Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 LinkedIn Tips: Avoid Job Search Mistakes

Kristin Burnham

Job hunting can be a frustrating and tedious process, especially if your efforts aren't getting you anywhere. More often than not, you could be guilty of falling into one or more common job search traps, said Lindsey Pollak, career expert and LinkedIn ambassador.
"Even if you think you're doing all the right things, some people don't understand the rules of job hunting," she said in an interview. "Job hunting itself is its own skill, and it has its own set of rules that you need to abide by."
Here's a look at five common mistakes, plus tips for avoiding them.

1. Shallow Company Knowledge
Everyone knows that having background knowledge on the company you're applying to is important, especially in the interview process. What many people don't consider is the type of information you need to brush up on.
Be aware of any mentions of the company in the news -- both good and bad -- in addition to significant management changes and what its latest earnings report was like. You should also be informed on what you would be working on in the job you're applying for and what's most important about it, Pollak said. Aim to brush up on what's new in the industry, too, she said.
LinkedIn can help with much of this. Follow the business' company page for the latest information on personnel changes and important news. This can provide you with ideas for specific questions to ask during the interview process, Pollak said. You can also use LinkedIn Groups to find a community based on the industry you're interested in to keep up-to-date on what people are talking about.
2. A Static Network Of Peers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of jobs are found through networking. If it's been a while since you connected with those in your network, now is a good time to drop them a note, Pollak said.
Start by identifying your connections who are most active on LinkedIn, she recommended. You can find them by browsing who has appeared in your activity stream and contributed to Group conversations. "Treat it like you would people at a conference. You want to focus on and connect with the people who are there, not the ones who didn't show up," she said.
To reengage with people you have lost touch with, send a note of congratulations if someone has changed jobs, for example. Or, consider commenting or liking a story a connection has posted. Pollak said that these interactions can lead to a conversation, which can lead to an opportunity.
If you want to take a more direct approach to reconnecting with someone, Pollak recommended contacting them directly through a personal message. Below is an example of an appropriate message that shows you have done your homework and are genuinely interested in knowing that person again.
Hi Susan,
I came across your LinkedIn profile in the Intel alumni group and wanted to get back in touch. It's terrific to see that you've launched your own consulting business! I remember that was a goal of yours. As for me, I'm still working in software sales and am looking to make a transition back to the East Coast. I'd love to reconnect, catch up and perhaps see if we might assist each other. Would you like to chat by phone sometime in the next few weeks?
Thanks and all the best,

3. Your Profile Is Wordy
Your LinkedIn profile should not be a place to showcase your extensive vocabulary, Pollack said. Keep your language simple because people won't search for "passionate and clever wordsmith," they'll search for "writer."
"This one is an absolute science. Go to the job listing you're interested in and look at the words they have used, then use those same words in your profile," Pollak said. "You certainly don't want to plagiarize the paragraph, but use your common sense to identify what's important, then make sure those words are in your profile."
To test whether you're attracting the right people to your profile, look at the "Who's Viewed Your Profile" statistics, she recommended. In particular, check the listing of keywords that people used to arrive at your profile. If you don't like what you see, adjust the way you describe yourself, she said.

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