By: Christy Eichelberger
Networking is imperative in any job search. Even if you’re not actively looking for a job, you should be keeping up your professional network. When you need it, you want it to be there for you, and you want it to be effective. Social media provides numerous outlets for networking in addition to the more traditional methods of in-person meetings and passing out business cards.
LinkedIn is an extremely useful tool in professional networking. By creating a LinkedIn profile, you are, in effect, creating an online resume. But unlike a traditional resume, this resume is interactive and constantly evolving, and you can use it to let others know- and stay up to date on- what you’re interested in, what you’re good at, what you’ve accomplished and what you’re looking for.
LinkedIn has many features that help you stand out professionally. If you create a LinkedIn account and profile, you have the opportunity to join groups that can help you stay connected with others who have similar interests or backgrounds. Schools you have attended and even previous employers may have a group you can join, and by joining you may receive notifications whenever they are trying to fill open positions. You can connect with former classmates, associates and co-workers through those groups as well. These connections are helpful to maintain whether you are actively searching for a job or not.
When you update your LinkedIn profile, those connected with you receive notifications of your new updates. This allows others to find out instantly whenever you have gained a new skill, changed positions, or received some type of professional recognition. In other words, just by keeping your profile up to date, you are keeping others in your network up to date on your skills as well. This can also help you stay in the forefront of the minds of recruiters or headhunters who may view your profile.
Another feature of LinkedIn is the ability it provides for others to post recommendations for you as well as what LinkedIn calls endorsements. A recommendation in LinkedIn is like a traditional recommendation, where someone writes about their first-hand knowledge of you as a professional. An endorsement is when someone selects from a list of skills provided by LinkedIn and notes that you have those skills. Depending on the settings you choose, others are able to view the recommendations and endorsements you receive, making them even more valuable in your job search. In this manner, you are able to reach a much greater audience with these aids than would otherwise be possible.
As with any form of social media, LinkedIn enables job seekers to broaden their networks and puts them directly in front of companies and professionals who are looking to hire. LinkedIn is designed to be a professional way to use social media to expand your job search and your network, and it can be successful without involving too much effort. Simply staying active in relevant groups and keeping connected with others, while making sure to maintain an up-to-date profile, puts you in front of a wide audience of professionals who could help lead to your next job.