LinkedIn: Link Up or Lose Out in Your Job Search

In a recent survey by Jobvite of more than 1,000 human resources and recruiting professionals, 92 percent of respondents said they use social media for recruiting. Even more important, 87 percent use LinkedIn to find the right candidate.

The lesson here? If you’re not on LinkedIn you’re missing a huge opportunity. Recruiters simply can’t find you.

But it’s not enough to simply have a profile. Just as a polished LinkedIn presence can help you attract recruiters, a bad one can scare employers away.

So you’ve got to use LinkedIn, and you’ve got to do it well. Here are a few simple ways you can improve your LinkedIn game, to maximize your chances of being found by recruiters.

1. Pick a good photo

Your LinkedIn profile absolutely must include a picture of you. This is your first impression so make it a good one.

Pick a photo that makes you look professional, but approachable. The picture should be a close-up shot of your shoulders and head. Avoid selfies or photos that include other people.

2. Be strategic with your headline

Here’s a rookie mistake a lot of people make. They use the headline field in their LinkedIn profile to advertise their job title. This is a waste of valuable real estate!

Instead of listing your job title, try to write something that summarizes who you are and what you do as a professional. A creative, memorable, or eye-catching headline will get people to click into your profile for more details.

At the same time, you should make sure that your headline includes the most relevant keywords for your profession and industry. Recruiters generally use keywords to search on LinkedIn. Profiles that feature the specific search keywords get displayed first.

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Headlines are an art and a science, so you need to be creative and strategic. But here’s one thing you shouldn’t do: don’t use your headline to advertise that you’re “looking for new opportunities.

3. Showcase your work

LinkedIn allows you to upload projects, reports, and other materials to your profile. You can associate this content with specific jobs or create a standalone projects section. This is a great way to showcase concrete professional accomplishments.

4. Participate in LinkedIn groups

Another way you can show off your skills, expertise, and experience on LinkedIn is through participation in groups.

There are thousands of professional groups on LinkedIn; undoubtedly there’s one for your particular area of professional interest. Contributing to these groups—by adding thoughtful comments to existing conversations, sharing relevant news articles, or even sharing jobs that you find—helps you stand out as well-rounded professional.

And people will notice. In a previous Jobvite survey, 80 percent of recruiters reacted positively to seeing memberships to professional organizations!

5. Send a personal note when connecting

Connecting with other people on LinkedIn is important. (Indeed, that’s the whole point!) But make sure you’ve always got a real reason for why you want to connect with someone.

You share this reason in your contact request message.

Avoid LinkedIn’s default text like the plague, as using this generic copy makes you look unfocused and lazy.

Instead articulate a specific reason why you are looking to connect with the other person. It doesn’t need to be a profound reason, but you should provide some explanation for why you’re reaching out.

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