Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ten Ways To Use LinkedIn In Your Job Search

Liz Ryan

LinkedIn is an insanely useful tool for every working person, not to mention every job-seeker and student. The only unfortunate thing about LinkedIn as a job search tool is that most of what’s powerful about LinkedIn as a job-search tool is not obvious to the casual LinkedIn user.

If the only thing you’re doing on LinkedIn is updating your profile every now and then and waiting for the headhunters and recruiting managers to reach out, you’re missing the boat.

LinkedIn is a massive database, and within its gazillions of records are critical elements in your job-search plan and strategy. Let’s say that you heard about a growing company in your city and wondered whether they might need someone like you.

Before LinkedIn, you would have had to call or write to the company, search your contacts to see if any of your friends might know someone who works there, or call the front desk and ask for HR. Those are all slow, cumbersome and less-than-highly-effective research methods.

Your LinkedIn membership eliminates the need for that kind of tedious legwork.Let’s call our imaginary company Angry Chocolates. You’re a Marketing guy, Manager level, and you’re curious whether Angry Chocolates might be able to use a guy like you. You hop on LinkedIn and conduct a search on Angry Chocolates to see how folks in your network are connected to the company. Hurrah!

You don’t know anybody who actually works there, but one of your first-degree contacts did a consulting project for Angry Chocolates and another two first-degree homies have friends who work there. You’re already way ahead of the networking-into-your-next-job game!

Now you check out the Angry Chocolates leadership team via their own LinkedIn profiles. What do you find? One of them went to your undergraduate alma mater. That means that the Alumni Office can put you in touch with him, if you didn’t feel comfortable reaching out yourself. (And why shouldn’t you? Alumni connections are one of the pillars of networking.) One of the executives at Angry is on the Board of Directors of a not-for-profit where your fiancee’s mom is a staff member.

Do you remember those see-through models of people, about a foot high, made of plastic parts that fit together and come apart to show kids how the human skeleton fits into the nervous system and the organs? LinkedIn makes your network visible the same way those anatomic models make human anatomy visible.

Using LinkedIn, you can see who your friends know, where people have been and what they’re interested in, what people are talking about and who’s gone from Company to Company B. If you’re paying attention, LinkedIn can absorb at least thirty percent of your job-search-related research load. LinkedIn can save you hours that you used to have to spend at the library or on some corporate database, researching who’s who and who’s where. It’s a new day! LinkedIn is a job-seeker’s best friend.

Here are ten ways to use LinkedIn in your job search:

1) Make Your Headline Count

Your LinkedIn headline (just below your name) is your online brand, because your name and your headline are the only things a LinkedIn user will see when s/he conducts a search on the LinkedIn database and your profile comes up as one of the search returns. Your headline, your name and your profile photo are the only cues that user will get before deciding whether or not to click through your headline to your full profile. Make your headline count!

“Marketer seeking next opportunity” is weak, but “Consumer Products Marketer Looking for Small Brand to Make Big” tells your next boss what you plan to deliver.

6) Find Your Hiring Manager
If you want to avoid the Black Hole of Death recruiting portals, you’ve got to know who your hiring manager is in any organization you’re targeting. It’s easy to find your hiring manager in all but the most enormous and bureaucratic organizations, where half the people walking around are called Program Manager, Project Manager or Director of Special Projects.

To find your hiring manager on LinkedIn, just use the Advanced People Search feature (click on the word Advanced next to the search bar at the top of the page) with your target company name filled in and the most likely title for your hiring manager as a second search term.

If you’re a Marketing person, your hiring manager could be Angry Chocolates’ Marketing Director or Marketing VP, for instance.  Once you’ve got your hiring manager’s name, you can send him or her a paper Pain Letter via snail mail with your Human-Voiced Resume and avoid the Black Hole part of the process altogether!

Read all 10 ways and the complete Forbes article

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