Tips for using LinkedIn to find a job

The LinkedIn Corp. app logo is displayed on an iPad. (Tim Boyle/BLOOMBERG)

Want to use LinkedIn to find a job or boost your career, but not sure where to start?

Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s director of global acquisition, and Nicole Williams, a career expert for LinkedIn, share some ways to get the most out of the professional networking site:

Don’t settle for a bare-bones profile. “A good profile is a complete profile,” Browne said.

In other words, a simple list of your past employers and job titles likely won’t entice a recruiter. A comprehensive profile includes your educational background and detailed descriptions of all of your work experiences and skills. Depending on your field, you might also provide examples of your work in the form of video, slideshows or other multimedia files.

“Unlike a résumé where you want to be really succinct, you can actually broaden your profile,” Williams said.

Include a profile photo. LinkedIn has found that profiles that contain a photo are seven times more likely to be viewed.

“It’s kind of like shopping for a house online,” Williams said, meaning that you might ignore a real estate listing on the Web if it didn’t include photos of the property.

Share regularly and wisely. Much like Facebook, LinkedIn allows users to post updates. These can be simple messages, such as “I’m off to a global health conference in New York” or “Congratulations to my team for beating its monthly sales goal.” Updates can also include links to articles and other content from around the Web.

Williams said that if you share something just once a week, LinkedIn has found you are 10 times more likely to have your profile viewed by a hiring manager.

“The biggest thing I look for when people share articles is not necessarily someone who’s sort of bragging about their company or saying ‘come work at my company,’ ” Browne said. “But just really sharing and commenting in an insightful way about really interesting topics. Those things stand out in a massive way.”

Be professional, but don’t be staid. In a LinkedIn profile, “I really look for someone’s personality to come screaming through,” Browne said.

Updates, he said, can be a powerful way to show who you are.

Your profile can also be used to highlight unique hobbies or activities that illuminate what kind of worker you are.

Williams offered an example of a friend who works in the publishing industry and was weighing two equally qualified candidates for a job. On LinkedIn, she learned that one of the candidates did volunteer work with an animal rescue nonprofit. The hirer was an animal lover, so that candidate ultimately got the job.

Personalize your invitation to connect. When you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn, your request is accompanied by a brief note. You have the option of selecting a boilerplate message that reads, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” But Browne advises taking the time to craft something more tailored.

“Find some degree of connection, and a warm connection,” Browne said.

For example, you could point out that you share an alma mater, or you could mention a mutual friend or colleague.

Mine mutual connections. Browne advises paying attention to shared acquaintances as a way to better understand the background of someone you want to meet.

For example, if you are looking for more information on a potential employee or employer, you can check out your mutual connections.

“A couple different things happen from that,” Browne said. “One, you probably will give me some directional [information], which is really helpful when it comes to recruiting talent. And second, you might actually be able to help terms of getting in touch with him.”

Focus on fit, not volume.Browne said it’s a turnoff if job seekers appear to be using LinkedIn indiscriminately, meaning they are deluging recruiters with too many messages or are going after jobs for which they are not qualified.

“I would encourage people to not do that, to be a bit more patient and thoughtful,” Browne said.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.



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