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Using LinkedIn to Supercharge Your Job Search

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Using LinkedIn to Supercharge Your Job Search

Greg Jackson

A quick Google search on the phrase "how to search for a job" yields approximately 348,000 results and, without reading through each of them, I am confident they all provide a modicum of good practical advice. However, one fact remains as true today as it has throughout the ages: When it comes to landing your next job, it’s all about your network. The better you are at making and nurturing your connections online and in person, the more likely you are to find a new opportunity that is right for you.

With this in mind, let’s begin with the fundamentals of recruiting. There are two basic methods of recruiting:

1. Post and pray – where the recruiter posts the recruiting assignment on multiple job boards and then prays that someone applies.
2. Active sourcing – where the recruiter actively networks and searches for potential candidates. While there are benefits to both, the preferred approach involves combining the two methods in a 25/75 ratio where post and pray is used primarily for brand promotion and awareness, and active sourcing is used to identify the target candidate and fill the position.

Typically there are three key players in every recruiting assignment:

1. The hiring manager – responsible for the hiring decision.
2. The recruiter – responsible for identifying potential candidates.
3. The potential candidates – anyone who is qualified for and can perform the requirements associated with the job.

How Companies Hire

Let’s take an example (oversimplified, in the interest of expedience) of a Chief People Officer for a Fortune 500 company who needs to hire a Vice President of Recruiting. In this example the key players will be the hiring manager (Chief People Officer), recruiter (representative from a large reputable executive search firm), and the potential candidates (individuals presently holding the roles of Director or Vice President of Recruiting in comparably sized organizations).

On receiving the recruiting assignment from the hiring manager, the recruiter will post the position to key target sites (i.e., ERE, LinkedIn, and Twitter) and conduct extensive research through a number of different sources (i.e., Hoovers, Jigsaw, and LinkedIn) in order to develop a list of candidates that could potentially qualify for the position or know someone else that may.

Once the list has been built and the candidates’ qualifications initially assessed, the recruiter will begin contacting each of the candidates to share the position and inquire as to whether they or someone in their network would have an interest in exploring the opportunity further. The individuals initially contacted by the recruiter will then share the recruiting assignment with their networks — and their networks will share with their networks and so on and so on — until the ideal candidate has been identified and hired.

How LinkedIn Factors into The Equation

Now, let’s assume I am in the market for a new employment opportunity. In light of the example recruiting assignment and my personal employment background, I would be a strong candidate for and interested in this opportunity. However, as the recruiter’s search parameters would likely consist of all individuals presently or recently holding the roles of Director or Vice President of Recruiting or Talent Acquisition in a Fortune 500 organization — and therefore produce 1,000+ potential candidates—it is unlikely that I would be contacted by the recruiter.

With this in mind, how would I learn about the opportunity, get my resume in front of the right people and potentially become a candidate for this opportunity? This is where LinkedIn comes into play.

When You Have a Large LinkedIn Network

If you have built a large LinkedIn network of relevant professional contacts (executives in positions that your role would most likely report to, recruiters who specialize in placing candidates in your field, and colleagues who hold roles similar to yours/roles that you are interested in) you would send each of them a personalized message through LinkedIn.

This message should inform them that you are in the process of searching for a new opportunity and request that they keep you in mind should they have or become aware of such an opportunity. By taking this approach, there is a very strong likelihood that you will either contact someone who is looking to hire people like you, someone who is looking for people like you for a current recruiting assignment, or someone who is receiving calls from recruiters that they can refer you to.

How to Build a Relevant Network

If however, you have a very small or highly irrelevant LinkedIn network, you must now begin the process of building your professional network. In light of the amount of research and personalization required to maximize your chances of having your invitations accepted, the process of building a LinkedIn network can be slow and time consuming, which is why I strongly encourage people to continually build on their professional networks – just remember ABC (Always Be Connecting). That said my approach to building a relevant professional network that is capable of connecting you with your dream job is as follows:

Ensure your profile is 100% complete – include a photo and recommendations.

Use a relevant/catchy profile title – Connecting Talent with Opportunity at Massive Scale.

Create a compelling summary – how can you help a potential employer drive their business forward.

Utilize groups – join industry/professionally relevant groups, participate in group discussions, share information, etc.

Create polls on LinkedIn or the groups you belong to – what is the most challenging…you have ever worked on.

Follow companies – follow your company, your companies competitors, and target companies.

Update personal status on a weekly basis – helps to keep your name in the forefront.

Install LinkedIn Social Connector for Outlook – get more info about your important contacts, see what they're doing, and stay in touch.

Install the LinkedIn mobile app – allows you to stay connected and in touch even when on the go.

Develop a connection request template that you will personalize and send to potential connections when inviting them to join your network – a personalized invite is preferred over the canned LinkedIn invite and will reap greater acceptances.

Search the membership of the groups you have joined to identify relevant contacts to invite to connect.

Develop a connection acceptance follow-up templateethat you will personalize and send to everyone that accepts your invitation to thank them for doing so.

Distribute your resume to your network – consider paying to have your resume professionally developed so those in your network feel comfortable/unembarrassed distributing it to their networks – having been in recruiting for 20+ years everyone assumes that I write my own resume however doing so is akin to an attorney representing themselves in a legal proceeding and we’re all familiar with the cliché related to that.

Read More: LinkedIn Professional Networking Site | How to Get Started on LinkedIn | How to Use LinkedIn | How to Job Search on LinkedIn

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