Tech Columnist Steven Petrow published an article on the LinkedIn.
So, you want a new job? If you’re like more than 450 million others on the planet, you’re going to turn to LinkedIn to let your fingers do the heavy lifting of finding a new position. I should know—I’ve been there, done that.
MORE AND MORE BUSINESSES ARE USING LINKEDIN AS EITHER THEIR PRIMARY
But here’s something I learned only recently: More and more businesses are using LinkedIn as either their primary, or in many cases exclusive, job-posting site — which means you’ve got to learn how to play the LinkedIn game.
Teddy Burriss, social media strategist and LinkedIn coach and trainer, says the first thing to do is make sure the job you’re seeking is in your wheelhouse, meaning, “that it’s highly relevant to who you are and what you do.” If you’re an administrative assistant, for example, it’s downright foolish to apply for a risk management position. “You’re just shooting at opportunities,” Burriss says with a quick laugh, “wasting a hiring manager’s time and tarnishing your own reputation.”
Number two: Your profile must demonstrate that you are “relevant” to the position — it needs to show the recruiter or hiring manager that you have the requisite skills, talent, and experience for this particular job. How do you do that? That takes us to Burriss’s next recommendation: Your profile must use the key words relevant to the position you want. Before you apply for positions bake those words into your profile. (To add skills to your profile, check out this guide on LinkedIn.)
Well, that sounds easy-peasy, right? Not so fast. “Key words are not common sense,” Burriss admits, because hiring managers are often idiosyncratic in the language they use to describe a position. What you must do, he counsels, is study each job description and use the words it uses in your profile and résumé.
Trudy Steinfeld, associate vice president and executive director of NYU’s Wasserman Center for Career Development, also stresses the importance of using the right key words, because that’s how “applicant tracking systems and LinkedIn work. You have to use those exact same words to beat it.”
Burriss’s third suggestion is the most intriguing — and I actually think it’s the most likely to help you succeed: Even if a position is relevant to your skill set and sounds perfect for you, don’t just apply for it willy nilly. Burriss insists that you first need to build a relationship with individuals in the companies where you want to work. Sure, it seems a bit old-school, but even in our high-tech world you must network.
Groups and influencers
While you are on LinkedIn, but before you begin your job search, start a business conversation—not a job conversation—that shows off your smarts. NYU’s Steinfeld recommends joining relevant groups and following people on LinkedIn who are connected to your career interests. This will allow you to comment on relevant topics in public forums, which may get you the attention from so-called “influencers” that you’re seeking.
To join a professional group Burriss told me that a high number of jobs are what he calls “hidden” ones—they’re not publicly posted. If you’ve developed multiple relationships over time with the right people, they will come to you with these job openings. How great—and what a trick – is that! Need help finding a professional group? (Click here for an alphabetical listing or here to search by interest, organization, or affiliation.)
Steinfeld has some other tricks up her sleeve. Make sure your profile’s headline “reflects the job you’re seeking, not the job you currently have.” (That’s the biggest mistake job applicants make, she told me.) She also urges applicants to maximize the power of LinkedIn by joining their college page, former employer pages, or professional/trade associations. Keep up with your connections even when not seeking a new position, she urges, which will make it easier for you to ask for introductions when the time comes. More than anything, Steinfeld stressed the importance of having a connection with someone inside the organization where you want to work.
Photo, location, college
Here are two more tips, this time from Matthew Schwab, who blogs about career management. Make sure you have a great professional profile photo (which means it’s not likely to be the same one you use on Facebook or Snapchat). He recommends paying a professional photographer, who will make you look like, yes, a professional. Just as on dating sites, profile photos should be no more than five years old. Finally, if you’re seeking a job in a new geographic area, update your location in your profile before you apply. Otherwise you’re likely to be filtered out “over concern about non-existent relocation expenses,” he wrote on his blog. (To update your profile, follow these instructions on LinkedIn.)
Schwab had one last suggestion to game the system. Because recruiters filter job resumes for prestigious colleges, he recommends taking a professional development class at a top-ranked university and including its name in your profile. Most colleges, even the top tier ones, offer courses at reasonable prices and without the usual admissions. If it’s not possible to do that in person, Schwab recommends taking a relevant MOOC class from a brand-name college, and including it in your profile. Be sure you actually take the class, so that when you get that in-person interview you’re able to speak about what you learned.
The takeaway: LinkedIn is the go-to site for job seekers, but taking the time to optimize your network and your profile in advance is key to making it pay off for you with the perfect new position.