Okay, you’ve created your LinkedIn profile, updated all of your past experience and education, so you’re all set to go, right? Wrong. If you don’t actually DO something with your LinkedIn account and make the most of it, then you’re missing out. Here’s what your REALLY need to know about LinkedIn to land that dream job.

1. You never know who your friends know.

  • That college kid who cuts your grass? His dad is the CEO of XYZ, your dream company.
  • Your frat brother from college? His sister works in HR at XYZ.
  • Your neighbor? He was the best man in the wedding of that hiring manager at XYZ.
  • Your poker buddy? He used to work at XYZ and knows hundreds of employees there.
A business card can’t tell you any of this, but LinkedIn can. At the end of the day, this difference is what makes LinkedIn the most important tool in your job search strategy.
To do: Start connecting and build your network. How? See #2 on this list.

2. A small, limited network is an ineffective network.

“It’s not WHAT you know… it’s WHO you know.” Never has this saying been more true than in a bad economy and job market. People feel safer hiring a known quantity so the wider your network, the better your chances. Each first-level connection links you to everyone THEY know and everyone that THOSE people know. Powerful, huh?
To do:  Really grow your network. Connect with friends, family members, past & present coworkers / clients, neighbors, classmates, professors, recruiters and maybe even a handful super-connectors (to really give your network a boost). Then network with those connections to land that dream job. Your buddy putting in a good word for you could be the tipping point that landed YOU the interview instead of some other guy/gal.

3. If you don’t think about keywords, you’ll miss the bus.

LinkedIn is the biggest, best resume database ever created (plus a ton more, obviously – see #5 below – but the resume database part is key to my point here).  93% of recruiters used LinkedIn to hire last year and that number is only growing. We do searches to find candidates who meet the requirements for our openings. We use long, elaborate “search strings” to sift through the 277 million user profiles in LinkedIn. Yes, 277 MILLION. We search for specific keywords and only look at resumes that contain the right combinations of those keywords. If your resume doesn’t contain those specific terms, recruiters aren’t even looking at your resume. And you can’t win the prize if you’re not even running in the race.
To do: Look at job descriptions for your dream job. What skills are listed as requirements? What job titles are they using? What specific terms are listed in these descriptions? Is the same concept listed three different ways by three different companies? Make sure your resume is varied and diverse in its language to incorporate each possible way of saying the same thing. (For me, it might be “recruiter” v. “talent acquisition” v. “staffing” v. “sourcer”…) Use keywords to be found.

4. Post and pray doesn’t work.

You wouldn’t dream of creating a LinkedIn profile and just waiting for someone to reach out to you, would you? Don’t do that with job boards or company career pages either. You can’t just apply online for a job and then cross your fingers that you’ll hear back from the company. Remember that dozens or, more likely, HUNDREDS of other applicants applied for that very same job. What are you doing to stand out from the pack?
To do: After applying online via a company’s website, you should ALWAYS follow up afterward. LinkedIn is the perfect way to do this. You can search for recruiters and/or hiring managers at that company. Reach out to them and let them know that you’ve already applied online and wanted to follow up to reiterate your strong interest in working for XYZ. Mention the specific job number and briefly emphasize how perfectly you match the top handful of requirements. Let them know that you are available to interview at their convenience and thank them for their time. Cover letters are dead. This “post-application LinkedIn follow-up” is the new cover letter. This is where you use your own words to shine and stand out from the pack. Proactive, enthusiastic and driven are all good qualities in a future employee!

5. LinkedIn is so much MORE than just a resume database.

To redeem myself for what I wrote in #3, I must remind you that LinkedIn is so very much more than a resume database or job board. There are so many wonderful features that you just can’t find elsewhere. There are groups, status updates, recommendations, endorsements, visual attachments/links you can add to your profile (love these!), profile pics, messaging, LinkedIn Today – an aggregator of trending articles on any number of categories that you can customize to suit your needs (bye-bye, morning paper!), posts by thought leaders in your industry, you name it!
To do: Block time each day to play around on LinkedIn and explore the various features available to you. Some may not speak to you but others may make all the difference. Use these tools to brand yourself as an expert in your field and make yourself attractive to recruiters, hiring managers, future employers. Fully leveraging the LinkedIn tools available to you could make all the difference in your job search…. which, hopefully, means you won’t be a jobseeker for long!
Good luck out there. I know it’s tough, but LinkedIn can be an amazing resource if used effectively. There are so many helpful people and experts on LinkedIn who are willing to help and share their knowledge… put yourself “out there” and take advantage of it all! You CAN do it!
What’s YOUR best tip for LinkedIn networking? Any other tips you’d like to share? We’d all love to hear from you!
Learn more tips, tools and tricks for getting the most out of LinkedIn at StacyZapar.com
StacyZaparHeadshot-SmallAbout the Author: Stacy Donovan Zapar is a 16-year recruiting veteran for Fortune 500 tech companies and CEO & Founder of Tenfold Social Training, a recruiter training company for talent acquisition and staffing teams around the world. In addition to in-house recruiter training, she is also currently working for Zappos as their Candidate Experience & Engagement Strategist, working on fun projects around social recruiting, talent communities, talent brand, candidate experience and more.