LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with professionals and grow your network. It is not however, a replacement for traditional job search methods. Find out why below.
Dear Matt: Everyone I talk to says you have to be on LinkedIn. Why is it important and how can it benefit my career search? Should I include my LinkedIn profile on my résumé?
Matt: LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is one of the most highly used and respected professional networking tools on the Web. It's an excellent resource for exchanging information, opportunities and ideas, and a great way to connect with professionals and expand your network. Since networking is so important in today's job search, the ability of LinkedIn to connect you to so many professional resources is what helps make it so powerful.
However, I caution, do not use LinkedIn as a replacement for traditional job search strategies (such as in place of a résumé or cover letter) or rely solely on a LinkedIn profile to help you find a new job. Instead, use it as a tool to find prospective employers or professionals to network with, says Tony B. Nelson, president of TBN Consulting, LLC, a Minneapolis search firm for professionals within the marketing profession (www.tbnconsulting.biz/).
If you're applying for a job, do not include your LinkedIn profile in your résumé. Why? Because "your LinkedIn profile is also connected to hundreds of other candidates who could also do the job - possibly better than you," says Nelson. "Why would you want to send a prospective employer to your competition?"
So, how can LinkedIn benefit you? It connects you with people who know people, says Caroline Melberg, co-founder and CEO of Wayzata-based Small Business Mavericks (www.SmallBusiness Mavericks.com). So much of today's job search is about who you know. By developing and formulating relationships and contacts through LinkedIn, you can find out about and/or get information from a contact about a company, industry or trends in your field.
"Ask your connections for introductions to the people they know at those companies," says Melberg, who gives presentations on how to best use LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great tool to stay in front of your target market whether you're in a job search or not, says Nelson.
"The old adage `out of sight, out of mind' is very true when employers are seeking new employees," says Nelson. "LinkedIn provides a great vehicle for someone to stay in front of prospective employers at all times, similar to the Yellow Pages - but specifically for business professionals."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.