Millions of people joined LinkedIn because they're job hunting, but most of them aren't taking full advantage of the site. Sure, they create an online profile and add recommendations, but there's a lot more you can -- and should do -- on LinkedIn if you want to find a new job. With 170 million-plus members, many of them recruiters, and countless discussions groups, LinkedIn can jumpstart your job search.
Here are 3 ways:
1. Develop human resource and recruiting contacts.
Put together a list of companies that you want to work for and look up the human resource and recruiting contacts at that company via LinkedIn. (You can find that via the search tool.)
Then, be resourceful. Google the person's name, and you will find his or her email address at work. Send an email, telling the person what kind of position you are looking for and ask them if they have advice for you. Keep these emails no more than two paragraphs and attach a resume and customized cover letter. Remember, you never want to insert the cover letter into the body of an email. Keep it saved as a separate attachment so the person can look it over when they have time.
Most people aren't comfortable making cold-calls, emailing blindly, or corresponding with people they aren't personally connected with. That's a mistake. These recruiters and HR officers are always on the look out for talent; you'll be leaving opportunities on the table if you don't reach out. You won't hear back from everyone, but that one person who does get back to you could change your career path forever.
2. Add to your connections once a week.
One of the downfalls to any social media network is that it takes up a lot of time and people often spend more time following other people than they do focusing on themselves. You can make the most of LinkedIn without it taking over your life. I suggest picking one day each week and that can be your LinkedIn Day -- your day to spend an hour or so connecting with people via the website. Make sure that anyone you are emailing with, meeting at conferences, or meeting through friends is a connection on LinkedIn. This will help build out your personal and professional network.
3. Follow target companies and connect with employees.
Find your companies of interest (at least 10) on LinkedIn. Click the Follow button and on a weekly basis, monitor their updates. Many companies also have a separate tab that says Careers or Employee Insights, both of these are very helpful in terms of finding recruitment contacts and hearing more information about hiring at that company. Many even post the actual job listings.
Reach out to the employees at the company through your connections. Don't be afraid to ask mutual friends for an introduction to that person via LinkedIn or personal email. (You can also follow news on LinkedIn Today. Here's AOL Jobs' page.)
4. Expand your network through discussion groups.
Join groups within your industry; there are also college alumni groups. To find out which groups best suit you, look up individuals who have the job titles you would want. Which groups are they members of? Also look up former co-workers and see who they are networking with.
Once you've joined the group, get caught up on the recent communication. Has anyone posted about jobs in the past? Perhaps they still have an opportunity or have a new opportunity? Take some time to scroll through the group members and connect with anyone of interest.
A great way to get connected is to ask for advice. Remember, everyone loves to share tips and talk about their experiences.
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