By Eileen Ramos
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile then get one today! It’s like Facebook but strictly professional and with no time sucking game applications. It’s one of the most underused yet most effective internet tools that we have in our arsenal, plus it’s free (for the basic level at least). In fact, it’s the first place employers look for candidates before they post up job listings. And it’s how people meet other professionals. It is easy to set up, just enter your email address and list all the schools you’ve attended and companies where you’ve worked. Be sure to fill out the profile completely, list all your industry-related achievements (building that super beer bong doesn’t apply here) and professional associations in which you are active. Also, make sure to add a good high-res picture. Trust me, it can only help you; people trust professionals whose faces they can see. If you really aren’t comfortable with showing your face, add a logo—but make it something memorable that defines you as a professional. Upload your resume and most of your experience will be auto-populated for you. Done!
It’s a fact that most jobs are found through networking (41% in 2010 according to Right Management reports Forbes) as opposed to recruiters and internet job boards so be sure to use the social network of LinkedIn. You can find contacts through your schools, jobs, where you volunteer, and elsewhere. They will even scour your email account for any addresses that are in LinkedIn to help you increase your connections.
Let’s say you want to work as an Editorial Assistant for Simon & Schuster, Inc. You found the listing on LinkedIn and it says that there is a second connection under the job offer. You look at that profile and see that your friend is connected to him. You then message your friend and ask them to introduce you to this connection. Bingo, your friend introduces you and you start conversing with that person. Not on the first conversation, but a few chats later you ask them to put in a good word for you on your application with Simon & Schuster. Your new professional connection does just that and your resume floats to the top of the pile, beating out all the others. And guess what? You get the job! Isn’t social networking wonderful?
Another great feature is that you can get written referrals on your profile. They’re like mini recommendations that can run for two to three lines. Just ask your professors, employers, and whoever else with a great opinion of you to type out a quick endorsement for you. They stay on your profile forever; your prospective employers can view them online or you can simply print them out as part of your application package for your next job interview. It is a great way to market yourself and show off as a great employee.
The more you participate in LinkedIn, the more connections you’ll make and improve your chances of getting hired. Join groups like your alma mater’s alumni group or some of the tons of other professional organizations. And be sure to participate in the discussions, you never know who will be able to give you some great opportunities. Also, link your professional twitter with your LinkedIn profile and you’ll be able to find new followers and contacts. You never know who you will attract with your industrial posts, so try it!