Interests.” Here you can also set preferences for your job search and industry type. Keywords are important to being found on LinkedIn, so make sure that they are words and phrases that are relevant to your role/industry and scatter them throughout your profile.
#3: Research Tool
LinkedIn has a wealth of information for those willing to find it. From company info to ideas to get promoted and interview prep tidbits – it just takes a little time.
Prepping for interviews – use LinkedIn to look up your interviewers (and their colleagues) to learn about them professionally. Get info on their career paths, alma maters, and/or interests outside of work (i.e. volunteering). This makes it easier to find commonalities and see your interviewers as people, and in turn allows you to more easily and confidently build a friendly, dynamic rapport when you walk in.
As you’re planning for future roles and careers, use LinkedIn to search for your desired job titles and view the profiles of people who currently have that position. This will give you a good idea of what qualifications, skills, and/or certifications you need to reach that level.
#4: Expand Your Network
The original purpose LinkedIn was created for – making and building professional connections. But, it doesn’t just need to be people you know or have just met. Think of LinkedIn like a big networking reception with the ability to meet so many people you wouldn’t have otherwise. Look at your existing connections to find new people who would be valuable to add to your network, for either current or future career endeavors. Use the “Find Alumni” tool to connect with those you already have one thing in common with. Find it by going to the page for your university/college and clicking the blue “See Alumni” button.
And, don’t forget to connect with people you just met, even if through an interview. You never know – you may not get that job, but if you make a positive impression and take the effort to stay in touch, you will be on their radar for future needs.
#5: Build Your Credibility
LinkedIn recently revamped their groups feature and they are available for almost every profession and skill set. They are a great way to meet others in your industry (or desired industry/ies), get expert advice, and share your knowledge, as well as stay up-to-date with industry news. All of this helps you build your professional credibility and image as an expert, or at the very least, as an emerging expert in your field. You can search groups with the search box, or get ideas of good ones to join from viewing profiles of industry leaders.
Another way to build your credibility is to ask current and former colleagues to write a personal recommendation on your behalf, which appears on your profile. Scroll down towards the bottom of your profile and you’ll see in the “Recommendations” sections and place to “Ask for a Recommendation.” You’ll be prompted through the process. This is one of the most powerful and effective ways to instantly build your credibility – other professionals are publicly backing up the claims you make. Coupled with your attractive profile, connections, and other parts of your profile, this helps to create your personal brand on the professional world.