When searching for a new job, it makes sense to use multiple resources online, offline, and through networking. One of our favorites? LinkedIn. It's our go-to job resource — and it can work for you 24/7 once you’ve established a good profile, defined your search criteria, contacts, and information-gathering techniques.
Read on to learn how to make the most of LinkedIn.
Getting Started: The LinkedIn Basics
We consider LinkedIn to be one of the most powerful business-related social networking tools ever created.
- Use LinkedIn to keep you in front of existing clients
- Use your existing LinkedIn network to introduce you to more connections
- Find your next job
- Research the activities of targeted companies
- Publish your own articles that get viewed by hundreds of individuals and businesses
And you can accomplish these impressive feats for free!
Here are the three basics to help get you started on the right track:
Basic #1: Be Smart
According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, so you want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward. You can employ the Job Search Internet Checklist to ensure that employers view only the information that you want them to find...and on LinkedIn, it should be all professional, all the time. Basically, make sure you're posting professional information and content on your LinkedIn account.
Want more social media + job hunting tips? Check out this post!
Basic #2: Make the Most of Messages
When you connect with someone new, creating an individual message directed at each contact will gain you more success than firing off a generic "let's connect" request. Mention how you met the person, or if you don't know your potential connection personally, show them how your abilities can be of interest to them so they will welcome your continued communication. Try mentioning work of theirs that you admire and sharing the reason you'd like to connect.
Basic #3: Build Relationships
Grow your network and start crafting good relationships by connecting with alumni, peers, colleagues, and industry influencers, and by joining LinkedIn groups and following your dream job companies. Building a network of industry peers can help you get the wide reach needed to maximize valuable relationships. Keep the magic going after your initial connection by engaging with people and companies through the newsfeed on the platform. Push the like button on work anniversaries and updates, share interesting industry news, and comment on your connections' activity.
Want to get even more out of LinkedIn? Perhaps the biggest way to start is by publishing on the platform.
We found this great video full of tips for self-publishing on LinkedIn from Content Marketer Sujan Patel (watch it on YouTube here). LinkedIn Publishing is a cross between traditional blogging and a social network that provides you with a unique opportunity to reach a large audience.
Haven't tried it yet? You should! According to CIO.com:
If you think about why people are doing this today, it really goes back to their professional identities. It helps them build identities that go beyond their connections…and a lot of these posts have also led to opportunities, which is unique to LinkedIn.
But Wait — Who Reads LinkedIn?
CIO magazine cited statistics from 2015, where more than one million users published on the platform. An average of 50,000 articles are added to the platform every week. Typical industries include everything from healthcare and insurance to marketing and politics. Platform algorithms push content out into the world, and the quality of the content is generally pretty solid. People want to put their best writing out there because LinkedIn is linked to their professional personas.
The truth is that everyone wants to hire a thought leader. For companies building their business, publishing on LinkedIn is a low-cost, but effective, way to reach their audience while building credibility. Thought leadership pieces are promotional tools that could help start a conversation with someone you have been trying to get to know. Along the same lines, it can help you expand your personal network, which is never a bad idea.
Anna Julow Roolf, Vice President at BLASTmedia, says, "LinkedIn stands out as a self-publishing platform because of its capability to help users showcase expertise to relevant and interested audiences."
Bonus: The posts come complete with metrics on your readership broken out by industry, job title, and more, which is helpful when trying to determine if you’re targeting the right audience.
How to Leverage Self-Publishing
How can you best leverage this unique platform? Here are some tips from Sujan Patel:
1. Do Your Research
Just like when writing for a company blog, you want to do your research. What topics are trending and relevant in your industry? Don't just write about what you love — take the time to see what needs to be written about in your industry. Patel suggests looking at the "trending" menu on LinkedIn. Look through the most popular, trending posts, and then identify gaps you could fill that match your specialty.
Also, take time to see what style of posts are popular. Look at influencer post styles and mirror them in your own writing, whether it's how-to guides, short and sweet posts, or Buzzfeed "listicle" style ones.
2. Don't Be Unique
When it comes to LinkedIn Publishing you don't need to be 100% unique. It's perfectly fine, and recommended, to re-purpose existing content that has worked for you elsewhere. However, don't simply copy and paste former blog posts. "Squeeze more life out of them," says Patel. Try reworking pieces by presenting a different viewpoint or adding new data to them.
3. Post at the Right Time
Mornings rule when it comes to LinkedIn. Patel has had success posting between 8-9am PST. Check your personal blog stats and social media insights to see what time is most popular for your readers — it might vary.
LinkedIn Publishing is all about promotions. Likes and shares will push your content to more people. To gain velocity, optimize your posting to get shares and likes. Know you'll be posting at 8:45am on Friday? Ask your fans, friends, and family to like and share your content.
As Kirsten Agnello-Dean, Artisan's Social Media Manager and Freelance Copywriter/Marketer says: "Likes are nice, but sharing is caring." Regularly share content you find interesting and ask people near and dear to you to share your own content.
Other things you can do to self-promote? Send out an email asking your network to view the post and click the like button. This will increase your chances of getting listed on the sidebar.
Speaking of which...
5. Email LinkedIn
Want to get that coveted "popular" spot on the trending list? Once your post has picked up some traction, Patel suggests emailing a link to firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief description of why they should feature your post. "Did you bring up an interesting topic? Get a lot of shares in a short amount of time? Brag to LinkedIn and ask them to feature you. Even better? Ask a friend or colleague to do so on your behalf," he says.
6. Add a Call to Action
This last tip is a simple one, but it will extend the life of your post. At the bottom, make sure there's a clear call to action (CTA) suggesting what the reader should do next. Want them to visit your website, follow you on Twitter, or sign up for your newsletter? The CTA reminds them to do so and helps give your post some ROI.
4 Reasons to Get Started LinkedIn Publishing
Not sure if writing on LinkedIn is the way to go? We can think of four good reasons to publish on LinkedIn Pulse:
- To increase visibility with your target audience.
Keep in mind this isn’t Facebook. This is a serious professional audience that isn’t hanging out looking at memes. Connecting with these professionals should be a priority.
- It’s free.
Anyone can publish on this platform for free, which makes for a big bang for the buck, especially if you don't have your own website. Small business owners are always looking for low-cost business development ideas — this is one solution.
- There's more visibility than writing on your blog.
It’s the whole “if a tree falls in the forest” thing. LinkedIn comes with immediate potential visibility. Instead of writing a fresh blog on your website and then finding an audience, LinkedIn comes ready-made for you to share the post in their social network.
- You can build your social media brand.
You can create a post and join LinkedIn groups that could benefit from the content. Then, share your article with the group. Bam! Instant social network.
Need inspiration? Here are some of our favorites from Artisan Talent self-publishers:
- Simple Ways to Inspire Your Staff - CEO Bejan Douraghy
- Why You Should Freelance Through an Agency - Copywriter Kirsten Agnello-Dean
- What is a Net Promoter Score? - Vice President Cameron Douraghy
- Selling to Remote Prospects - New Business Account Manager Lawrence Newquist II
- How to Build a Solid Career Brand - Director of Operations Ellen Bird
How to Use LinkedIn for Job Searching
Looking for a new job? LinkedIn is the place to be! Try these six tips for making the most of your digital job hunt.
1. Rewrite Your Headline
Use that blurb of text directly under your name to get a Hiring Manager’s attention. Forbes notes that most people just have their title and company listed there — but it’s just a boring old default setting.
Instead, write a compelling description, complete with SEO-friendly keywords describing what you can do. If you’re a Web Designer, it might go something like, “Web Designer who turns boring websites into gorgeous money-making machines.” This tells them what you do and why they need to contact you.
2. Aim for All-Star: Polish Your Profile
Does your profile list you as an all-star?
Your LinkedIn profile can be so much more than a static online resume—use it to showcase an awesome infographic you designed, your YouTube channel presentations, the digital version of your portfolio—anything that shows, rather than just tells your story.
Optimize your profile for search by using keywords that will draw prospective employers to you. Keywords can be distributed throughout your profile wherever they fit, but make certain that they are in your title and summary. That way the most essential portions of your profile will show up in searches.
And don’t forget to include a great photo and ask some of your trusted colleagues to post recommendations for you.
Not sure if your photo is good or not? Keep these tips in mind:
- DO get a professional photo taken.
Yes, it costs money, but consider it an investment in your career. Many headshot photographers offer social media packages at reasonable rates.
- DO choose a photo that looks like you.
Make sure people who online stalk you before you meet know what you look like. Do you wear glasses every day? Then wear them in your photo.
- DO dress like you're at the office.
The best attire for a LinkedIn photo? What you would normally wear to work. Dress like the profession you're in or hope to be in. Pick a flattering color and go easy on the accessories. You want your sparkling personality to be the focus of the photo.
- DO look confident and pleasant.
Think like Entrepreneur.com and ask yourself — if you were looking for a new employee or recruiting a leader for a company, would you hire the person in the photo?
- DO fill up the frame.
You want the photo focus to be on you. A good rule of thumb is to fill up 60% of the photo with yourself. While it's great that you climbed that mountain or went to the beach, we don't need to see a wide shot with a tiny person in it. Skip complicated backgrounds and fill the frame from the shoulders up.
- Don't skip the profile photo.
You’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a photo, says Forbes. Plus, if you don't have one, it looks suspicious. "Like a house that’s on sale, the assumption is that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong." A photo also helps differentiate you if you have a common name like "Bob Taylor," because there could be several people with your name.
- Don't post a selfie.
Even if it's not the stereotypical duckface selfie, pictures taken by yourself are usually pretty obvious. If you don't want to pay for professional photos, ask a shutterbug friend to help.
- Don't include others.
LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams says, "No dog, no husband, no baby." Avoid the faux pas of cropping someone out or including other people or pets in your photos. Connections and recruiters want to instantly know who they're connecting with.
- Don't use an old photo.
While it's natural to want to use a photo of yourself looking your best, Business Insider points out, "A person might use a photo of themselves from ten years ago. However, once they call you in for an interview, the jig is up. An interviewee might feel slighted due to your bait and switch campaign."
Don't use filters.
A LinkedIn photo is not the place for fancy filtered photos or unusual crops. Stick with well-lit, straightforward shots.
3. Track Your Target Companies
Start following a list of companies you’re interested in working for on LinkedIn. Their status updates and other posts will give you insights regarding their latest news, products, and possible job rumblings — even potential problems the company may be encountering that you could jump in and help solve!
That’s great material you can use in your approach to the company when you send in your resume and cover letter, or “Pain Letter” as Ryan suggests—and great intelligence for a potential interview!
4. Network, Network, Network
Go to the Connections menu and navigate down to “Add Connections.” Use your email address to help LinkedIn find more first-degree connections you may have overlooked in the past. The bigger your first-degree connections list is, the bigger your second-degree connections list becomes, which can lead to further potential connections and opportunities.
5. Ask Your Connections for Connections
If any of your first-degree connections are linked with people in any of your target companies, ask what they know about the company and the culture, and find out what you can about your potential hiring manager. After all, referrals have been proven to be better hires, and LinkedIn can help you jump over the HR department wall if you have a first-degree connection who is connected to someone in your target company.
Just navigate to your target person and click on the drop-down arrow to the right of the “Connect” button and click “Get Introduced.” Then your first-degree friend can help facilitate that introduction.
6. Tell a Story
Your LinkedIn profile is so much more than a resume. Use it to tell the story of your career, list accomplishments, and show off projects.
Director of Operations for Artisan, Ellen Reda, reminds job seekers to always "know the story of your career and where you want to go."
We like this quote so much we posted it on Instagram!
Don't forget to make use of your summary section. This is a great place to tell your story — where you've been and where you want to go.
Speaking of Networks: How to Use Yours
While LinkedIn has more sophisticated offerings available for a fee, this platform allows for robust networking that won’t cost you anything but an investment of your time. Here's how to expand your network:
1. Find Your Connections in Your Contacts
Upload your contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, or another email platform. LinkedIn will allow you to send a generic message to each contact inviting them to connect, but we recommend customizing your approach by reaching out individually to these contacts.
2. Listen to Their Suggestions
The platform will immediately begin to suggest ways to expand your network by connecting with “people you may know.” We recommend you decide early on what kind of a network you want to build, and follow the rules you establish to build a strong and effective cohort of business connections. Asking to connect with someone you don’t know is always risky, but you could review your existing contacts to see whom they know — and then ask them for an introduction via email?
3. Organize Your Contacts
As you’re sorting through all the connections, note that you can also organize your network via tags for location or lead source, as well as other categories.
4. Connect with Recruiters
If you're looking for new connections or a new job, make sure to connect with those friendly Recruiters sending you InMail. They have vast, deep networks and are always looking to make a match between employers and employees.
Professional Recruiters know industry insider information, such as:
- The latest industry news
- Where jobs are and what they pay
- What competitors are doing to attract top-tier candidates
- Who is currently in the marketplace
- Who is considering a move down the road
- The strengths and weaknesses of specific candidates and companies
- Company-specific information like strategic goals and financial growth
No one is more connected to your industry and the work world in general than a Recruiter, which makes them a unique and vital resource for both HR Managers and job-seeking career professionals. Start with the Artisan team here.
Once you’re set up, we recommend logging in at least once a week (if not more). LinkedIn has all the benefits of a personal social media platform like Facebook, but was strictly designed for the industry professional.
Follow the unwritten rules, keep more personal posts to other platforms, and use LinkedIn the way it was intended.
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