LinkedIn has been called “Facebook for grownups” and “the world’s biggest networking group.” It’s both of those and more, says career guru Kevin Donlin, a Twin Cities resident who travels across the nation presenting on job search strategies.
“Used correctly, LinkedIn can be one of the most valuable weapons in your job-search arsenal,” said Donlin.
To get the latest and best tips, Donlin interviewed Rob Mendez, an expert on LinkedIn and other social media, who helps job hunters via his CareerNetworkMinistry.com web site.
Here’s what Donlin and Menez talked about:
“First, you have to figure out your target audience and your goal with LinkedIn,” advises Mendez. “Use LinkedIn to network with as many people as possible, because it is not about who you know; it is about who other people know.”
He urges job seekers to make connections at companies they want to work for. “If you can’t find someone to champion you at an employer, you may have a hard time competing.”
Another tip: Know that first impressions count for a lot on LinkedIn.
“If someone searching LinkedIn and you pop up, they quickly see three things: your name, your picture, and your headline,” says Mendez.
Your name, photo, and headline should be compelling enough to cause someone to click through and view your profile. Otherwise, people will move on to someone else.
How can you make these three items stand out effectively?
For a start, your name can repel more people than it attracts, so play it safe there.
“Some people include an e-mail address as part of their name, or numbers or special characters, in the hopes of being different. Yes, they stand out, but in an annoying way. LinkedIn is a professional network, so make sure your name looks professional,” advises Mendez.
What about your photo? Again, the more professional looking, the better.
“It does not have to be taken at a studio. It should a headshot of you dressed up nicely. Not a body shot, not wearing sunglasses, not at the beach,” says Mendez, who recalls one profile picture of a man in a hammock. “If I am looking to hire someone, do I really want him working for me, based on this picture?”
What about the headline section of your profile?
In a nutshell, make the most compelling claim or promise you can about yourself.
“If I search LinkedIn for a realtor, for example, I can find a thousand of them. The results will include headlines like, ‘realtor, realtor, realtor, real estate agent,’ etc. Then, one profile has this headline ‘I’ll sell your house within 30 days guaranteed or I will buy it for cash, even if it is a bad economy.’ That person just got my attention,” says Mendez.
Attention is everything online. No employer will click through and read your profile unless you first grab their eyeballs.
Final LinkedIn tip: Use effective job titles on your profile.
If you owned a small business, for example, don’t refer to yourself as “Owner.” Because, how many employers want to hire — and butt heads with — a former owner of something? Call yourself a General Manager or something similar.
“I have talked to recruiters and they say it is perfectly fine to change your official job title,” says Mendez. “For example, I was once a Technical Systems Manager. When people look at that title, it doesn’t stand out and they don’t know what it is. However, if I change it to, Post Sales Implementation Project Manager, now they understand.”
Now, go out and make your own luck on LinkedIn, remembering that your goal is always to turn online connections into offline meetings — and job interviews.
Your Takeaway Lesson: If you’re not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist to employers. And if you’re not using LinkedIn correctly, you’re missing out.
Click here to learn how some people are using LinkedIn to attract employers, get called to interview, and get hired.