How to Use LinkedIn Strategically in Your Job Search, with Karen Sharp-Price

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Maybe you have a LinkedIn profile, and you occasionally scroll your homepage on the platform, but there are other things you can do to use LinkedIn to assist you in finding your next job. Find Your Dream Job guest Karen Sharp-Price shares her top tips for using LinkedIn in ways you may not have thought of. It all starts with optimizing your profile, making connections, and using those connections to build a solid network that can help you with your career journey. Karen also suggests using LinkedIn to make a list of the companies you’d like to work for. 

About Our Guest:

Karen Sharp-Price is a certified professional coach who helps you get a career you can love. 

Karen also hosts the  SharpHR Career Corner. It’s a podcast about different career journeys.

Resources in This Episode:

For a healthy dose of help and encouragement in your career journey, tune into Karen’s podcast, SharpHR Career Corner.

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 390:

How to Use LinkedIn Strategically in Your Job Search, with Karen Sharp-Price

Airdate: March 15, 2023

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.

Get a free review of your resume today.

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You know you need a LinkedIn page.

And you also know that you can’t set it and forget it.

Karen Sharp-Price is here to talk about how to use LinkedIn strategically in your job search.

She’s a certified professional coach who helps you get a career you can love.

Karen also hosts the SharpHR Career Corner. It’s a podcast about different career journeys.

She joins us from Buffalo, New York.

Well, let’s get going, Karen. Do most job seekers use LinkedIn strategically?

Karen Sharp-Price:

Well, it’s a loaded question. I think that a lot of people have LinkedIn profiles. But have they really figured out how to strategically use it in their job search? Not as well as they probably could.

Mac Prichard:

What stops people from doing this?

Karen Sharp-Price:

I think that once they set up their profile, they think it’s like one-and-done and that it will work for them. But you, really, there’s a two-part on the LinkedIn. You have to have a strong profile, but then you also really have to be active with it, and being active is a whole list of different things, one being following the people that you want to connect with, connecting with them.

When somebody posts something- like it, share it, repost it, comment on it, and I think that some people tend to just maybe scroll through their home page, but maybe not really interact or get involved. And I think that’s the key right there is to really start to dive in and, you know, sometimes, people are a little fearful of doing that. But I think if you take little baby steps and you tend to like things, or then maybe the next step would be to comment once or twice or maybe reshare to your own connections. Take it one step at a time, and then you get used to it, and it becomes very natural.

Mac Prichard:

I know you have very specific steps that you recommend for using LinkedIn strategically, and we’re gonna walk through those, but Karen, what difference does it make in your job search when you use LinkedIn strategically?

Karen Sharp-Price:

Well, it really does make a tremendous difference because I think most people know nowadays that your network is generally the way that you’re going to find that next opportunity, and if you are just applying and not really connecting and interacting with your network, you’re gonna have a little bit harder time trying to get that job that you really want. So, LinkedIn makes it so much easier.

When I was, you know, years ago, when I was out there trying to find jobs, LinkedIn didn’t exist, and it really has made a tremendous difference for people who are trying to get out there. So, they really need to start using it pretty much almost every day. Just to look to see who’s out there, what kind of groups you might want to be interested in connecting to, who’s working where, what positions there are. There’s a ton of information on LinkedIn that I think people probably really don’t know about, and they really need to start utilizing.

Mac Prichard:

The idea of using LinkedIn every day when you’re looking for work might sound overwhelming to some listeners, and also, learning how to use LinkedIn strategically might seem overwhelming. Do you have to be a LinkedIn expert to enjoy the benefits the platform can provide during a job search?

Karen Sharp-Price:

No, absolutely not. I think, just like anything else, the more practice that you have in doing something, the better you get at it. And taking those little steps will make you feel more comfortable out there on LinkedIn, and then you will feel a little bit more comfortable each time you’re out there. Just to try a little bit of something different.

So, there are many ways that you can do that. One of the first things that I think is really important is to connect with people that are working in companies that you might someday really want to work for. So, just hitting that connect button, sometimes sending a message that goes along with it that says, you know, I came upon your profile, and I’m really interested in what you do, and I would love to connect with you. That would be like the first step to make those kinds of connections, and as soon as those people receive that connection and accept it, then you can start, you know, a dialogue with them. That would be one very small step that somebody could take.

I think that another important area is to have companies that you’re following. So, you want to choose where you work, and that is very different than the old way of looking for opportunities. So, if you are following a list of companies, and that information, those companies are sharing things on a daily, weekly basis. So, you’re gonna hear about trends within your industry. You’re gonna hear about the company and what they’re doing and what’s new with them. And you’re also going to see any kind of job opportunities that those companies also have.

So, choosing the companies where you want to work and making that target list of your employers is really beneficial. Then, going to LinkedIn and following each of those companies is another, you know, very easy step for somebody who might be a little apprehensive to do this. But then they’re going to see the benefit because they’re going to start to learn more about those companies when they go to their homepage on LinkedIn.

Mac Prichard:

I often hear from job seekers who reach out to someone on LinkedIn asking for a connection; they never hear back. What do you say to someone who’s facing that challenge? How can they increase the likelihood they’re gonna get a response?

Karen Sharp-Price:

Yeah, so that is going to happen, and I think that you just have to be prepared. I mean, in fact, today, I was reaching out to certain people, and sometimes, people will respond immediately. So, they’re on, and they’re always watching. Other times people are busy, and they may only decide to go on like once a week.

So, if you don’t get that automatic acceptance of your notification, it could just be that people are busy and they haven’t done it yet. If it’s been a long period of time and you still haven’t heard, that’s okay. There are millions of people out there on LinkedIn, and just try to connect with some other people.

But one of the things that you can do to try to increase your chances is when you hit that connect button, LinkedIn will pop up a message that says, “Do you want to leave a message to send with the connection?” And that way, if you actually write a message to that person, sometimes I think that might help people. There are actually people out there that say that if they don’t get a message with their connection, they will not accept it. So, they want that.

So, if that’s one of the things that maybe you don’t do on a regular basis, maybe change that a little bit and start writing little messages as you connect with people, and see if that doesn’t help with the increase of acceptance of your connections.

Mac Prichard:

You talked a moment ago about the importance of having a target list of employers that interest you, where you might want to work one day, or maybe you’re actively pursuing opportunities at those places during your job search.

When you reach out to someone inside of an organization, both to connect with them on LinkedIn and then to have that dialogue that you talked about earlier, how do you make that happen, Karen? What are you asking for? And why would someone say yes to a request for an online conversation?

Karen Sharp-Price:

Well, so what I find is you don’t want a job on the table when you’re starting to connect with people in different companies and when you’re also asking them for additional information. Because, you know, HR professionals, recruiters, or hiring managers, they tend to not want to interact with people that possibly might be applying for jobs.

So, the key here is to actually, when you create that list, you’re doing that ahead of time. You know the target companies that you want to work for. Then you go in a little bit deeper, and you look to see who the employees are that are working at that organization and the departments. You can really break it down into many different areas.

So, you might want to connect with an HR person. You might want to connect with maybe the supervisor of that department that you’re possibly interested in down the road. And you may also want to connect with people who are actually working at the company. That gives you a really good opportunity to see that company in, you know, a different light, from different stages of these people and where they work. I think that that will help you.

But the key is that you have to do it before there’s a job opportunity. You will probably get a higher response rate if you do it then. When there’s a job on the table, and then you go to the company, you can always follow the company, so that won’t be a problem.

But when you go to the people, and you actually try to connect, the hiring manager probably will resist that. The recruiter may not, it depends if they’re a third-party recruiter or if they’re actually within the organization, and you probably have a greater chance to connect with maybe people that are in those departments at that time because they don’t really have anything to do with hiring for that position.

So, you really have to be strategic, again, on how you go about doing this and at what point you do this. And so, really doing things ahead of time is really gonna be in your best favor when you’re trying to be strategic about this.

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific, Karen. We’re gonna take a break, and when we come back, I want to dig in a little more about what to say and ask for when you reach out to these people ahead of time before a job is on the table. So, stay with us. When we return, Karen Sharp-Price will continue to share her advice on how to use LinkedIn strategically in your job search.

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Karen Sharp-Price.

She’s a certified professional coach who helps you get a career you can love.

Karen also hosts the SharpHR Career Corner. It’s a podcast about different career journeys.

She joins us from Buffalo, New York.

Karen, before the break, we were talking about how to use LinkedIn strategically in your job search, and I love your point about having a list of targeted companies, reaching out to key people at those employers before a job is on the table, and you gave specific examples of people you should contact- HR directors, recruiters, and others.

What’s your recommendation, Karen, about the note that you send asking for that LinkedIn connection? And how do you recommend specifically following up with them once an invitation is accepted?

Karen Sharp-Price:

So, I think for initially, when you’re connecting with somebody, if you see a commonality between you and that person, it could be someplace they’ve already worked, the area in which they’re working, maybe a school that you also attended, you can bring that out into the conversation and just say that you came across their profile and you see that you have worked somewhere, went to school somewhere, have a common thread somewhere along the way. That would be a really great way to at least start the conversation.

But I think that in order to keep the conversation going, once they accept your notification of connection if you’re still really targeting opportunities in companies, what I would suggest is really bringing it into an informational interview and asking them- people love to talk about their own careers- so, when you reach out to them and say that you’re in transition, you’re targeting new opportunities, and you see that they are in this particular field, in this industry, you’d like to learn more about their own career journey, people tend to want to jump at that.

And I actually do that for myself and for students that I work with, for all different types of people. If someone contacts me and says that they would like to reach out to somebody, I kind of give them that advice. You want to really bring it down to a very, you know, human level. You’re interested in what they do. You want to learn more. Would they mind taking a few minutes to talk to you?

I would say the majority of people would be very happy to actually talk to you about what they have done and the journey that they’ve taken along the path. Many people, you know, you don’t go from A to Z and get to exactly where you want. A lot of people take turns and come to a fork in the road, and they’re not sure which way to go, and they take a different angle, and it leads them to new opportunities.

So, they love to talk about what that journey was like. And so, I would suggest trying that. And I think you’ll have some success with that.

Mac Prichard:

In the first segment, Karen, you talked about the importance of a strong profile, and an important part of that is having keywords in your profile page. Tell us more about why you recommend paying attention to keywords in order to use LinkedIn strategically, and tell us how to do that.

Karen Sharp-Price:

Yeah, keywords really are very important. Recruiters will, on the recruiter side of LinkedIn, will put in keywords that they’re looking for when they’re looking for a candidate. And so, the algorithms of LinkedIn will scan everyone’s profile, and the people that have a certain number of those keywords will be picked up, and they will give a list to that recruiter of the profiles that they should look at based on those keywords.

So, that’s why if you’re really out there looking for new opportunities, sometimes the recruiters will reach out to you before you even know that there’s an opportunity out there. You want to be seen, and you want to be caught within those algorithms.

So, what I suggest is looking at job postings and scanning the job postings to see what keywords pop out at you. Then make sure that those skills, the requirements, the experiences that you’ve had align with those keywords. And if they do, make sure that they fall on your profile. Whether they’re gonna be at the tagline underneath your name, whether they’re gonna be under the experience section, and you give a description of what you were doing at that opportunity, or in the about section where you give the little bio of who you are and what your career story is.

So, you have plenty of areas on your LinkedIn profile that you can insert these keywords, and the more keywords that you have that align with the type of industry or jobs you’re looking for, the better chance that you’re going to be seen by recruiters.

Mac Prichard:

What mistakes do you see candidates make when using keywords on a LinkedIn profile?

Karen Sharp-Price:

I think that, for the most part, it’s just the number of keywords. They’re not using enough, and they’re not using all of the real estate that’s on LinkedIn to their advantage. So, like I said, in the very top, when someone comes to your profile, they’re scanning, you know, they’ll look at your headshot, they’ll look at your tagline, they’ll go down to the about section and read about you. If they see what they like, and they want, and they’re interested, and they’re intrigued or curious about learning more about you, they will then reach out to you.

But if those places don’t catch their attention, they’re going to stop. They’re going to move on. So, I would say that you really have to, you know, create a list of the keywords first and then try to figure out, strategically, where is the best place to fit them. And sometimes, you’re gonna fit them in more than one place. And don’t be skimpy on it. Make sure that you’re using enough keywords that will be seen by any kind of hiring manager or recruiter.

Mac Prichard:

I’m sure there’s a listener out there wondering, well, what’s the magic number? Is there a figure you can give?

Karen Sharp-Price:

If we knew, yeah, that is the golden ticket, and there really isn’t a certain number. But I think that as long as you really are aware of your industry, of the job that you’re trying to apply for, and, you know, again, go to other job postings and see. Go to the company itself and their career page and look to see what types of things they’re looking for. And then, going back and just scanning to make sure that those pop out at you on your profile.

And if they don’t, you know, reexamine that a little bit and add a few more along the way. And there’s plenty of keywords for any particular job opportunity. In fact, when you, generally speaking, when you go and look for job opportunities, and you actually compare the job postings for like three or four different companies, you’re gonna see a trend because there’s only so many ways that a company can say something that they want in a person, for a candidate. So, you’re gonna see a commonality, and just make sure that those common keywords are being used.

Mac Prichard:

Karen, the approach that you outlined for how to use LinkedIn strategically during a job search it’s got three-parts: build your LinkedIn profile, target companies, and make connections. It’s very different from what many candidates have done in the past. Often people will sit down at a computer, look at a job board and just send out a certain number of applications every day. Why do you recommend the approach that you’ve outlined here? Why is it the better way?

Karen Sharp-Price:

Yeah, it really is, and that is the old way of thinking that you just throw out as many as you can, and hopefully, something will stick. Nowadays, companies really want candidates to know something about their company. They want people who have reasons for why they want to work for them. They’ve done their research, they know the product, they know the service, they know the company culture, and they know why it’s a good company to work for.

And so, by targeting your companies and knowing who you want to apply for, you’re really saving yourself a ton of time because you’re going to be watching, following, commenting, and sharing on LinkedIn, from these companies, on your home page, any information that they have out there. And it’s really important to target that so that when you go in for an interview, and they ask you, well, what do you know about our company? You’re not going to be having that ho-hum moment where I’m not quite sure.

I’ve been in a lot of interviews where people will say, well, I was kind of hoping I’d learn about the company in the interview. That’s a kiss of death. You don’t want to do that because, nowadays, you have LinkedIn. You can learn so much about each of these companies.

So, you want to have reasons, and you want to know, you want to have the research done, you want to know who these companies are and why you would want to work for them. And honestly, at the end of the day, it’s going to be a better fit for you as a candidate because you’re gonna have all of this background information, and you’re gonna know this is a company that you did want to work for and that you would love to have the opportunity to have an interview.

And you’re gonna bring in more enthusiasm and motivation towards that interview because you’re gonna be excited about it because you’re gonna know that this is something that you really wanted all along and that this is a company that you’ve been following for quite a long time.

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Karen. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?

Karen Sharp-Price:

Well, I recently created a women’s career support group, and we meet every two weeks, and it’s a great group of women of all different ages, from those just starting out to women who have been out in the workforce for quite a long time to women who are transitioning into new carers. And so, it allows women to sort of support each other, ask questions, and feel as though they have a group of people behind them that are going to really give them some sound advice.

The group started just shortly, we’ve only had two meetings so far, and I have to say it was a great opportunity to bring women together. And I thought it might take a few times to get together before we all gelled, and they were helping each other from the very moment we started. So it’s a great group for women out there. No matter what stage of the game you’re in in your career, you’re welcome to join us at any time.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific, and I know listeners can learn more about that group and your other services by visiting your website,, and that you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and as always, I’ll hope they’ll mention they heard you on Find Your Dream Job.

Now, Karen, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to use LinkedIn strategically in a job search?

Karen Sharp-Price:

So, I think that, you know, if you remember to, first, have a really strong profile. Secondly, make sure those keywords are part of it. Target your audience so you know who you’re targeting, the companies that you want to work for, and then do your research on those companies. So that when you’re in the interview, when they ask you, tell me a little bit about yourself. And what do you know about our company? You’re going to be able to align your background and experiences with what the company is looking for because you’re going to know what the company is. So, build your profile, target your companies, and go out and make some connections.

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Nicole Fortner.

She’s the founder and CEO of Hire Up Consulting.

Her company creates resumes and cover letters that make you stand out instead of blend in.

Do you not include a cover letter when you apply for a job?

You’re making a big mistake, says Nicole. When done right, a cover letter can be one of your most effective marketing tools.

Join us next Wednesday when Nicole Fortner and I talk about why you need a cover letter and how to do it.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List.

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.