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  • 3 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Build Your Career

    Build Career photo from ShutterstockIn a world where social media allows us to connect with almost everyone in the free world instantaneously, one platform dominates the professional networking space. Its name? LinkedIn.

    By now, most people in the professional world have heard of LinkedIn. Job seekers know it can help them find a career, but many don’t know how to maximize their use of the platform. This hurts their chances of standing out to the almost 50 percent of companies that solely use it in their social recruiting practices.

    When employers look for potential candidates on LinkedIn, there are a multitude of ways they narrow down the pool. Check out these three tips to help you get the most out of your LinkedIn profile, increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters, and become a better proactive job seeker. (NOTE: While this isn’t a guide for enhancing your actual LinkedIn profile, you can find information on how to do so here.)

    Apply for jobs

    LinkedIn not only connects people in order to build their network, but also it allows you to find and apply for jobs directly through the site! Just like any other job board, you can search for the exact job you want and discover employers from around the world. The benefit for job searching through LinkedIn: it allows employers and job seekers near-instant access to connect and gather information about each other, and gives candidates more insight into the company and its employees.

    If you make a list of companies you want to work for (which you should, if you haven’t), LinkedIn lets you follow the company pages of those that have one. On those pages, companies often exclusively post jobs, since they know it will reach people who have already vested interest in their organization by following them in the first place. This gives you access to positions you never would have known existed and also lets you engage/connect with employees in those organizations.

    When you apply for a job on LinkedIn, it’s important to read the entire job posting. Doing so lets you get a feel for what exactly they’re seeking so you can tailor your application specifically to the posting.

    Since the LinkedIn application system only lets you attach a resume when applying, many companies give specific instructions for how they want candidates to apply in order to get more information. By not doing so, you’re probably not going to get considered for the job, since they now know you just blindly applied without following the application instructions.

    Also, don’t just apply to every job posting because it’s so easy — chances are, it won’t get noticed.

    Engage in groups

    For whatever industry you’re trying to get hired in, LinkedIn has dozens — if not hundreds — of groups specific to the job you’re after. The members of these groups share articles and trends, prompt insightful discussions, and even post job openings in their organizations. This offers a myriad of different avenues for you to display your industry knowledge, stand out from the competition, and network with valuable, influential connections.

    To get started, visit the ‘Groups’ section on LinkedIn. Then, type the name of the job or industry you’re looking to get into. Find groups that are active (and post non-spammy messages) and join the ones that interest you. Explore each group, learn the rules, and introduce yourself to the community.

    Frequently post interesting industry articles you find and provoke a discussion, or ask smart questions about the industry with the intention of sparking a conversation. Do this enough times and you’ll be considered a ‘Top Contributor’ in the group, which allows you to be more visible to recruiters, and regarded as more influential in the community.

    With some groups, you have to be approved by a moderator before you can join. While these groups are tougher to get into, they often offer much more value and industry-specific insights to their members. Private groups are also more sought out by recruiters, since they offer a more relevant, specific pool of candidates from which to choose.

    If a recruiter posts a job you’re interested in, you should do more than just apply for it. Shoot them a message and connection request letting them know you applied, or even ask them for tips and advice before you send out the application. Doing this increases your visibility and shows you have a proactive spirit in the eyes of the hiring manager.

    Update your status often

    When they look at your LinkedIn profile, part of what employers want to see is that you are passionate about the industry and are capable of performing the skills required of the job. They do that directly by reading your profile, but also indirectly by seeing what you post and engage with after they connect with you.

    If you’re an active job seeker, chances are you’re currently on top of the latest trends and news in your industry. Updating your LinkedIn status with the links to the articles you read — along with a discussion-provoking question or message — is the perfect way for employers to know just how in-tune you are with the business.

    If you have unique opinions on a certain facet of your industry, it might even behoove you to write them down in your own blog post. Subsequently sharing your article on LinkedIn, through both status update and posting in groups, is a fantastic way to get noticed by industry leaders, and also boost credibility in your personal brand.

    (BONUS) Read articles

    LinkedIn recently added a feature called Pulse that compiles news and articles specifically catered to what you want. This lets you stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends —  as well as get valuable job search and career advice — all in one place!

    How do you use LinkedIn to enhance your job search?

    Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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    Posted in Job Search, Networking, Personal Branding, Skill Development, Workplace Success
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