The top five ways to use this social networking tool include:
1) Search for jobs.
2) Reinforce or cultivate your personal brand.
3) Strengthen your professional networks.
4) Share knowledge, ideas and resources.
5) Find talent.
In this column, I’m going to focus on the job search aspects of LinkedIn and will cover the other four uses in future columns. How to Job Search with LinkedIn
A few of these suggestions may be old news to some of you, but I want to share all that this powerful tool can do to make your job search more productive. Any research you do on LinkedIn will also help prepare you to ace that elusive interview when it comes along.
The following are my 10 recommendations on how to use LinkedIn to find your next job.
1) Learn about your company of interest. Do you have a favorite company? On their company page you’ll see a list of their employees and connections you may know. This is an efficient way to know whom you can contact with questions.
2) Know who is hiring. Try to find the people most involved in getting you the job you want. Look up all the folks involved in the recruiting process and professional groups where their company’s employees are members.
3) Get to know your recruiter. Often a recruiter, not directly employed by the hiring company, may reach out to you, so it's wise to research them and perhaps the recruiting or staffing firm where they're employed. Often, their searches are posted on their own web site or on LinkedIn, and by doing some digging you may be able to learn a few things that will give you an edge. And, if after a holiday party, you find out that your neighbor’s brother-in-law has contacts at the recruiter’s company, look them up and then request an intro if it makes sense.
4) Pay attention to referrals. Look up names of new contacts, former colleagues or clients of people you meet or whenever you’ve been offered an introduction.
5) Who already has the job? Search on the title of the position you’re interested in and look at the profiles of the people that come up. What differentiates them from you? Are there skills they have that you need to develop? Is there a certification you should have? Do they appear to all belong to the same LinkedIn group?
6) Get informed before a call. I always research a new contact and learn whatever I can about them before calling or emailing them back. Seeing if you already have anything or anyone in common makes new conversations easier whatever the circumstance might be.
7) Prepare for phone interviews. Once you know with whom you’ll be speaking, it’s always smart to learn as much as you can about them, especially when a job or career change is at stake.
8) Get a list and check it twice. Typically, a good recruiter or HR person will provide you the names of everyone with whom you’ll be speaking during an in-person interview day. But, if they don’t, you have to ask. Remember, withholding this information and waiting for you to ask for it can be used as a test, especially for sales or client-facing roles.
9) Give thanks. Good preparation for any event or meeting includes having at least some sense of the other people that will be at the event. You can look up the event hosts and sponsors in advance. An extra tip: Be sure to seek out the event hosts and sponsors during the event and thank them for their efforts in putting it together. It’s no easy task to host an event and offering a sincere “thank you” is a great way to start a new conversation.
10) Contact speakers and thought leaders. Before you attend a conference, review the conference web site and identify new people you want to meet or whether anyone you’ve been trying to meet is going to be presenting or attending an industry event or mixer. Look them up within LinkedIn and see what you can learn about them.
Sandy Jones-Kaminski is a self-described networking enthusiast and the author of "I’m at a Networking Event--Now What???" She’s been an executive in the HR industry and was recently the VP of Networking for one of the largest chapters of a national professional development and trade association. Sandy shares her professional insights on personal branding and effective networking via webinars, one-on-one coaching, workshops and by facilitating in-person networking events called Pay It Forward Parties. You can connect with her via her website at http://www.belladomain.com or via firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.613.8508.