Networking to find your next gig can feel overwhelming when you’re scrambling to fit in all the responsibilities of your current job, your family and those two 7 minute workouts a week (Thanks, New York Times!). After-work events can seem like an impossibility when you’re exhausted and desperate for a little QT with the TV at the end of the day.
Enter our friend, LinkedIn. Imagine, networking in your PJ’s while binge-watching Billions. Yes, this can happen. And while this won’t be your entire strategy, it will help you gain momentum in your search so your in-person conversations can be fruitful and high impact.
Its time to get tactical, friends! For you LinkedIn power users out there this may be a review, but I find many of my clients are just scratching the surface with how to use this critical tool. Here’s how we dig in and 10x their results with my 6 Ways To Leverage LinkedIn For Your Job Search.
1. Explore Profiles Of Others With Roles You Had And Roles You Want
Before you commit to updating the language in your profile, do your research! Search some of the job titles you’ve had and learn how others are describing themselves and the keywords they use to brand their expertise. Do not plagiarize, but take notes on common themes that you may want to include in your profile. On the flip side, I find many of my clients are not clear on the kinds of roles they want for their next gig. Search roles that you’re curious about and notice if the descriptions in these profiles resonate with you, include expertise you have and skills you want to learn.
2. Synch Up Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
This is LinkedIn 101, but you would be amazed at the number of people who are not doing it! Take some of the building blocks from your resume like the summary, expertise bullets and bullets for each job and use them as a starting point for your LinkedIn Profile. Since you’re not working with the same length restrictions on LinkedIn, feel free to add more to your LinkedIn summary that would give it more personality and intrigue—beyond what’s in your resume. Make the dates between your resume and your LinkedIn profile match. Period. Hiring managers and recruiters are going to make this comparison so you should beat them to it! Include your education, certifications, interests, volunteer work, etc.—everything you can to fill out the picture of who you are. And speaking of pictures, you need one! Here’s a needle in a haystack task for you—find the one photo of you without your kids. If you don’t have one, recruit that friend who’s exploring her photography skills to snap one of you ASAP.
3. Expand Your Network To 500+ Contacts
The larger your LinkedIn network, the more successful you’ll be with Step 4 that I’ll discuss in a moment. Four years ago, I created a game for myself to hit 500 contacts. I wasn’t sure why I was doing it at the time, but I’m so glad I did—and so are my clients who are able to make new connections through my expansive network! By making it a game, it was fun instead of a chore. And this is the perfect task to do while you’re winding down in the evening. Ideally, you should personalize each request, but if that’s dramatically slowing you down—the standard request is often overlooked so I wouldn’t get too stressed about sticking with it. Don’t limit yourself by only expanding your network with contacts in your city. People move around and they have global connections. Right now, your focus is on broadening your reach, regardless of location.
4. Research Your Target Companies And Find Contacts
I take a proactive approach to job searching by focusing on target companies rather than simply applying to job postings ad nauseam. Once you’ve expanded your network, search your target companies, follow them on LinkedIn so you see their updates in your newsfeed. Then either within the search bar or on the company page, LinkedIn will allow you to see “people at this company.” You will see a list of people who either currently work at the company or have at one time. You can then narrow your search by checking the checkboxes for 1st and 2nd degree connections in the left margin of the page. If you have 1st degree connections to your dream company—congratulations—you’ve got the golden ticket. Reach out to this contact for an informational interview, even if there’s not a role currently available. If you only have 2nd degree connections, don’t fret! You can reach out to your 2nd degree contact and ask for an intro to his or her contact at the company. If you don’t have 1st or 2nd degree contacts, go back to step 3 and continue expanding your network.
5. Get Active And Contribute Content In Your Area of Expertise (So meta!)
One way to get noticed on LinkedIn is to become an active participant in the community. The easiest way to do this is to like, comment on or share the articles in your newsfeed. Each time you do this, your profile is shown in the newsfeeds of ALL of your contacts. Way to get easy exposure, friends! If you have time to go a bit further, post other articles you find that fit with your expertise and your personal brand. And of course, the highest level of contribution is to create content for the LinkedIn community. While it can be time-consuming, it’s a great way to build out your brand, share your point of view and help in areas where you see gaps in skillsets and information. See you around the newsfeed!
6. Ask For Endorsements
While asking for something from others can often be hard, it’s worth it. Reach out to colleagues past and present, with whom you’ve built meaningful relationships to ask them to share an endorsement for you. If the first few you reach out to are busy, don’t take it personally and connect with others on your list. These endorsements fill out your page with powerful nuggets about who you are, your personal brand and what it’s like to work with you. Hiring managers expect to see them on your profile and it can be a red flag if you don’t have any.
Becoming a LinkedIn Ninja is the perfect way to jump-start your 2017 job search. Get your wheels turning, ideas firing and your network churning so that you land the right next job for you.