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How to use LinkedIn for job search the right way: Top 10 tips

Posted on 9/08/2017 by Peter Sanders


LinkedIn contains a treasure trove of opportunities for job seekers. But with a user base of over half a billion - which continues to grow by 2 people per second - and 10 million active job posts, it’s easy for your profile to get lost and for irrelevant job recommendations to pop up.

Think of LinkedIn as a window to your professional and personal brand. Using it the right way allows you to broadcast your status as a thought leader, develop qualified business relationships and gain access to the best opportunities. Get it wrong and you could ruin your career.

With this in mind, here are our top 10 tips for finding success on LinkedIn.

1. Videos.

If you have footage of yourself giving a great presentation or talk, adding it to LinkedIn can do wonders for your credibility. This is your chance to show people what you can do, instead of merely telling them you can do it.

Adding a video to the Summary, Experience or Education section of your profile is a fantastic way of giving potential employers a sense of who you are. Using video with LinkedIn Publisher or as part of an update will increase engagement with your content tenfold (more on these points later on).

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It’s still early days for using video on this platform, so make the most of the opportunity to stand out while you can. Make sure when choosing a video that you are demonstrating expertise relevant to the market you are aiming at.

2. Company Pages.

Have a dream company in mind? Make sure you follow their page for updates, news and job openings. If they have a content team producing regular posts these will undoubtedly reflect the concerns and opinions of the business. This knowledge will give you an edge when the time comes for a job application. And don’t just read the posts - liking and, more importantly, commenting will get you on their radar.

3. Referrals.

LinkedIn isn’t immune to the six degrees of separation rule. By checking out your connections - and their connections and their connections - you can transform a cold approach into a warm introduction simply by asking for a referral or two. Et voila - you’ve bagged yourself an informal coffee with your number one prospect. Way more effective than skipping straight to a formal interview.

4. Status Updates and Commenting On Posts.

Regularly updating your status and commenting on the posts of people you follow shows that you’re proactive, interested and engaged. But this isn’t the place for cat memes (unless you’re a vet, perhaps) - make sure your posts are work-related.

Keep your updates short, relevant and emotive to gain the most traction. Don’t be afraid to use humour or show your personality.

Adding rich media to your updates can significantly increase engagement with your posts. Updates with a video see an engagement uplift of 74%, adding a link can increase engagement by 84% and including an image will see your engagement soar by 147%.

5. Market Yourself

If you have something to say that’s worthy of more than 120 characters, LinkedIn Publishing is the answer. If you have the knowledge, time and ability, write articles as regularly as possible - weekly, if you can manage it.

You may only get a couple of hundred views at first, but if they’re from the right people - i.e. your personal network - then it’s a high value activity, and one which showcases your knowledge and insight.

6. Headshot.

Just simply having a profile picture raises your profile views by 14% and, without one, you can’t achieve all-star status. But not all pictures are created equally, and it’s still surprising how many people get it so wrong. LinkedIn is a serious professional network. That means:

  • No drunk selfies

  • No pictures of cats

  • No low resolution or blurred images

  • No holiday snaps

Keep it simple. You don’t necessarily need to call in a professional photographer, smartphones can achieve a great snap.

Set yourself up in front of a plain, fuss-free background and make sure your face takes up 60% of the frame - remember, you should be the focus. Dress for success - wear your typical office attire and an approachable smile. Finally, make sure the shot looks like you - being recognisable in your interview is key to maintaining your credibility.

7. Profile Summary.

Your summary is the place where you get to sum up, in your own words, who you are and why a recruiter should take note. Here, your personality and passion can shine. Be authentic and write how you speak.

Demonstrate your expertise by listing any specialisms or impressive work experiences and get specific about what you are looking for and what you have to offer. Include a call to action - invite the reader to connect, request a direct message or insert a link to your online portfolio.

Your summary should contain 3-5 short, jargon-free paragraphs with plenty of white space. Add relevant keywords and use rich media to reinforce your words. And finally, proofread before you post. Twice. It’s worth revisiting the summary every six months or so to make sure it’s still telling the right story.

8. Headline.

Your headline appears directly under your name and is your chance to intrigue potential employers from the get-go. The temptation is to use this as a mini-summary - a short explanation of who you are and what you do - but that doesn’t make the most of the opportunity. Instead, use this space to tell recruiters or prospective employers, in 120 characters or fewer, the value that you offer, using keywords where relevant.

“Increasing your sales by combining integrated media solutions with high precision targeting” is far more powerful than “I’m a media marketing manager with high precision targeting expertise”.

This is your chance to answer the ‘so what?’ question. Use it wisely.

9. Featured Skills.

When LinkedIn launched their revised desktop layout earlier this year, skills and endorsements received an overhaul. Instead of simply listing your skills in order of the most upvoted, you can now display your most relevant abilities first.

This is important for three reasons; viewers will only see the top three (your ‘featured skills’) unless they click to view more, your connections are encouraged to endorse the skills you believe are most important, and you’ll improve your keyword search ranking for these skills.

10. Recommendations.

What’s the first thing you do when you consider making a purchase? You look for reviews. You check out the ratings on Amazon or Which?, or search for reassurance from your peers that the product you’re considering is trustworthy, reliable and good value.

That’s what LinkedIn recommendations do for recruiters; they offer a credible testament to the value that you provided your previous employer.

Glowing reviews from the right people are differentiators in a competitive market. But in order to be useful, they must be specific and credible.

When requesting a recommendation, ask people to talk about the strengths they witnessed you demonstrating, the reasons why they loved working with you and the challenges you helped them to overcome, including specific examples.

Bonus Tip: LinkedIn has its own etiquette. Avoid damaging your credibility by swotting up on the Do’s and Don’ts.

It’s easy to dismiss social media as a time drain - and you could argue that hours scrolling through Instagram pictures or Facebook updates is. But LinkedIn is a rare exception - if used in the right way, it becomes a dashboard for your success.