I am often surprised when I meet with candidates and discuss their job search and the approach they are taking to finding a new job, to find that they are not on Linkedin or when I view their profile, to see what limited information they have presented. LinkedIn is the most valuable resource out there to both job candidates and recruiters. For a candidate, it is like free advertising. Personally, I hardly ever advertise any of the positions that I am working on. Why not? I am generally looking for a very specific type skillset and individual, and if I post a job, the moment people see the words “fashion” and “beauty” , I get hundreds of applicants applying. 99% of them that are not going to be suitable and I definitely don’t have the time to open and read 99 resumes to find one good one. LinkedIn allows me to target candidates, good candidates, most of whom are currently working. I can search for candidates in different ways. I can search by title and location, “Marketing Director” and “New York” for example. If I am looking for someone with fashion experience, I select the “apparel and fashion” category whilst doing this search as well as the above criteria. I may also add selections under the keyword option such as “social media” for example, so it is a good idea to make your profile as detailed as possible, so that any of these words can be captured in a seach. A lot of agency candidates make the mistake of not including the accounts they work on in their profile. If I do a search for Account Managers working at JWT, and fifty profiles appear in this search, I am going to be more interested in and most likely to reach out to the ones who have their accounts listed, as I have a better idea about their experience.
When setting up your LinkedIn profile this is an excellent opportunity for you to showcase your experience to potential employers. Therefore, you should pretty much cut and paste your resume and make your profile look as interesting as possible. Also, under the specialities section you should include any keywords that highlight your particular experience (“CRM, e-commerce etc) so that your profile will appear should anyone include these words in their searches.
Make sure that you always selection the option that you are “open to hearing about new opportunities”. LinkedIn is not a job board, it is a professional networking site so there is no need for anyone to feel nervous about having their profile there. If I am headhunting into one company, Donna Karan for example, and two Marketing Directors have come up in my search, I am not going to reach out to both of them. When deciding between the two, I will make my decision based on who has more detailed information available to me on their profile, and if one says they are open to hearing about new opportunities and the other is not, I will of course reach out to the one that is open to hearing about roles. Even if you are not actively looking for a new position, you should always choose this option. Why not? I may be contacting you about your dream job.
Another thing about LinkedIn that I am realizing not a lot of people seem to know, is that the more connections you have, the wider your network. Why is this important? LinkedIn is different from Facebook, when you are “friends” with someone on facebook, thats where your relationship ends. However, when you connect with someone on LinkedIn, you are given access to their network. What does this mean to you? Well, going back to my earlier example of me doing a search for “fashion” and “marketing director”, 300 names might come up. and the ones at the top of the list are going to be those that are closer to me in my network. Those are the people that I am going to be reaching out to first. 300 names is not a lot of names for me to get through, however it may take me some time, and by the time I get down to contacting you who is down the bottom of the list at number 299, I may have already filled that dream job……
Here is another good article that explains the benefits of LinkedIn and how to best use the site as a job seeker – http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/24/technology/linkedin_social_networking.fortune/index.htm