Guest post by Irene McConnell
I speak to a lot of managers who, prior to seeing me, don’t see the benefit of using LinkedIn as a job search tool. “It seems like a huge waste of time” is a common sentiment.
If that’s been you until now, I completely understand. Most advice you read online tells you that “you must be on LinkedIn”. The platform is becoming what the Australian Financial Review worked so hard to become – a daily habit of successful people.
So, you log in. Perhaps you read and post some content. You join a few groups, because LinkedIn says it “improves your visibility”. Of course, you also endlessly compare yourself by stalking profiles of other users. Every now and then you also make tweaks to your profile, until you feel like you’re winning the “Best Looking LinkedIn Profile at My Company” award.
Before you know it, LinkedIn has become your new (and largely guilt-free) form of procrastination. In the meantime, your odds of securing a new management job by using the platform remain the same.
The biggest mistake I see professionals make when using LinkedIn for job search is a lack of focus. Most people stumble around the platform without a cohesive strategy to guide their activity.
Which is why I decided to write this post. My aim now is to show you five key areas which you can focus on, in order to prepare yourself for a highly effective job search on LinkedIn.
1. Get glowing recommendations
I suggest you get into a regular habit of asking for, and giving, recommendations.
You can approach your past bosses, colleagues and clients. Having said that, avoid the trap of reciprocal recommendations. A good recruiter will check out the profiles of people who have recommended you and if there’s a pattern of “I’ll give you one if you give me one”, your chances of getting a call will be significantly diminished.
2. Blog on your LinkedIn profile
You should publish expert pieces of content which show off your expertise while giving insights into how you think and what drives you.
LinkedIn has recently opened its blog publishing platform to a few select users, but if you weren’t one of them, you can apply for early access. This capability gives you capacity to publish articles directly to your profile. For example, if you’re a manager at a law firm, you can write short and valuable articles which discuss the intricacies of moving from a private practice to an in-house role.
3. Become a guest expert blogger
I also strongly recommend that you approach influential bloggers in your professional space with the aim of becoming a guest expert blogger. When you guest author content on other sites, you’ll be given an opportunity to provide links back to your online assets.
Linking to your LinkedIn profile will improve its authority in the eyes of Google, which means your profile will come higher in organic search results when someone Googles your name. If your name is quite common, it will go a long way to help recruiters find you.
4. Debate in LinkedIn groups
If you’re like most people, you have joined a few groups when you first signed up to LinkedIn because you wanted to fill up the empty space on your profile – and you haven’t been back to those groups since.
That’s okay – trust me, you’re not alone. I suggest you shed all your past groups and start again. When joining a group this time, ask yourself whether you have anything valuable to contribute to it. Make it your priority to go into a group with the aim of leaving it a better place than you found it.
5. Don’t “spray and pray”
Plenty of management jobs are advertised on LinkedIn today, but if you spend the afternoon pushing the “Apply Now” button on as many listings as possible, this is likely to be a waste of your time. This is because LinkedIn is not a board of classifieds. It’s old-fashioned networking, supercharged by social media technology.
You can significantly increase your chances of getting hired if you already have a pre-existing 1st degree LinkedIn connection with a decision-maker at a company you want to work for. The good news is – if you’re a manager, you’re probably no stranger to networking. You simply have to expand your networking skills into the online world.
I suggest you set aside some time – about one hour each week – to build your LinkedIn network with the aim of striking up conversations with employees and managers at companies you want to work for.
Follow their company profiles and their other social media accounts and look for opportunities to add perspective to their conversations and add value to their business. If you strike a common chord, send them a personalised connection request.
That way, when a company you want to work at posts a job ad, you’ll be already positioned as “someone they know”. In many cases, however, you won’t have to wait for a position to be advertised – you’ll know about the opportunities long before they are made public.
Key points to remember
This might seem like a lot of work. And I agree with you – it can be. It also seems very different to what our parents did to make themselves more employable. Until very recently, it was very unusual to hear that blogging, for example, is a good way to advance your career.
It’s important to realise, however, that the world is quickly changing to favour people who are actively promoting themselves online.
One of the best ways of doing it is by transforming your LinkedIn profile into your key online personal branding asset, which gives you the opportunity to spark conversations with potential employers and to be discovered by them.
To learn every single one of LinkedIn’s little-known features and understand the platform better than 99.9% of your colleagues ever will, read this excellent Unofficial LinkedIn User’s Guide For Executives & Professionals.
Irene McConnell (nee Kotov) is the founder of Arielle Careers, a personal branding agency which specialises in LinkedIn profile optimisation, resume writing and online presence creation. You can catch up with Irene on Google+.