One of the most important ways that LinkedIn has benefitted people is how it improves their job search experience. Before LinkedIn, a job search involved making lots of phone calls and visits (and sending some emails) to people you know, asking them whether they knew anybody who was hiring, somebody at Company X who might talk to you, or something else related to your search. LinkedIn has improved this tedious and inefficient process.
However, LinkedIn hasn’t replaced the entire process. You still need to hold some face-to-face meetings and to make phone calls, but LinkedIn can help you find the right person before you pick up the phone. One of the most potent aspects of LinkedIn and a job search is the speed with which you can connect with people and find opportunities.
In this article, I discuss some of the ways that you can use LinkedIn to help find a job, whether you’re an active job seeker (I need a job right now!) or a passive job seeker (I don’t mind where I’m working, but if the right opportunity comes along, I’m listening).
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How To Search for a Job Opening on Linkedin
LinkedIn offers a few different ways that can help you look for a job. The most direct way is to search for open positions on the LinkedIn job board. After all, someone is getting hired when a company runs a job listing, so why can’t that candidate be you? When you search for a job on LinkedIn, you can see what skills seem attractive to companies these days and then keep those skills in mind as you refine your job search and LinkedIn profile.
When you’re ready to search for a job opening, follow these steps:
- Click the Jobs icon in the top navigation bar.
- In the left search box below the Search for Your Next Job header, enter keywords describing the job you want. The Search box contains Search by title, skill, or company.
- To limit your search to a particular location, fill in the second text box. Indicate the city, state, and postal code or country where you want the job to be located.
- Click the Search button.
- If you want to refine your job results, enter additional keywords in the Search box or use the filters just below the box. You can sort your results by most relevant or most recent and refine results by using the following filters: Date Posted, LinkedIn Features, Company, and Experience Level. Or click All Filters and refine your results from the screen that appears.
- Click a job title to see the details of the posting. A detailed write-up appears in the right pane of the window, where you can find out more about the job (and in some cases, the job poster) before deciding whether to apply.
- When you see a job you want to apply for, click the Apply button (or the Easy Apply button, depending on the employer).
- Click the Submit Application button. Off your application goes!
When you see a job posting that you like, scroll down to the Similar Jobs section. LinkedIn shows you jobs from other companies that are similar to the one you’re viewing so you can compare positions.
10 Best Tips To Use LinkedIn to Get a Job
1. Optimizing your profile
The core of your LinkedIn presence is your profile, which is attached to every job application you make. You should optimize your LinkedIn profile to make it as attractive as possible to prospective employers when applying for a job.
As you bulk up your profile for a job search, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Fill out all sections of your profile with accurate information. The length of your LinkedIn profile is entirely up to you, unlike a resume. You never know what part of your profile will appear in someone’s search results, but the more information you provide, the better chance of being found.
- Focus on accomplishments rather than duties. Employers want to know the results of what you’ve done, and a concrete example will help them learn more.
- Fill out your profile with all relevant job search keywords, skill sets, and buzzwords. A prospective employer may search for candidates based on a core set of skills when looking for candidates. Therefore, stating your job titles alone is not sufficient. If your profile says “Software Developer,” prospective hiring managers may assume you’re qualified, but they can only consider you if they run a search on those keywords. Let’s say a hiring manager is looking for programming languages such as C++, Java, Perl, and Python. Your profile won’t show up if none of those keywords appear somewhere in it.
- Use an appropriate and professional profile photo. This has been said before, but it’s worth repeating: LinkedIn is designed to allow you to network professionally, and your profile photo plays a big role in that.
- List all your job experiences in your profile, not just full-time positions. LinkedIn profiles should reflect all your work experiences, not just full-time jobs that provide W-2s. Document any work experience that adds value to your profile, regardless of whether you were paid.
2. Connect with former managers, co-workers, and partners.
This might seem like an obvious strategy, but let me elaborate. Part of getting the job is communicating (to your future employer) your ability to do the job. Nobody knows your skills, potential, work attitude, and capability better than people who have worked with you and observed you in action.
Therefore, make sure you’ve connected with your former managers, co-workers, and so on. When these people are part of your network, the introductions they can facilitate will carry extra weight because they can share their experience with the person you want to meet.
You can encourage them to provide referrals so you can express to the entire community your capability and work ethic.
3. Look at your colleagues’ LinkedIn profiles.
Using the search functions or your first-degree connections in your network, try to find people with goals and work experience similar to yours. When you see how they describe their work experience in their profiles, you might get some good ideas on how to augment your profile.
Look at profiles of LinkedIn members who hold the job title you are seeking.
One of LinkedIn’s newest features for employers is the ability to find job candidates based on an ideal employee, who is typically the person currently holding the job they want to fill. LinkedIn searches for candidates based on the profile an employer selects as the model.
Therefore, study the profiles of people doing similar work to see what keywords, skills, and other elements they put in their profile that may be applicable to yours.
4. Get referrals from past bosses and co-workers.
After you add past bosses and co-workers to your network, keep in contact with them, letting them know your current job search goals and asking for an appropriate referral or introduction.
They can use their knowledge of your work history and their expanded networks to make more powerful introductions or requests than just a friend asking another friend, “Hey, can you hire my friend, Joel?”
Don’t be afraid to provide extra information to your past bosses or co-workers to help them make an effective referral. Before the Internet, when job seekers asked a past boss or co-worker to write a letter of recommendation, it was acceptable to include some bullet points you hoped they would cover in their letters.
The same is true in the LinkedIn world. Guide your contact to emphasize a work quality or an anecdote that would be effective in the referral or introduction.
5. Collect your recommendations.
Nothing communicates a vote of confidence from your network quite like a recommendation. When anyone reads your LinkedIn profile, he can see exactly what other people have said about you. Because he knows that you can’t alter a recommendation, he’s more likely to trust the content and believe you’re the right person for the job.
6. Find people with the same or similar job
If you’re looking for a specific job, remember that the people doing a similar job know the most about the job you’re interested in. Although these people might not have hiring authority, they can help give you the right perspective, share the right insider tips about what the job truly entails, and let you know what skills or background the hiring manager considered when they were hired.
Because these people are already employed and not your direct competition, they’re more likely to offer help and advice. They have practical knowledge of what it takes to do the job and what qualities will best help someone succeed in that position.
When you’re ready to implement this strategy, keep these points in mind:
- Perform an advanced search for people with a similar job title as the one you’re applying for. Put the job title in either the keywords section or the title section.
- Narrow and clarify your search by industry. For example, Project Manager of Software Development is different from Project Manager for the Construction industry. Choose multiple industries if they are similar enough.
- When you find someone who has a job title you’d like to have, see whether she’s interested in meeting. Ask for an informational interview or, if she is outside your geographic area, a phone conversation. Asking outright for a job lead will most likely not result in anything positive.
7. Leverage connections from alumni association groups of any school you attended.
Take advantage of your alumni status and try to connect and work with people who went to one of the same schools as you.
Go to the university page(s) in LinkedIn for your defined educational outlet by searching for your school on LinkedIn. From here, you can search the alumni, see the most popular companies that hire these alumni, and learn other key facts.
From the top navigation bar, type your alma mater in the Search box, and when the drop-down list appears, click All Results. From that results screen, click the Groups button below the Search box.
When the refined search results appear, search and join any alumni LinkedIn groups for schools you attended. These LinkedIn groups give you access to their member list, so you can see other alumni, regardless of graduation year, and communicate with them.
Your shared alumni status helps open the door, but don’t expect a handout right away. Be ready to offer one of your contacts in exchange for a former classmate’s help or consideration.
8. Follow your target companies
LinkedIn allows you to follow companies through their Company page. When you know what companies you want to follow, simply enter their name in the text box in the top navigation bar, press Enter, and then click Companies.
When you find the company in the results list, click the Follow button next to the company listing.
After you are following all your target companies, review each Company page weekly for news, information, job openings, and useful contacts.
9. Look for connections to the job poster.
When searching for a job, pay attention to job listings where the job poster is a second- or third-degree network member.
You can click the link of the job poster to see who in your extended network can refer you directly to the employee who posted that job.
10. Consider getting a Job Seeker premium account on LinkedIn.
When you upgrade to a Job Seeker premium account, you get extra tools to help you find that next job. Any job application that you submit through LinkedIn will show you with Featured Applicant Status, so your name will sit above non premium members who applied to the same job.
You will have a full view of who looked at your LinkedIn profile in the last 90 days and how they arrived at your profile page, which can come in handy when you reach out to communicate with them. (After all, they showed interest in looking for you by searching and looking at your profile page.)
You also get credit towards InMail messaging, so you can reach out to LinkedIn members who aren’t connected to you. There are other features as well, so check it out!