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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.