It’s no secret that LinkedIn is the top professional social networking site with 154 million users in the U.S. alone and 590 million worldwide. According to recent statistics, LinkedIn now has over 26 million companies and 15 million active job listings. With more than 90 percent of recruiters using LinkedIn on a regular basis, job seekers should be leveraging LinkedIn to network and look for job opportunities. If you’re wondering how to use LinkedIn to find a job, the following concrete tips can help you maximize LinkedIn to its fullest to secure employment.

1. Boost the potential of your LinkedIn profile

If you’re only updating your profile now and then, you’re not using all LinkedIn can do for you. To maximize the potential of your LinkedIn profile, you need to keep your profile up to date, be comprehensive about current skills and objectives, and highlight your recent experience. The more complete and the fresher your information, the more opportunities you’ll accrue.

  • Add a profile photo. LinkedIn members with a profile picture are 14 times more likely to receive page views.
  • Start by identifying the type of role you want and tailor your profile towards it. Keywords are key when recruiters conduct searches so update your headline. Your headline should stand out and highlight what you do or what type of position you’re looking for.
  • Don’t neglect the “Skills” section. There are more than 45,000 skills to choose from to beef up your profile. Per LinkedIn research, almost 89 percent of professionals feel that skills are more important than job titles. Emphasizing your skills is a must.
  • Highlight recent experience. You want your recent experience evident to anyone who views your page, especially when you’re actively engaging with connections and companies to secure your next job.
  • Let them know you’re available. Switching the toggle to “Yes” on the “Let your recruiters know you’re open” tool under the “Career interests” section of “Jobs,” will make your profile more searchable for recruiters who use LinkedIn to find talent.

2. Be active and engage

As with any other social network, you must actively participate in order to reap all the benefits LinkedIn has to offer. You can’t just sit on the fence. You have to be all in. Effective networking is about building relationships. It’s critical to take the time to connect with people and effectively use them to aide in your job search.

  • Build your network to the first degree. The more connections you have, the better your chances of finding someone who will help with your job search. Employers often look for referrals from their own employees to fill positions before opening a job to the masses.
  • Search for jobs on LinkedIn by clicking the “Jobs” tab, entering a keyword and location. You can save job searches and even receive emails about new job listings.
  • Use Search to research the companies you’re interested in and follow them. This will help you stay in the know about company news and new positions as they become available. Many companies post job openings on their LinkedIn pages.
  • Get involved in LinkedIn Groups. This will help expand your network, show your expertise, and possibly connect you to the organizations you want to work for in the future.
  • Be more than a wallflower. Only 3 million users share content weekly—that’s just a touch over one percent of monthly users. Post articles, videos, and so on, as updates. The more you engage as a professional, the more you’ll be noticed and build recognition.

3. Be bold and reach out directly

Be proactive not reactive. Know who the heavyweight recruiters are in your industry and reach out to them directly. Have your resume and references on hand, at least two references are recommended.

  • When reaching out directly to a recruiter or potential employer, write a succinct, personalized message—don’t just copy your cover letter. You want to stand out from the crowd. Typing something personal will get you so much further than using the automatically-generated greetings.
  • Capitalize on your connections. If you’d rather not reach out directly, ask for an introduction. If you know someone at the company, consider requesting a LinkedIn recommendation which can help boost credibility in the eyes of employers.
  • If you can’t find a mutual connection to refer you, reach out to the company through a common group. Write a good message to them that stands out from the crowd.
  • Endorsements from network contacts for various skills and competencies are also a good tactic. The best way to receive endorsements is to give some to your contacts first. They will then be more likely to do the same for you in return.
  • Actively follow up with recruiters and hold them accountable. Don’t fear feedback. There’re lessons to be learned from rejection.

Above all else, remember to be authentic. Be yourself, represent who you are. This is not a resume… leveraging LinkedIn is a more dynamic approach to representing your experiences and connecting with future employers. By following these three tips, you can use LinkedIn to its fullest to expand your professional network and help land your next job.

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