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Ask Donna: Does LinkedIn really matter for my job search?

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Dear Donna:

I’ve been looking for a job for several months and haven’t gotten much traction. A friend suggested that maybe I need to improve my LinkedIn profile. Right now, I have my work history on it but that is about it. I have never gotten any response to my LinkedIn profile before. It just seems like another thing to manage when I’m busy enough already just applying to jobs.

Does LinkedIn really matter that much for my job search?

Thanks,

Way Too Busy

 

Dear Busy:

I hate to tell you this, but your friend is right. LinkedIn is the new standard that many employers rely on when sourcing new candidates. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • There are over 500 million users on LinkedIn.
  • It is estimated that one in every four professionals on the planet are on LinkedIn.
  • Over 89% of recruiters are looking for candidates on LinkedIn.
  • Even if the company didn’t post the ad on LinkedIn, 90% of employers will look at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile before calling them for an interview.
  • Only 35% of job seekers are fully engaged on LinkedIn. (NOTE: while many job seekers are present on LinkedIn, that doesn’t mean they are using all of the tools available.)

Take into consideration that there are literally millions of publicly-posted AND privately-posted jobs on LinkedIn, it only makes sense for anyone seeking a professional-level job should be on the site. In fact, many employers are now allowing candidates to apply with their LinkedIn profile from their company’s application system, or ATS.

However, there’s a lot more to it than just being an online resume. If all that you have is your work history, it’s no wonder that you are not getting any quality contacts from the site.

Here’s what you are missing:

  1. Attracting recruiters

The best LinkedIn profiles will be fully complete and key word rich. This means that you need a compelling headline, a strong summary, concise but powerful work experience descriptions, and a complete skills section that reflects terms for your target job. When recruiters search for candidates on LinkedIn, they find them because of the amount of key words in their LinkedIn profile. If you didn’t bother to fill out your profile, the recruiters won’t bother with contacting you.

But that’s not all: LinkedIn will also favor users who are more active on the site AND those that have more connections, either personal 1st Degree connections or active Group connections.

  1. Giving employers the rest of the picture

When employers check out candidates who applied to their jobs, they are looking for some very important things. Most notably, they want to see Recommendations (which is NOT the same as the Endorsements on your Skills) and community involvement, such as volunteer work, professional organizations, projects, outside courses and so on. They may check out which Groups you belong to and what Companies you are following.

The most important thing they look for is consistency: does your work history coincide with your resume? While I do not suggest copying your resume word-for-word into your LinkedIn profile, the facts must be the same: company names, dates, locations, titles, and so on. Plus, the descriptions within the LinkedIn profile must be consistent. It drives them crazy when they see a highly detailed work history for every single job except the most current one. It looks lazy and sloppy.

  1. Connecting directly with hiring managers, potential colleagues, and industry influencers

Believe it or not, with a little strategic thinking and understanding of how the site works, it is possible to track down and connect with decision makers on LinkedIn. Even if you don’t find the direct hiring manager, connecting with current or past employees of your target companies can give you great insight into their culture and hiring procedures.

  1. Building your reputation

Whether you are posting your own articles or sharing content from other sources, one of the best way to build your brand is to share quality information on a consistent basis. Plus, when people look at your profile, they can all see your past activity, which includes these articles and posts.

  1. This IS a social network

The best thing about LinkedIn are the Groups. In these, you can connect with other professionals that can help your career. Note I said CAREER, not JOB SEARCH. Building a network is a long game, not just the short-term goal of getting a job. I know that some of my favorite people I’ve met in the past few years only know me online. Plus, you can use the Groups for professional development, learning about the trends in your industry. Nothing improves a candidate’s chances like staying on top of the latest developments.

Good luck with your networking. Remember, the old adage that 80% of jobs are found through networking is still very true. It’s just that much of the old school networking has morphed into the digital age through such sites as LinkedIn.

 

Donna Shannon

 

Got a question for Donna? Just email your question to april@personaltouchcareerservices.com

About the author: Donna Shannon is not the feel-good career coach you might expect.  For over eight years, she worked as the grumpy recruiter who never let your resume get through to the hiring manager. Since 2004, she has been teaching effective job search strategies to bypass the corporate guard dogs just like her.  Her book, “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy” is in its 2nd edition. Through her consulting business, The Personal Touch Career Services, Donna offers top quality resumes, coaching, and specialized training for job seekers across the country.

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About the Author:

Since 2004, Donna has been teaching job seekers of all levels effective job search strategies. In 2009, she published her book "Get a Job Without Going Crazy: a Practical Guide to Your Employment Search." Donna is based in Denver, and has presented workshops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. She continues to work with job seekers across the country.
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