The last few years have brought quite a change in the ways people look for and apply for jobs, and in the way that employers post jobs and seek out new employees. Unfortunately, there’s somewhat of a disconnect between how employers seek out talent and how the unemployed believe that employers seek talent, and that makes finding a job a very difficult prospect. How do I know this? Well, for one thing, I have a great job and I’m not looking for work or searching the job boards in any way, and yet I have never received so many job nibbles from prospective employers than I have in the last couple of years. Companies have become tired of the giant stack of resumes they receive from posting the job that’s available, and instead are seeking out the talent they want… on LinkedIn. Which is where you should be spending your job hunting time.
1. Summarize Your Experience and Your Skills
Once you have a profile set up, and have added a professional looking photo, you need to put your employment history in date order like a resume. Then it’s time for the important step of creating a summary. While this is optional, it’s going to be the way to really make your profile stand out. It’s where you summarize what makes your skills and talent something that an employer might want on their team. You may want to ask the help of a writer for this, as this is kind of like a sales page for you and your skills.
2. Make as Many Contacts as You Can
The more than job hunting has gone online over the last 20 years, the more that the basics of human interaction have become even more important. In other words, a personal recommendation will still always put you at the top of the resume pile faster than any skill set or experience you may have on it. This means you need to reconnect with all of your old business contacts that you can. LinkedIn has a process of letting them use your email contacts to locate them, or you can search for them by name. And once you’ve found a few, oftentimes those contacts will have more contacts that you know, so you can use the recommendation feature to link to them. Once you’ve reconnected, feel free to drop each one of them a personal note, telling them that’s it great to reconnect with them, and that you’re currently looking for work. Maybe one of them knows of a job you might be interested in. If you have a long work history, it’s also possible that a previous employer would love to have you back. Companies love to rehire employees who have left, because they know exactly what they’re getting.
3. Join and Contribute to Groups
The way to make new connections is by joining groups that are in your field(s). Groups are full of people asking questions about problems they have in your line of business, or just chatting about things they’ve seen. It’s essentially the watercooler of the online business world, and it applies as well to construction workers as it does to file clerks. Once you’ve been accepted to a group, start joining in the conversations that are happening and start networking.
4. Give Advice
Once you’ve gotten comfortable in LinkedIn Groups, you can start conversations of your own. Remember: people prefer to reply to a question rather than a statement, and people like to share their opinions of what they’ve seen and heard. Ask people what they think, and you’ll get a lot of engagement.
Your goal here is twofold. One, you’ll meet and interact with a lot of new people in your profession, and start messaging them and adding them to your contacts once you’ve had an interaction or two. When you’ve become contacts, you can feel free to let them know you are looking for work, and if they hear anything to please let you know. Two, when you contribute a lot in your group by starting new discussions, you move up the chart to become a Top Influencer. LinkedIn rewards people who start engaging discussions by naming you as a weekly Top Influencer when your discussions merit a lot of engagement. The more your name appears at the top, the more people will click on you to see who you are – including potential employers.
In addition to engaging all these people, young and old, in your job search, and maybe sending them a tickler every couple of months if you’re still out of work, the Groups also include job listings! So the very people who are watching you to see how interesting you are in your Groups, are posting jobs to the members of those groups, making LinkedIn one of the most underused ways of finding a job, but also the most effective. Which is why that’s where the employers are hanging out, and where you should be too.