Dear Matt: I’m on LinkedIn. Should I be worried that if I apply for a job that an employer will check my connections and possibly find someone else they would rather hire through my network? What are some reasons why I should be on LinkedIn?

Matt: LinkedIn is a great resource for business professionals. In fact, it is, in my opinion, the best online professional networking resource available at this time. You can grow your network of contacts in and out of your industry, join groups that provide resources, tips and discussions, and interact with like-minded individuals all over the country – and world. You can search jobs, research information about companies, find prospects and leads, and make connections with people who can help you get ahead in your career.

It’s no secret employers do search for information about candidates online. While they may come across your LinkedIn profile, they do have to be connected to you to see who you are connected to. So, the chances of them going through you to find another candidate are slim. The main thing to focus on when applying for a job is your resume - and providing the employer with enough details in the resume that they want to bring you in for the interview. Recruiters vary in their opinion on whether or not you should include your LinkedIn profile on a resume. Some are for it, some are not. But having a strong LinkedIn profile is not what is going to separate you in the job search, it is going to be the resume and then impressing during the interview.

Where LinkedIn helps you however, is when you are searching for a job or looking to expand your knowledge base. For Minnesota professionals and job seekers there are a number of great resources to take advantage of on LinkedIn. Among them are these groups:

  • LinkedMinnesota – which has over 8,000 members and dubs itself as a networking and discussion group for all professionals in Minnesota.
  • Minnesota Networking Group – which has over 5,500 members and is dedicated to anyone who lives or works in Minnesota.
  • MN Job Hunters – which has over 760 members and is a group that helps promote networking for both job hunters and recruiters in Minnesota.

This is only a small sample of ways to get connected via LinkedIn. You can type in key words based on your industry/profession/career – and even hobbies, and possibly connect with others.

Why is this important? Because in today’s job market it’s not what you know but who you know. And the more people you can connect with who can become resources, the greater the chances you have of growing your career.

Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. This column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to