Eight things you need to know about using LinkedIn

Posted on Apr 23, 2015 09:31 AM |

Eight things you need to know about using LinkedIn

Linkedin: It's more than just an online CV. Are you using its full potential?

There are 300 million people using LinkedIn, so chances are you’re already on board with the world’s largest social media site dedicated to careers.

But if you’re like most people you probably haven’t considered how useful LinkedIn can be beyond just being an online CV.

So if you’d like LinkedIn to help you land that dream job, here’s eight things to consider:

1. Don't just copy and paste your CV

If you’ve simply copied and pasted your CV to LinkedIn, then according to Megan Koehler at US career website, WorkAlpha, you’re seriously underutilising the platform’s potential to help you land your dream job.

After all, if you’ve applied for a job, an employer has already seen your resume. If they’re checking you out on LinkedIn it’s because they want to know more.

Koehler says:

“Your LinkedIn profile is not an online resume; it is a marketing tool designed to showcase your professional value. LinkedIn is free advertising and what you’re selling is you.”

Ok – so it sounds a bit ‘sales-y’, but the lesson is to seriously think about what you can include in your LinkedIn profile beyond just your work experience that will make you stand out to potential employers.

2. Remember to fill out your summary section

Writing a great summary at the top of your LinkedIn profile is crucial for two reasons:

  • It’s the first thing that people will see when looking at your profile. If it’s not up to date or compelling, potential employers will be less likely to keep reading; and
  • Many employers search on LinkedIn for potential staff, and a great summary means you’re much more likely to pop up in search results.

3. Give potential employers great insight into who you are

Demonstrating that you’re a passionate candidate, and that your values align with those of the organisation, are crucial factors for many potential employers – particularly in the not-for-profit sector.

LinkedIn has a raft of options here. You can list:

  • organisations you’ve volunteered for,
  • causes you care about,
  • organisations you make regular donations to,
  • personal interests, and
  • organisations and “influencers” you follow

Even if these aren’t directly related to roles that you’re applying for, each piece will give employers additional insight into your interests, passions and who you are as a person.

If you’re a web junkie, you might also want to link to your website, blog or Twitter account – making sure, of course, that everything published on these platforms is work-appropriate!

4. Get creative with your page

To really make your profile shine, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to highlight achievements and awards, or examples of your work – such as recent projects you’ve worked on, articles you might have published, or images and video related to work you’ve done. These not only showcase what you can do, but are also a fantastic way to add colour and movement to your profile – anything to break up blocks of text!

To make it easier for someone to read through your profile, you can also use sub-headings and dot points, which make the page easier to skim-read for time-pressed employers.

5. Be a smart and courteous networker

One thing that’s easy to do is make new connections – especially with people you haven’t ever met.

But while you might think 'the more the merrier' when expanding your network, don’t just add people to your LinkedIn network willy-nilly.

If you’re new to LinkedIn, start with people you know and then work your way towards people you’d like to connect with but don’t know.

The best way to do this is to ask mutual acquaintances to introduce you to people you want to connect with.

Or, if you don’t have a mutual connection but really want to connect with someone, make sure you at least personalise your invite and explain why you want to add them to your network.

Some people receive dozens of LinkedIn requests a week, and if your message comes from a stranger and doesn’t explain who you are and why you want to connect, they will likely ignore you, or worse – report your request as spam.

6. Use groups

In the same way Facebook has groups for people with common interests, so too does LinkedIn.

It might be groups for people with your job title, people working within your sector or people who are passionate about a similar issue. In any case, groups can be a great way to network, to keep up to date with the latest developments in your field, and increase your profile within a community by becoming a regular contributor to it.

Once you’ve joined a group, make sure you participate. Ask questions, share relevant articles, and comment on others’ posts – get to know your colleagues.

7. Use recommendations

Recommendations are a great way to display credible references on your profile, that can give potential employers confidence in your skills and experience.

The best people to recommend you are previous employers or close colleagues, so consider politely approaching them and asking them to make a recommendation on your page.

Clients, people you’ve taught, and former colleagues are all good options for recommendations as well.

8. Don't spend your time asking for work

Once you’ve made some connections, be conscious not to simply ask people for work.

Instead, build rapport with your connections, be useful to them by posting content or offering your help to them, be polite and work on building a long-term relationship.

Networking in this way will allow you to connect with people you might not have been able to meet in real life, and open up the possibility of meeting their networks too. It will also give you the opportunity to learn more about what is happening in your field of interest, such as new programs or projects, and potentially open the door to volunteer or job opportunities.

Once in line for a position, LinkedIn can give you that extra visibility that could tip an employer over the line into hiring you.

Do you have any other tips for how to best use LinkedIn? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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