LinkedIn for Job Seekers 101 [article]
Disclaimer: What’s written here is not a professional, but exclusively personal opinion on utilizing LinkedIn as a job search tool. The organization with which the author is currently affiliated cannot and will not be held responsible for any misinterpretation of the following text and any consecutive actions undertaken by the job seekers.
LinkedIn is an integral instrument in my work. I spend 8 hours on it every day, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do as effectively as I do it without LinkedIn. I believe that everyone who is taking networking and his job search seriously must capitalize on it.
I am putting this article together right now, amidst the COVID-19 crisis, as today all the actions that you take online are more crucial than ever. I hope that in the retrospective I will be coming back here with a smile when it is all over.
For those who prefer consuming content in a video format, I have also recorded a video tutorial. However, I still suggest reading through the article since I tried to keep the video short and there were some things that I had to skip.
In this article, we will be looking at several LinkedIn strategies. Here is the list of the things that you can do:
- Polish your profile
- Approach recruiters
- Approach the employers directly
- Research the company
- Find HR (work with a workforce specialist/job developer)
- Network. A strategy for building warm relationships
- Follow the right people
- Build your personal brand.
The most important skill of a job seeker is the ability to be self-educate. In order to maximize the functionality and potential of your LinkedIn profile, you will have to invest some time and bring your profile as close to perfection as possible.
Consider your LinkedIn profile as a landing page of your personal shop where you sell one and the most important product — yourself.
Put the best professional picture you can get. You would be very surprised (and maybe unpleasantly) of how much judgment is made just from the appearance of the person. First impressions matter.
When it comes to the Headline and About section, google “how to write headline/about section on LinkedIn”, check best practices, introduce modifications, and come up with your own creative wording. Make it “you”.
Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is consistent with your resume especially in terms of dates. The first thing that the employer will do is to Google your name and hence discover your LinkedIn profile. It won’t speak in your favor if something seems “off”.
If you are a newcomer to Canada, you probably know that you have to provide the verification of your international academic qualifications. One of the most popular organizations that provide such verification is WES. In fall 2019 they have introduced a new feature — adding a virtual credential (badge) that can be added on your LinkedIn profile.
Don’t forget to mention your volunteer experience if you have one. it is always a good idea to show that you’re giving back to your community. Good employers appreciate that.
As you progress in your career make sure that you collect recommendations from the people you work with. Let others speak for you.
Lastly, don’t be shy when it comes to the Accomplishment section. Put things that would speak for your skills and aspirations.
Now, the first way how you can use Linkedin is to let everyone out there know that you are job searching.
Start connecting with recruiters but in order to utilize them effectively, you must think like a recruiter.
Recruiters make money from the commission and that is why their work focuses on the so-called “cream of the candidates”.
Do not get discouraged when you submit a resume and a recruiter says he will get back to you and he never does. If you don’t make it to the top 5% of contenders in the recruiter’s eyes he wouldn’t waste his time.
“Sorry. But not sorry.” This is how the world of work operates. No time to waste in the world of recruitment, it is just business and no hard feelings.
Consider recruiters just another stream of opportunities. Type “recruiters” and your city name and send requests to connect.
Present yourself, say what kind of positions are you looking for, and all that jazz. If it pans out it pans out. If not, it is not a big deal.
Approach the employer directly
The world of work is changing. The job market is becoming more and more approachable and accessible. All parties that participate in the hiring process (Talent Acquisition Specialists, Human Resource Professionals, Internal Recruiters, and Executive Officers) are online and they signal to potential candidates that they are hiring and open for applications.
“We’re hiring!” You will see in their status inviting you to send applications. Some of them have their work emails in the Contact Info section.
Knock doors, and some will open.
Research the company.
Do your research on the specific company where you want to work. You will find a lot of information on their LinkedIn page (almost all established companies have one).
- You will be able to see what kind of people are working there. Checking their profiles and their credentials will give you an idea and what kind of background the employer is looking for in a successful candidate.
- Checking employees’ posts will give you an idea about such things as the culture of the company, diversity, inclusion, and their level of satisfaction with the company.
- Titles, profile pictures, size of the company (number of employees) will again give you an insight into the culture and the internal organization of the company.
- You can learn about the chain of command who are engaged in the hiring process.
- But most importantly LinkedIn allows you to find people who work in the position you plan to secure. And that is the most important piece of information for 2 reasons. First, you can use this information in order to help the workforce specialist/job developer who is assisting you in your job search activities. Secondly, you will use it primarily for yourself, for the most important strategy of all — networking.
Networking on LinkedIn
Before I share the networking strategy that you could use, let’s understand why it is important to network.
Why networking is crucial to effective job search.
In Canada (and I believe everywhere else) we use the terms “visible job market” and “hidden job market”
Visible Job Market. The name speaks for itself. These are the jobs that are being advertised online. Indeed, LinkedIn, Job Bank — all these resources.
When you are applying for jobs online you are competing with 99% of people who also access these jobs. It is an easy thing to sit at home and click on the website and that is why the competition is so fierce.
Now another approach is what we call tapping into a hidden job market — and that approach involves building warm relationships with people. This is a much slower process that involves a significant investment of time and effort, but that is exactly the reason why on this path you will face much less competition.
And for that approach, LinkedIn comes in handy.
The strategy itself is very straightforward.
Start sending invitations to connect and ask for an informational interview/coffee meeting.
Never ask for a job. This is a very rude thing to do.
Instead, say something along these lines:
“Hi. My name is _____. I’m currently transitioning between jobs. I am doing my research on your company and the position you’re working at. I was wondering if we could connect and I could ask you a couple of questions. Thank you. Respectfully yours,”
You will knock ten doors one will open. You will knock a hundred, who knows how many people will reply offering the gift of their time and attention?
Who to approach?
Separate all people you can approach into imaginary three tiers:
- Junior positions. These people are too junior to have any influence inside the company. Most likely they won’t be of help.
- Senior positions. Also, a lower probability to get a reply. They are too busy to answer questions from candidates.
- Your peers. Connecting with people who work in the position you would like to secure is the best approach. Most of them know your struggle, and many of them will be more than willing to help you.
Even though the probability of getting help from these three levels varies, I normally suggest approaching everyone.
You never know where the job will come from.
Sending out resumes must remain your primary strategy in securing employment, however as with money, you better diversify your investments, and in case of job search, you must diversify the investment of your attention.
Why you should network even when you are employed
Networking is not just about who you know. It is about who knows you.
You should network even when you are employed. If 💩 happens (and 💩 has indeed an unpleasant tendency to happen) your network will be your safety net that will catch you when you fall.
Sadly, the reality is that people are losing jobs in a blink of an eye.
- One of my clients lost a job “for financial reasons”. He was laid off along with 5 other people. 10 minutes conversation that is all it took.
- Another client was working happily for 3 years. The place where he worked burned down in one night.
- One more client was laid off due to “restructuring” of the company. She worked there for 9 years.
- I have a similar experience as I was laid off previously too. The big boss came to the company and said that the management is wasting resources “the work that is done by 2 can be done by 1”. The decision was made in one day.
These are just a few examples, but I’m sure they clearly illustrate the point:
It is better to be safe than sorry.
Follow the right people.
There are plenty of people on LinkedIn who give away a lot of information for free.
You can get advice on resume preparation, cover letter writing, interview skills, and tons of other valuable stuff.
Here are some fierce content-champions and beautiful human beings:
Opportunities will always be coming from those who have come to the realization that selfless service is the most effective way to make a difference.
Build your personal brand.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed us all online. We are transitioning into an economy in which personal branding is a skill (and a very important skill).
Letting other people know that you are capable of doing something is almost as important as being capable of doing it.
Follow Fanny Dunagan. She is the best there is. For those who still doubt she has all the answers to your FAQ about personal branding.
Why should I create content?
What should I post?
What content should I create as a job seeker?
Fanny Dunagan is brilliantly explaining how personal branding can be your number one tool to stand in the job market with your expertise.
To summarize the video, you can get all your content ideas from the job description for the position you are planning to secure. Translate a particular requirement mentioned in a JD into a topic for an article. Show your expertise in architecture, marketing, business development.
Even if you just engage with the posts of other people, comment and repost their content, and post a couple of smart quotes once in a while, you are already in the top 10% above all those who are just lurking around.
Content is the king
With a continuous transition of the world of work online, there is a new tendency of posting video resumes on LinkedIn.
Here is a brilliant example of a video-resume. 👉 Example.
You can see how much engagement is on the video. People love creativity.
You can tag a specific person in a comment to your video resume. Your invitation to connect might have been ignored but there is a high chance your post will attract the desired attention. Trust me, sometimes a resume travels in mysterious ways.
Overall your job search must be built around 2 main strategies:
- Direct applications
LinkedIn is an integral tool that can amplify them both.