LinkedIn has rapidly grown over the last decade with over 225 million members in over 200 countries. To leverage LinkedIn you need to understand why it exists and how it operates as a business. It exists because they are connecting the world’s professionals, and they monetize from premium membership subscriptions, advertising, and corporate recruiting solutions.
Here are the Top 3 Reasons Why You Need a LinkedIn Profile:
#1 Finding a Job
You can filter the jobs section to find opportunities in your area within specific fields. One of the most effective features of job hunting on LinkedIn is that often times a job posting allows you to see and contact the recruiter who posted the job on the upper right hand corner of the posting. You will probably need a premium subscription so you can send the recruiter an InMail because the recruiter won’t likely be in your network of connections (InMail is the ability to send direct messages to people you’re not connected with). I recommend people that are actively seeking employment take to take advantage of the premium subscription called the Job Seeker which allows you to send InMails and feature your application with recruiters. The other great feature is that when you search for a company it will show people within that company that are 2nd or even 3rd degree connections (Your 2nd level connections are connected to your 1st level connections). You can then reach out to people that work at the company to get their advice about the company, often times people are open to an informational chat to help guide your career search. Many companies have an employee referral program which could potentially allow them to receive a bonus if you’re hired at the company, so it could be in their interest to help you.
#2 New Opportunities
The CEO of LinkedIn once said that it’s not about how much time you spend on the site, it’s about pro-actively updating your profile. This is important because recruiters from many organizations leverage LinkedIn to find passive candidates. Passive candidates are people who are not actively looking for employment but are open to hearing about new opportunities. For example, the best salesperson for the job may be someone who’s already employed and over achieving in their current role. If you don’t have an updated LinkedIn profile you are completely missing the boat as a professional. I once spoke with a recruiter of one of the top consumer technology companies and he mentioned that he only uses LinkedIn and his network of contacts to recruit candidates. Since employement isn’t what is once was where people were working at the same company for 30 years, having a well-crafted LinkedIn profile allows you to keep your pulse on the job market.
#3 Build Your Personal Brand
It’s been said that you can’t make a first impression twice and you never know if it’s a recruiter at a great company or your next boss that happens to take a look at your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn presence is swifty eroding the need for a resume (although we’ll discuss the difference between what your LinkedIn profile and your resume should look like in a later post), so you want to make sure you have an appropriate photo and an organized profile. If you’re wondering what a good profile should look like, check out Jeff Weiner’s profile because he’s the CEO. You also want to add value to your LinkedIn community by sharing relevant articles or information in your status updates. Be mindful not to over-post and fill everyone’s updates with irrelevant quotes and articles, I once had to remove a connection because it became annoying. You can join Groups that are relevant to your field, for example if I worked at Verizon Wireless I would join a telecom group to learn about industry trends and communicate with like-minded professionals.
For college students reading this, your LinkedIn is more important than ever. As Reid Hoffman described in his book, The Start-Up of You, the career escalator is more jammed than ever. Baby boomers aren’t retiring because they can’t afford to which has limited upper management roles, and college students are on the bottom of the escalator looking up because their opportunities are limited. A sales director of one of the largest telecom manufacturers once told me, “It’s not that there aren’t any jobs out there, it’s just that it’s much more competitive than ever.” The entry-level job descriptions you read are going to ask for 1-2 years of experience, it’s a catch-22. How can you obtain 1-2 years of experience if you just graduated from college? The answer: You must leverage your junior and senior year of college to tap into internships and work essentially for free because that’s going to be your Trojan Horse into your first real opportunity out of college.
Hope this was helpful,