Jobhop Jobhop's blog : How To Leverage LinkedIn
LinkedIn, with its pervasive reach, can foster employment opportunities that one might otherwise pass up.
Whether you like it or not, LinkedIn has become the go-to tool for recruiters.
While major companies might maintain databases of applications previously received and passed over, most recruiters will trawl LinkedIn for fresh names to propose for positions they need to fill. With millions of searches monthly by recruiters, even though one might feel the site is a meat market, the fact is, this is the platform on which one needs to be present.
The social networks over the past 20 years have been transformative. Starting as a simple way to keep in touch with bygone friends, companies realised their worth for prospecting business, especially sites such as Facebook and Twitter which garner millions of hits by the minute. Having risen to predominance in the West, these networks are rivalled overseas by the likes of VK and WeChat.
And while these networks offer tremendous advantages by offering their users to marketers, companies, and causes keen to sway attitudes, another market has evolved in finding people for roles and business opportunities. This is the niche filled by LinkedIn. While, like the others, having data on its clients is in itself a treasure trove, one of its key products is the ability to both offer reams of names that might have the requisite skills and geographic proximity that match a job search spec, and a way to send messages to potential candidates.
Perhaps out of pride, some people consider LinkedIn a place for those unable to find employment. Say a place to register when one has been sacked. And while true, and perhaps not a message one might want to emit, it is also a place where people can promote themselves, demonstrate their knowledge, register recommendations, and maintain their contact networks.
Recruiters, though they might think twice about somebody who has been idle for years, are not deterred to offer new opportunities to people who are currently employed. Poaching a valued employee can be a coup. Being able to swoop in just as somebody is thinking about hunting for something new is like having the inside information on a stock. And LinkedIn is keen to improve the way that its platform helps recruiters as demonstrated by the various tools, forums, and features it provides.
Nonetheless, there might be some disadvantages to appearing unemployed for a long time. But one does not necessarily have to keep one’s situation current. Rarely would a previous employer ask a former employee to amend a LinkedIn profile to show that a person is no longer employed by the company. Rather companies prefer to show more employees as it makes them look larger. (Note, though, if an employer does demand a profile be amended, one needs to do such to keep within the terms of usage.)
Being on LinkedIn, like other social media, delivers more if you consider yourself a brand. A brand that conveys individuality and value. However, for most of us who are not in marketing, we are less likely to make this mental leap and view ourselves as products. We need to overcome such humility and actively understand what a brand is.
What is a brand?
Consider brand names you know: Nike, Apple, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Coca-Cola. While some might deliver something physical or the other, a service, they all conjure up a feeling of quality associated with the name. That in essence is what we want to achieve, albeit in our own, small way. Thus brand-building is about messaging. It develops from relevant streams of content, offers value, and is contemporary. This can be in the form of posts, recommendations, or recognition and LinkedIn provides features that allow users to do such. Posting articles, getting endorsements by clients, colleagues, managers, and the like, such expands the footprint that a recruiter will find when searching for skills, reassuring a recruiter to reach out to a candidate.
Recruiters are susceptible to this form of branding. They are looking for content to save time when tasked with finding candidates to fill a job spec. Using keywords, they search LinkedIn and then do deeper scans for experience, recommendations, and if such exists, posts. These all give insights into prospective candidates before they even deign to send an inquiry email.
Generating content is time-consuming. Going down such a route, one should be judicious as to what one selects to write about. The posts written need to demonstrate knowledge, attitude, and capability. Above all, it has to be credible. Writing about stuff that you do not know about will raise red flags, and likewise, offering something disinteresting will not retain a reader. So post thoughts that are easily absorbed, meaningful, and insightful.
Another aspect of LinkedIn is networking.
Larger networks garner more attention from recruiters as such signals that a person is more active. If some have further written commendations, all the better. Getting recommendations might feel uncomfortable. But if somebody appreciated your work, asking for a few sentences should not be daunting. One can cajole colleagues by first writing reviews of them which they are more likely to reciprocate. And, one does not need to reach out to (former) managers. Endorsements can come from colleagues, subordinates, and clients.
As mentioned before, having a large network is impressive. Being able to boast 500+ connections conveys a sense that the person has the experience and interacts readily with others. Again, recruiters are looking for data points before they first reach out. A large network suggests that one is not a cardboard cut-out (i.e. a fake profile). It also demonstrates that you take LinkedIn seriously and are more likely to respond. In simple terms, connections imply credibility. And this is a reason why one is likely to get solicitations to connect from people who one has never heard of, and from far-off places. LinkedIn encourages this and recognises, a class of users LIONs, short for LinkedIn Open Networkers. These are subscribers who actively try to build up their networks.
Having good connections also extends one’s reach. With a good connection, somebody, perhaps not a recruiter, might find you as a 2nd or 3rd level removed contact that could participate in some deal or offer a service.
Being willing to connect to unknown people does have a downside. As there are scammers who also need to create an air of legitimacy for their fraudulent profiles. As also found on Facebook, these artificial personas also need networks. These tend to have short biographies, simplistic endorsements, and usually link to other light profiles. For one’s own brand, one must be cautious not to network with scam profiles.
As with anything of value, the amount of investment reflects the return it generates. Especially if starting off, scheduling time periodically to extend one’s network, update skills attained, post something worthwhile, and obtain endorsements will help catch the attention of recruiters.In:
- Social media