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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Using LinkedIn and Your Job Search

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...   Image via CrunchBase
An Reach Out Job Search Guest Post
By Maria Rainier

As unemployment remains high, and rates show no sign of improving any time soon, it has become increasingly important to use every tool at your disposal to build a professional network to remain abreast of future employment opportunities -- or to find a job if you have become one of the millions of unemployed workers. 

LinkedIn is a popular social networking site that has become a valuable tool in the contemporary job search. No, you won't find virtual farms or pictures of your high-school classmate's babies on the site. But you will find the profiles of managers and recruiters at many of the top companies in your industry, as well as employees at each of the Fortune 500 companies.

Using the site effectively in your job search requires more than setting up a profile and watching the job offers come rolling in. Here are a few tips for how to get the most out of the site when you're ready to start your next job search:

Start Using It Before You Need It

Don't wait until you're unemployed before you create a profile and send out the alarm that you're looking for work. Set up a complete profile with a professional headshot (it doesn't have to be taken by a professional -- it just has to make you look professional), job history, relevant key words (so recruiters can find you), and a bit about yourself. Become acquainted with the site and learn how to use the advanced features, such as filtering your connections and searching for openings. By the time you are ready to look for a job, you won't have to waste time becoming acquainted with the site.

Build Your Network

Start by sending connections to all of your current and former co-workers. Then send them to friends and family. LinkedIn isn't there for you to check in on what your friends did this weekend, but adding your friends and family is a good way to build secondary connections through people they may know who have similar interests or connections in your industry. 

Primary and secondary connections will be the most important in connecting you to job openings or to relevant industry professionals. Build as many as you can, preferably through people that you actually know. Then start building your network by reaching out to people in your industry with similar interests or at companies where you want to work.

Get Recommendations

Recommendations are a great way for recruiters to learn more about you through your profile. Start by asking your manager for a recommendation, then follow up by asking co-workers. The quality of your recommendations speaks to the quality of your work and helps you to create an online reputation that will speak well of you before recruiters ever have the chance to talk to you. Make sure you return the favor and offer to write recommendations for your employees or co-workers, as well.

Be Aggressive

Don't just create your profile and expect people to come to you with job offers. Announce that you are looking for a job through your status, and contact your connections to put the work out that you're looking. 

Ask them if they know of any openings, or browse their updates to see if any of them have posted any vacancies. Search job openings through the site, and look for connections in your list. If you don't have any connections, search out members of that company to introduce you and ask for more information. Who you know is a big part of finding your next job, and LinkedIn is all about connecting with the people you know and the people they know. Take advantage of these connections, and work your network.

Have you found a job through LinkedIn? How useful has the site been to your job search? What other tips do you have for getting the most out of the site?

Author's Bio:
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and recent graduate of Elon University. She is currently a resident blogger at online degrees, where recently she’s been researching different online theology programs and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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