At least 2 of the 4 jobs I have gotten since college can be directly attributed to LinkedIn. This by no means makes me an expert, but I have been on the site for a while and I pay attention to what works for people and what doesn’t. If you are looking for a job, good economy or bad, LinkedIn should be a big part of your strategy. Lots of people have written good posts on how to position yourself on LinkedIn, including one of the earliest from Guy Kawasaki and another more recent Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job, also from Guy. All of these tips (and others) are quality and should help guide your search. This list is intended to go a step above what everyone else is already doing and help you set yourself apart from a community that is getting more competitive every day.
Kill for Recommendations
Recommendations are a great way to add quality, less biased content to your profile. The more recommendations the better. Headhunters look at this number, the quality of the recommendations, and of course who is giving them. They also have an impact on where you show up in search results. Give recommendations to all those you think worthy. Ask everyone for the same. But do not rely on the LinkedIn request tool. Use email, phone calls, etc. Personal requests will work better with some.
Create a Personal Slideshow
LinkedIn applications rock, especially the Slideshare.com app. If you are a speaker, put your best presentation on your profile. If you are in resume mode, create a visual resume. Be creative. Show your personality, show your creativity and be memorable. These slide shows can go a lot farther than a text description and a nice avatar to help you stand out from the crowd.
Go Back In Time
Ideally you should have been adding connections to your LinkedIn profile since the site launched. In the absence of a time machine, start using it today as your virtual Rolodex for all the bosses, employees, coworkers, and vendors with which you have done business. It is an obvious suggestion, but the more honest connections you have, the more valuable your network as a job search aid. Also, do not just invest in connections with people who have obvious benefit to you. Look for people you may be able to help as well. You never know who will help you in the future. Sorry to phrase this in such a self serving way. But a job search is serious business.
Research Smart, Interact Smarter
Know the companies you want to work at? Stalk their employees. Look at the groups they join, the keywords they use, the apps they use, the books they read. Do your best to spin your profile (while holding true to your real skill set) to fall in line with those company’s cultures. Do not just try and appear relevant to that company though, actively look like a thought leader within their circles. Checkout the forums of the groups they are in and participate. Look for the questions they ask in the LinkedIn Answers sections. Looks for their answers. Listen, interact, and treat everything you say as thoughtfully as you would an interview. Because you it very well could be.
Treat Your Links Like Gold
One of the first things a potential employer is going to check out are your links. If you are searching for a job online, you really should have a blog or other content online for people to learn more about you. If you are involved in any organizations or have had some good press somewhere, include links to that information. Be creative. Post a video resume to Youtube and link to it from your profile.
Think Like an Entrepreneur
Do not settle for being a follower. Ask questions, create groups, and actively connect other people. These activities will put your profile in front of more people. They will frame you as a leader. And they will add more flavor to your personality that potential employers might remember. If you are not already a great networker, then some of this might be easier said then done. However, it is something to look for. Creating a group that gets good discussions going or starting a question that many people find interest in answering can be keys in helping you find the more active users that will help your job search reach a higher level.
BONUS Sign Up for SocialMinder.com
Social Minder is a nice little tool that helps you keep track of your LinkedIn connections via how often you email them. It tells you who you are neglecting and the topic you last discussed and much more. A very powerful little piece of software.
None of these steps will result as a golden bullet, but all should help you stand out from the noise. Finding that next great job is a stressful challenge and even more difficult within today’s high unemployment. Opportunities are out there, and LinkedIn is a key tool in helping your cause.