Your Online Brand: LinkedIn, or Just another Pretty Facebook?

Career DevelopmentJob SearchNetworkingPersonal Branding

Social media is all the rage. Even Fortune500 companies, who are always on the trailing edge of technology, are getting into it. How about you? Is your personal brand supported well by your social media footprint and activities, or not? There are dozens of social media sites, but I will be limiting this post to the two that have the broadest impact on most people’s personal brands.

It has been my experience that LinkedIn offers the greatest online opportunity to build your brand, whereas Facebook offers the greatest online opportunity to subvert your brand. I say this because you can control virtually 100% of your brand messaging on LinkedIn and it is business focused, whereas your Facebook brand messaging tends to be more crowdsourced and the site is not business focused. Employers tend to use Facebook to identify potentially negative information. For these reasons, I recommend job seekers keep Facebook as sanitized as possible and focus their brand-building efforts on LinkedIn. This post emphasizes the latter.

During my early days as a job search consultant back in 2003, someone told me about a new web site called LinkedIn. I logged on and started searching to see who was on it. I found there was a disproportionate number of recruiters present. It appeared that recruiters were establishing themselves on LinkedIn with the hope that the site would attract business contacts and evolve into a new platform for finding job candidates. So, I joined the site and began building my network of recruiters and other contacts. Fast forwarding to 2013, the site has grown to over 200 million users, it has become one of the premier online recruiting resources, and my three-level network has expanded to more than 30 million contacts. Today, over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to identify job candidates and roughly 50% of all site revenues are derived from recruiters.

Here are some excerpts from Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!) regarding expanding your visibility and enhancing your personal brand on LinkedIn:

“Find someone who is very experienced with LinkedIn and ask them to help you optimize your profile with keywords and other desirable content.”
“Send requests to your contacts for recommendations … Five or six is a useful minimum.”
“Search Groups by keywords … Decide which groups you want to join and apply for membership.”
“Consider reaching out to people within professions, metro areas, etc. with whom fostering good relationships would be wise.”
“Occasionally, post a question that is relevant to your industry and/or profession.”

LinkedIn can help you get a better job and get it sooner. It can help you build your online personal brand while increasing your visibility with recruiters and hiring managers. But, you must learn the system and invest the necessary effort. Invest five hours per week of your job search time in these areas and you will stand to reap rewards.

What are your experiences using LinkedIn during your job search? Have you found it to be helpful, or not? I would love to hear your comments!


Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).