The job search process has changed significantly in the last decade, largely due to the presence of LinkedIn. Designed to be a professional networking platform, LinkedIn allows users to search for jobs and identify companies of interest. It also allows employers to seek out impressive candidates for specific roles. This has resulted in a different way of applying for a job and encouraging job seekers to take a less passive role when job-searching. Instead of waiting for a job advertisement to be listed, a job seeker can now actively find ways to engage with a firm of choice, show their interest and apply for a role when it comes up.
Here are some ways on how you can use LinkedIn to proactively seek out a job of your choice.
1. Be seen - Build up your personal profile.
Recruiters and hiring managers are known to look up a candidate’s profile before shortlisting them for an interview. Sometimes, if the LinkedIn profile does not match the resume or job application, candidates may lose their chance to be shortlisted.
There are various key elements in your profile that you should take note of:
a) Profile Photo – use a photo that you might use for a resume. Make sure it is clear and conveys an image of you being ‘approachable and professional’
b) Headline –the default tagline used is your current/ last job title. If you are seeking new opportunities, you can change your headline to be more eye-catching. One option is to state the job role you want to go into e.g. ‘Partnerships manager’ or ‘Creative strategist’. You can also state your intention e.g. “Seeking a sales & marketing position”. The idea is for the headline to show clearly what your interests, skills or career aspirations are
c) Summary – limited to 2000 characters, this section should integrate keywords (used by employers) that bring attention to your skills and experience. You can upload presentations or reference third party web addresses (such as blog posts, interviews, etc) that support your credibility
d) Professional experience – Lead this section with results and outcomes achieved in each of your past work experiences. Rather than just state your day-to-day duties, this is where you distinguish yourself as being better than other job seekers. Choose to use bullet points if it makes this section clearer.
e) Skills and Endorsements – Choose skills that you have had experience with before – and the endorsement by your peers or superiors will add credibility to your professional worth
f) Recommendations – reach out to ex-colleagues, past employers, clients, vendors or even school project mates to get their recommendations for you. Their testimonials in this section can add credibility to your professional standing. Ask them to vouch for how you added value to a project, process or a team
g) Projects – this section is sometimes neglected; however, this is a great space for you to bring awareness to work done outside of your day job. Sometimes these projects can zoom in on skills that you have, which were only showcased outside of work, via volunteer activities, hobbies or even inter-department assignments. Use this section to increase your portfolio of ‘talents’ to potential employers.
2. Show your interest
If you are keen to join a particular firm or industry, take some time to research their company pages on LinkedIn. Remember to follow their page, as many firms will update about available roles, from time to time. In addition, status updates on the company page will also provide you with the knowledge that comes in handy when answering interview questions.
From the company page, you can also identify who the key decision-makers of the firm are. Following their personal pages or profiles and engaging in relevant, meaningful conversations via comments on their posts will also indicate your interest in their firm and industry.
3. Build your network
LinkedIn is a social network, hence use it to grow your own network of professional contacts. These contacts are long-term and not just for immediate job placements. Take time to build up this network – as it represents people that you trust. This network also provides job security, even during challenging times. By tapping on your network to ask for recommendations or introductions to a job or opportunity, you speed up the job search process for yourself.
Experts recommend that you hit the magical number of “50 connections” (which often includes ex-colleagues, clients, classmates, vendors, professors, friends and even family). With at least 50 contacts, you can further expand your network. Strategically for job-seeking purposes, you can also build relationships with recruiters and hiring managers by reaching out to them and adding them to your network (if they approve). Through mutual contacts (indicated by ‘people you have in common), you can ask them to introduce you to recruiters that might be looking for candidates with similar profiles to yours.
Your professional network stays with you, so when you are building this up, think long-term. Not every connection may be someone that can support your professional goals immediately. However, in the long-term, there may be ways to collaborate or enhance each other’s career paths. More importantly, as this is a network, try to maintain a “win-win” approach when reaching out to new contacts to connect. Ask yourself – what can you also offer them in return? This usually creates a more positive experience and you are likely to have a connection that is willing to engage with you more.
4. Seek out options
LinkedIn’s job listing portal is very active. Like all job portals, you can search for jobs daily and make use of the filters that support your preferences for an ideal job. Employers increasingly use LinkedIn to filter out successful applicants, so take some time.
5. Life-long learning
Beyond job-seeking, LinkedIn can also be used to highlight your learning preferences. Very often, employers look for job applicants that display a desire to learn new things. One way to highlight this ‘love for learning' is by tapping on LinkedIn Learning. Every time you complete an online course, it will reflect on your profile. For those job seekers who lack prior work experiences in a specific area, completing a learning course in that particular skill/ competency/ area of interest, will help to convey the message to potential employers that you have some knowledge and a strong desire to learn more.
6. Be engaged
Most people set up their profiles and rarely update LinkedIn thereafter until they are in desperate need of a job change. LinkedIn is a wonderful platform to build up your personal professional brand. It takes time and effort to put across what your ‘brand’ is. Rather than relying solely on your profile, engage with others in your network regularly. Regular engagement may not get you a job directly, but it can help open doors and get you on people’s radars. Like and leave relevant comments on people’s posts, share meaningful articles that you have read or liked – these are all ways to make you more visible and memorable. However, be aware that you should always remain positive in your comments and not leave a negative impression. What you post online speaks volume about who you really are. Post with intention. Repost with caution.
“A huge number of jobs that are filled are never advertised to the public, or if they are, they’re filled by people who have a connection to the employer.”― Melanie Pinola. This quote sums up how LinkedIn has become an essential platform to leverage on, when applying for jobs, changing jobs and building up your own career path. Use it wisely and you will be able to reap its benefits for a long time.
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