Q: I’m new to the LinkedIn network and was told that it was good resource for finding a job but I don’t have any idea what to do. Can you help with some basic tips?
A: LinkedIn is THE top social network for business professionals with over 100 million users in over 200 countries.
Unlike other social networks, you won’t be engaging with teenagers, soccer moms or bridge groups; only business professionals.
The first step is to establish a LinkedIn profile that clearly articulates who you are: your picture (very important), your professional and educational background, your interests, your volunteer work, etc. (any social media profile without a picture signals that you are new to the social world and don’t quite get the basics!)
Your picture can also allow someone that doesn’t recognize your name to remember you by your picture.
Think of it as a living resume that allows prospective employers to get a well-rounded understanding of who you are and how you think (a great video series for getting started is located here: http://goo.gl/VnDeM).
The next step is to start building your network with the people that you already have or had a relationship (friends, co-workers, old high school chums, etc.) You can start a search by building a list based on your e-mail address book and start requesting connections.
This first level of connections is the most important circle to focus on as all of those folks have their own connections (referred to as second-degree connections) that could be the key introduction to finding that next job opportunity.
For example, my current first circle has 372 connections which grows to over 117,000 connections in the second circle (my connections, connections). If anyone in your first or second circle posts a job opening as a status update, you can find them by going to http://www.linkedin.com/signal and setting up a filtered search request.
Try typing “job opening” to see how many status updates are found with those two words in them and use the filters to narrow the search to which networks (first, second or everyone), companies, industries, locations, etc.
If a job opening gets posted by someone you are already connected with, you can contact them directly with questions, but if it’s a second degree connection, you need to ask the person that you know that knows them for an introduction (LinkedIn makes it real easy to do this).
Since these are status updates, they are listed chronologically from newest to oldest, so you can jump on new opportunities quickly using this method and most of them post a link to the job opening website, so you don’t need to contact anyone to apply.
LinkedIn also has a an entire “Jobs” section that you can search by Job Title, keywords or even by company name. For the best results, click on the Advanced link below the Search button so you can set filters for location, job functions, experience levels, industries and how recent the jobs were posted.
Employers looking for a skilled workforce can easily leverage the network for as little as $39.95 a month by signing up for the “Talent Finder” service, which allows you to search through all LinkedIn profiles and directly contact up to 10 candidates per month. (Employers can also post a single job opening for 30 days at a cost of $195.)
The Talent Finder option in LinkedIn is why it’s so important for you to completely fill out your profile and make sure that keywords that describe the job you seek are in the profile. For instance, if you are looking for a computer programming job, make sure that those words exist anywhere it’s relevant: past employment, education, interests, etc.
There are dozens of other ways to leverage your LinkedIn network once you get rolling (such as asking your friends, former employers and colleagues past and present to write a recommendation for you); search Google for “using LinkedIn to find a job” for lots of additional ideas and tips.
• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the “Computer Corner” radio show, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to email@example.com.