Updated: Nov 1, 2020
Five top tips for job seekers and career changers
There’s no denying that LinkedIn can be a bit of a snooze. Braggers, blaggers and bullshit merchants can make it feel like the sales conference from Hell.
But it is a great resource for job seekers and career changers. Here are my top five reasons why LinkedIn is great for job seekers. Plus my top tips for making the most of it.
1. Promote your professional experience
Let's start at the beginning...
You need to set up your personal page. It is like an online version of your CV but with way more content. Once you have this set up, a wealth of job hunting opportunities are open to you.
On your page, you add your professional experience, list your skills and write a profile about yourself. Past colleagues can confirm you’ve got the skills you’ve listed (endorsements) and write a review about you too (recommendations).
Take the time to set up a really good profile if you want to maximise your chances of finding work through LinkedIn.
Once you have your profile set up, invite friends and colleagues from your contact list to connect with you. This starts to build your network because, once they’ve connected, you can see all the people they’re connected to.
Here are some basic ways to use your profile to promote yourself.
Your LinkedIn profile should contain richer content than your CV, so share your LinkedIn address to drive people to your page. Put it on your CV, cover letters, in your email signature, on your business card, on Facebook. Tell people to look you up on LinkedIn. Get people here to see the great stuff you're going to share.
One way to get noticed and show off your expertise is to post regularly about your area of work. You can post on your wall and write articles. Articles are great because they stay at the top of your profile, whereas posts move down your feed as time passes. Articles also give you space to write more. Aim for a mix.
Write articles about challenges in the sector or top tips for people in your field. Showcase your expertise. Make people think 'wow, this person knows their stuff'. They might even share your article and get it to a wider audience.
Post about problems you’ve solved in the past, tell people about training you’ve recently taken. Build up a picture of who you are and why you’re worth employing.
LinkedIn is a networking site. That means you should actively use it to connect with people in your area of work.
‘Connect’ is a fuzzy word though. It doesn’t mean just send a connection request and leave it at that.
Use LinkedIn to get to know people and you’re far more likely to be on their radar when jobs become available.
Step 1 is to connect
You need to build your network to get seen by as many people as possible. Use the search function to find people who are relevant to your job sector and click the connect button. Simple as that!
Don’t be scared to send connection requests to people. Some people accept everyone, some people ignore everyone. Some people like connection messages, some people don’t. Just do what feels right for you.
(I send a little message to say hi because I think it is polite...but I get kinda annoyed when people do that back to me. We're all weirdos in our own way. Just own it and crack on).
Step 2 is to engage
Don’t just connect and creep back into the shadows. Get out there and get to know people. Everyone is on LinkedIn for the same reason – to network – so get to it.
Post on your page and invite people’s opinions
Scroll through your feed and leave comments on other people’s posts
Send messages to people asking to learn more about what they do
Be active on LinkedIn and you’ll find people start sending connection requests to you too.
Step 3 is to ignore the trolls
Sadly, like most social networks, LinkedIn has its fair share of idiots. People who’ll troll you and say crappy things. Ignore those a*holes.
Be yourself, be personable, show personality...and just accept mean comments can come with the territory. Don’t let bullies stop you using this powerful tool for career development.
3. Search for jobs
LinkedIn is a great place to search for jobs. You can even apply for jobs through LinkedIn too. Don’t do this until your profile is up to scratch though. Applying for a job through LinkedIn when your profile isn’t complete is like sending in a half-finished application form. It is the fast track to the recycle bin.
Finding jobs on LinkedIn is easy. There are two main functions.
Click the JOBS button in the header to get to the job search page.
Use the search bar at the top of the page and refine the results by JOBS.
Want to know another way to find jobs on LinkedIn? Search in CONTENT too.
Many people ask for recommendations about potential staff from their network. So think what someone might include in a post if they wanted to hire someone like you, then search for that.
For example, someone might post ‘Can anyone recommend a digital marketing expert?’ or ‘Does anyone know a solicitor?’.
Once a week, search ‘recommend a [job title]’ and refine by CONTENT to see if anyone is searching for someone like you.
Remember, if you then connect with that person, they’ll see your profile. Make sure it is completed properly and paints you in the best possible light. I'll be writing about this next. (If you want help writing your profile, get in touch to ask for a quote).
4. Let jobs come to you
One of the great features of LinkedIn is that recruiters can come directly to you. To make this possible, you need to let them know you're open to opportunities.
Open your LinkedIn profile
Go to your Dashboard
Open Career Interests
Turn on the ‘Let recruiters know you’re open’ button
Again, you need to make sure your profile is in great shape before you do this. Letting recruiters know you’re open to opportunities but having a shoddy profile is like turning up to interview in your dressing gown and slippers. You’re not going to make a good impression.
One of the most important things to get right is your headline. LinkedIn automatically sets this as your current job title and employer. But you can edit it. And you should.
When people see you on LinkedIn, they’ll see your name and headline. So make that headline count. Make sure it includes the words people will be searching for if they want to hire you, eg Experienced accountant, CIM-qualified marketer.
Some people change their headline to say just ‘Seeking new opportunities’. This is NOT helpful. People won’t know anything about what you do or have to offer. Always include your experience first. Eg. CIM-qualified marketer seeking new opportunities.
To change your headline:
Click on your photo at the top of the page
Click View profile.
Click the Edit icon in your introduction card.
In the Edit intro pop-up window, make your changes in the Headline text box.
5. Stay in the know about industry trends
This is important for people who are currently out of work.
One of the hardest things about being unemployed is that you feel your knowledge loses currency every day. And that if you get an interview, you’ll answer a question with info that isn’t up-to-date any more.
LinkedIn to the rescue! By actively networking with people on LinkedIn who work in your sector, you can see the conversations that are happening right now. You can see what people are working on, thinking up, worried about.
So that when you get an interview and someone asks:
‘You’ve been out of the sector for 10 months. How do you keep up to date with what’s going on?’
You can say you still actively network with people in the field, and then bring up some totally topical stuff to talk about. Happy days!
About the author
Libby is a freelance copywriter and content marketer from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She worked in marketing and communications for 18 years before turning freelance in 2019. She's written for big brands and boutique businesses, crafting customer-friendly marketing content for print and online.