Dear Matt: Everyone is talking about LinkedIn. Why is this such an influential resource for job seekers and recruiters? How can I get the most out of it?
Matt says: There a wide variety of reasons LinkedIn is the most influential professional networking site out there. Think about it from a job seeker's perspective: All we ever asked for is access to recruiters, hiring managers and key decisionmakers, and we finally can get that through LinkedIn. Think about it from the recruiter's perspective: All they want is to find the best candidates for the job and the opportunity to learn as much as possible about them before interviewing or offering a job. LinkedIn gives recruiters another chance to learn more about a potential candidate, beyond what may be on a résumé or in an application. It also adds a personal touch and connects job seekers and recruiters like no other resource has ever before. That's why LinkedIn is booming, and why all job seekers should be actively involved on the site, engaging with other professionals, joining and participating in groups and showing their expertise and value in their field.
Want more reasons to be on LinkedIn? One recruiter told me the first place she looks after receiving a résumé from a potential candidate is on LinkedIn for their profile. I also know another job seeker who didn't even need to send in a résumé to earn a job interview — because the person hiring for the position said he learned all he needed to know about him through LinkedIn.
"LinkedIn works as your personal billboard, advertising your value to potential employees," says Sue Way of St. Paul-based CareerToolBoxUSA (www.careertoolboxusa.com), a career and executive coaching company that also helps clients develop, build and grow their online profiles through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
How can you grow your LinkedIn profile and stand out? Take these steps, says Way:
• Add a professional picture.
• Put together a clearly stated branding message.
• Develop a thorough portrayal of your experience, focusing on accomplishments.
• Add keywords appropriate to the jobs/careers you want to target.
• Add samples or certifications of your work, showing your expertise and credentials.
• Receive recommendations and endorsements.
A survey by TheLadders, a careers website, indicated that just like a résumé, a poorly developed LinkedIn profile can reflect negatively on you. You need to take the time to create and develop your profile, says Way. Then you must update and maintain it for it to be effective.