LinkedIn is, by far, the number one social network geared strictly towards business professionals. While it is a great place to network, meet people, and find jobs, it is also your electronic resume. What users need to understand is that it is more than a business networking site. Your LinkedIn profile can go a long way towards giving you an edge in your job search. On the same note, it can also kill it if you aren’t using it correctly.
In conducting a job search, I personally use LinkedIn in many ways. However, for the purpose of this post, let’s say that I am a recruiter and have posted a job outside of LinkedIn and am collecting resumes from various sources.
Are You on LinkedIn?
Once I have a number of resumes that pique my interest, I check the candidates on LinkedIn before I even call them on the phone. Are you on there? You need to be on LinkedIn if you are in the job market, because you better bet your competitors are!
Some hiring managers do not do this. Some do. The thing is, you don’t know which ones do and which ones don’t. Be safe, and be on there.
Does Your Resume Match Your Profile?
Once I land on your profile, I will check the LinkedIn version of your resume and compare it to the one that was sent to me. Do they match?
It is simply amazing how many candidates’ LinkedIn profiles do not match their resumes! When I see discrepancies, I toss out the candidate. If you have a LinkedIn profile, make sure jobs, dates, job descriptions, and education information match up to whatever you write on your resume.
Also, post your picture in your profile. It matters, and is part of your personal brand. Show that you are aware of and care about your online image.
Do You Have Recommendations?
The most important thing I look at on LinkedIn is the person’s recommendations. If you are in the job market, the single most important thing you can do with your LinkedIn profile is to have several glowing recommendations.
Yes, it is true that most people only ask people for endorsements if they know they will say good things. This is the same rule that applies when you list references in your resume. Still, it is good to know that someone holds the candidate in high regard.
In the days before LinkedIn, employers checked references after a job interview. Today, with LinkedIn, references may be part of the decision to even bring a candidate in for a job interview.
Many LinkedIn users have recommendations on their profile. If I have ten great resumes in my hand but only plan to call in five for interviews, I will check your LinkedIn profile. If you are one without recommendations and seven others have great ones, that is a huge plus for them and a huge minus for you and will likely eliminate you.
Alternatively, if you have 15 recommendations from coworkers on your LinkedIn profile and another candidate has four, but two of them are from people who managed them, that gives them an edge over you.
Are Your Recommendations From the Right People?
Recommendations from people who have managed (or taught) you, directly or indirectly, carry more weight than 10 coworkers’ recommendations. Hiring managers know that these recommendations could be from 10 of your closest friends. Hiring managers want to hear from people who have managed you in the past.
The job titles of the people who endorse you matter as well. Try for a good mix (managers, coworkers, clients) but keep in mind that higher level employee endorsements are stronger endorsements.
Realistically, you really only need three to five recommendations (as long as you have one or two manager recommendations in there). Ideally, two to three recommendations per job is sufficient. You should probably go back about 5-10 years.
Do You Talk on LinkedIn?
Are you active on LinkedIn? Do you post updates on yourself? Are you answering questions for others and participating in group discussions?
If you are, and I am considering you as a candidate, I will search you and read what you write. You must always keep that in mind when using LinkedIn. Participating in discussions on a high level can really boost your chances of getting an interview or getting a job. The opposite is true as well.
Does the Number of Connections I Have Matter?
Not really. Ideally, if you are applying for a sales, marketing, or other related position, it would be good to see that you have many connections. However, quality matters more than quantity. Having 20,000 connections (in my opinion) is too many.
The number of connections a candidate has is of least importance to me – UNLESS you have 5,000 connections and no recommendations. That looks odd. A person with 40 connections and 4 recommendations is more impressive to me.
As with any social networking site, you must be smart about how you use it – especially if you are in the job market. You must consider your LinkedIn profile as a part of your resume. If you are honest, have some glowing recommendations, and are participating intelligently, LinkedIn can be the magic key in your job search.
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Jessica Simko is a seasoned senior level Human Resources professional with over 15 years of experience in all facets of Human Resources Management. She is a Freelance Writer and Entrepreneur specializing in career/ life coaching and social media. Connect with her on: