Whether you’re job hunting because you’re unemployed or have outgrown your current job, social media is an incredibly powerful tool that can help you dramatically expand your job search. Networking on social media should never replace face-to-face networking efforts–but it’s a way to really increase the number of people who know you’re seriously looking for work.
By far, the best social networking site you can use to land a job is LinkedIn. If you’re not already on LinkedIn, make getting comfortable with its user interface a top priority. LinkedIn is free to join, has over 100 million members, and is the preferred social network for affluent professionals, including executives from Fortune 500 companies. You won’t find any party pictures or goofy videos because it’s all business.
Create a LinkedIn Profile
Your profile on LinkedIn allows you to do some bragging by showcasing your accomplishments, listing your experience, and demonstrating your range of skills. Your personal statement can include your job history, skills, awards, publications, schools, previous employers, organizational ties, hyperlinks to other sites, and much more. You can upload your resume or a PowerPoint presentation that features your experience and qualifications. Make your profile as detailed as possible and include an attractive and professional head-shot photo.
Here’s an important tip: Think about how a potential employer would search for someone with your skills if they were hiring. Come up with a list of keywords or keyword phrases that are popular in your industry and make sure any that apply to you are included in each section of your profile.
To find the most popular keywords for your industry, use the free Google Keyword Tool. When I type in “accountant” and sort the results by clicking on the “Global Monthly Searches” heading, here’s just a sample of the hundreds of query results that come up: auditing, bookkeeping, construction accounting, chartered accountant, tax preparer, tax accountant, and accounting management. If terms are getting high Web traffic, people will probably search for them in LinkedIn as well.
Make Connections on LinkedIn
Once your profile is picture-perfect reach out to your friends and business associates first by inviting them to connect with you on LinkedIn. They may already know you’re looking for a job, but may not know the details about your work experience and skills until they see your impressive LinkedIn profile!
Let your entire network know that you’re actively seeking a new position and would appreciate any help they could provide. You can do this within LinkedIn by posting status updates that go to all your connections. Be sure your profile status is set to show your status updates to everyone so you have the broadest audience possible who knows you’re looking for work.
Get LinkedIn Recommendations
There’s a great feature on LinkedIn that allows you to post recommendations from previous bosses, colleagues, subordinates, and customers. We all know how powerful third party endorsements are and it’s no different when you’re job hunting. Even if they don’t give you a recommendation, LinkedIn is a great place to get the scoop on where previous colleagues are now working. Perhaps their company is hiring and they can put in a good word for you.
Use LinkedIn Company Profiles
You can also search LinkedIn for specific “Company Profiles” to learn more about them and see if they’re hiring. You can even find out where people go after they leave a company. If you see a trend, it could be a great clue about which companies are taking over market share in their industries and might need new employees.
If there’s a company you want to work for, use LinkedIn to find out if anyone in your network knows someone who works there. If you don’t have an inside connection, try to make a direct connection with someone who works there who would take your resume to the hiring manager or give you the manager’s contact information.
Use LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups is a great way to find like-minded people who might know about available positions in your industry. Your high school or college probably has its own group that you can use to reconnect with long-lost classmates and friends (and if it doesn’t you should start one!). You can post your availability for a new job on the group discussion board and ask if anyone can help you by forwarding your resume or making a personal introduction, for instance.
By the way, be sure to join the brand new Money Girl Personal Finance Group on LinkedIn! Not only will you get great money advice, tips, and resources, but you might connect with someone who posts a job opening there or who knows someone who can give you a leg up on the competition.
Use the LinkedIn Job Search Engine
LinkedIn has a jobs section where you can search for or post job listings. If you find any jobs where you’re just one or two connections away from the person who posted the job, you’ve got a great opportunity to get in front of that company’s hiring manager. And speaking of search, here’s a side note: Many employers will get the scoop on you by searching your name in Google. It’s a good idea to know what they might find, so create a Google Alert for your name. You’ll receive an email notification anytime Google finds content that includes your name.
You might get so good at networking on LinkedIn that you get multiple offers! Be sure to read “How to Evaluate a Job Offer” so you know how to weigh your options carefully because there are many financial and non-financial issues to consider before you make a final decision about your next career move.
If you have additional tips about ways to leverage LinkedIn to find work, please share them in the comments section below.