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Stand Out on LinkedIn
June 2011

A few weeks ago I attended an industry conference focused on “strategic talent acquisition”. I was surrounded by 300 other high-level professionals in the recruiting industry, many of whom lead recruiting functions for Fortune 500 organizations. One of the most popular topics during the three day event was social media and how to utilize the various tools in order to engage passive candidates.

While I found out about some great new sites and social tools that I am going to explore utilizing at my company, one site, LinkedIn, was the belle at the ball when it came to recruiting. Out of all the different social media tools, most every recruiting leader I spoke with has had great success at their organizations finding quality candidates on LinkedIn. Many of whom shared my opinion to decrease utilization of major job boards such as Monster and Career Builder and focus more resources on LinkedIn.

What does that mean to you as a job seeker? You need to be where the companies are hiring, where the recruiters are networking and searching for candidates.

I have written about the benefits of LinkedIn in several articles in past Career Zone issues. In July 2009, How to Incorporate Social Media In Your Job Search Strategy, I talked about a variety of the best Web 2.0 tools to take advantage of during your job search. I touched upon the importance of networking and utilizing LinkedIn for your job search in Networking Debunked. LinkedIn is also a great resource for informational interviews and fact finding information about organizations as mentioned in Skate to Success In Your Next Interview. I hope you can see the pattern. LinkedIn is one of the best, most useful tools you can have in your job search arsenal.

So, how can you get noticed on LinkedIn? Below you will find 5 useful tips to stand out against the crowd.

1. Be Original – Your goal is to stand out from the millions of other LinkedIn profiles. That means you need to have a profile that focuses on your skills and abilities with precision and detail. Pay attention to The Most Overused Buzzwords that are Killing your Résumé and your social media profiles. I can’t tell you how many profiles and résumés that I see that are full of buzz and no accomplishments. Tell about how you saved the company $2 million dollars, not how you are a team player or people person.

2. Network and Connect – LinkedIn has over 101 million members and it’s growing daily! Just creating a profile will not enable you to reap the benefits of the site. You need a minimum of 75 connections to see the true power of your network. Your 75 connections combined may have 10,000 connections. Think 6 degrees of separation, and when you add their connections into the equation, you may have a network of over 1 million people.

Making connections is not as difficult as you think. LinkedIn provides tools that enable you to upload your address books with a click so you can connect with people you already know. Also, if you join LinkedIn Groups, such as the Drexel University Alumni Association Networking Group, you will be able to contact the members of those groups and expand your network that way. Chances are that one of your connections is going to know someone who can help you get your foot in the door at one of your target companies. Think of how amazing and powerful having 1 million people behind your job search could be! (Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn)

3. Get Engaged – If you create a profile and never use LinkedIn for anything else, you are missing a golden opportunity. You can only be effective with your job search if you are engaged in activity. Think of the variety of interests, industries and organizations you are interested in. Join Groups that match those areas and get involved in the discussions. This will give you opportunity to highlight your expertise, and become more interesting to other members.

4. Sign up for a Job Seeker Premium Account – Job Seeker Premium was created for candidates looking to get the edge over others in the job search market. Plans start at $19.95 and up depending on the plan you need. While it might seem like a lot of cash, especially if you are unemployed, you may find the cost–benefit ratio worthwhile. If you want to get noticed, premium account holders have their names visible at the top of search results above non-premium LinkedIn members. That means when a recruiter does a search for your skills or you apply for a job, your name will be first on the list. Think of sponsored links on Google. The premium accounts also enable you to send InMails straight to people that are out of your network. This is useful when you do not have any connections in common and you can not figure out the persons direct contact information via Google searches. You can also have a Job Seeker badge displayed on your profile so that recruiters can see you are interested in career opportunities.

5. Stay Organized – LinkedIn’s Profile Manager is your own personal filing and notation system while on LinkedIn. It lets you organize your connections by folder and even tag and organize the profiles of people outside your network. You can keep track of people that caught your attention while browsing LinkedIn, similarly to how you might bookmark an interesting website you found online. When you are at an event and meet someone, connect with them on LinkedIn and notate their profile “Met at Drexel alumni event in New York City” or if you find out an interesting fact or hobby of a connection, “plays squash and collects wine”.

If you want to learn more about how to get the most out of your LinkedIn experience, there are many useful recorded webinars and data sheets. Take full advantage of the vast array of tools and resources LinkedIn provides. A little time and energy on LinkedIn will help get you in front of the right recruiters and hiring managers!