LinkedIn touted as best social networking tool for career builders

November 14, 2010

NEW YORK, Nov. 14, 2010/ Troy Media/ –   LinkedIn is the social networking tool of choice for career builders. That’s the opinion of Sherrie A. Madia, a social network strategy consultant and author of The Online Job Search Survival Guide .

Madia says LinkedIn “keeps getting better and attracts more employers looking for talent.” She attributes its success to its focus and Fortune 500 pedigree.

The numbers prove it. As of September 2010, there were more than 20 million monthly visitors to the site, and nearly 33 million members in the United States alone, according to a recent survey by global career website CareerBuilder. The survey found that nearly one in three employers use social networking sites to research job candidates – and 26 per cent of these employers used LinkedIn.

To get maximum return from using LinkedIn as a career-enhancing tool, Madia suggests heeding the following nine tips:

1.  Put yourself out there. Create a profile at LinkedIn.com with all the fields filled in, including a professional headshot. This conveys credibility, professionalism and commitment to potential employers.

2.  Wear your best face. Create a compelling headline. It’s the first thing viewers see after your name. Perfect your summary. It’s the most important part of your profile. And post a resume that’s interesting, up-to-date, typo-free, and memorable. Make sure that everything on your LinkedIn site is well-written and conveys a strong, cohesive message. Poor communication skills online is the reason why employers reject 29 per cent of job candidates, according to CareerBuilder’s 2009 survey.

3.  Clean up content. If you have existing pages at Facebook, MySpace and elsewhere, delete unsavory friends (potential  employers will look at your friends list), and remove any objectionable photos, videos, and public conversations. CareerBuilder found that 53 per cent of potential candidates were rejected by employers due to inappropriate or unprofessional content on their social network sites.

4. Solicit endorsements. Ask past clients, coworkers, bosses, and colleagues — such as fraternity brothers, professors, or members of organizations to which you belong — to provide testimonials. Posting these on your LinkedIn site is a great way to build credibility and give potential employers the opportunity to learn more about you.

5. Grow your network. Invite current and past colleagues, classmates, and professional associates to join you on LinkedIn. Each person in your network provides access to their networks, allowing your circle of connections to expand exponentially.

6.  Be a joiner. LinkedIn offers the opportunity to research and to join specific groups of interest around products/services, markets/industries or other focal points. You can join up to 50 industry-specific groups or create one to meet your needs. They’re a proven way to expand your presence.

7. Ask questions.  LinkedIn’s “Answers” feature is an opportunity to pose questions to targeted sectors of your network. It also enables you to reply to questions you receive from others in your network. It’s a productive tool for positioning yourself by adding value and demonstrating willingness to help and offer solutions to others. Caution: Do not use this vehicle to “sell” or to “solicit” business. If you do, you’ll find yourself isolated and excluded from your network.

8 Stay in touch.  Check in to LinkedIn every day. Ask one more person to join your network. Request, or make, one more recommendation. Update your status at least once a week by posting items such as blog entries. Keep your projects current and visible by utilizing the “What Are You Working on Now?” field right under your headline. All of this keeps you “in the news” as your updates appear in members’ update feeds.

9   Prepare cover letter template. Prepare a basic cover letter template – one that can be tweaked when necessary to tailor your pitch to a specific job description. It’s your first impression. Make it count. This is critical to the job search.

How to use LinkedIn as job-search tool

Click “Jobs” on LinkedIn’s home page drop-down menu, says Madia.  “Highlight Find Jobs and then type in a keyword. Zip code isn’t necessary. You never know what you’ll find or where. If you want a part-time job or freelance work, add that to the field. Pay attention to the entire left-hand column.”

Once “Apply” button is clicked, add cover letter. Most of your information will be added automatically.

“LinkedIn also gives unparalleled access to detailed information about companies throughout the world,” adds Madia. Choose one at random, and access current and past employees, recent hires, possible contacts, and recruiters.

The secret to success is devoting time to building your social network, stresses Mardia.  Update it often and you won’t be disappointed with the results.

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