After graduating college, I packed up all of my essentials and moved to New York to find a job, which was a pretty stupid idea because I didn't actually know how to find a job. The advice that I got was to walk into stores and ask if they were hiring or to make a profile on Monster.com and apply there.
As someone who did both of these things, let me tell you that it doesn't really work. Unless you're looking to work at a small boutique store, no one is really taking applications in store, and if you've ever tried Monster.com, you know that site is pretty ancient. After two months of not hearing back from anyone after applying to jobs on Monster, I decided to find other resources to help me with my job hunt, and single best resource that has helped me with networking and job hunting has been LinkedIn. Here's why:
Most people that are looking for jobs today know that they need to set up a LinkedIn account but many people also don't really know how it works. The simplest explanation is that your LinkedIn account is a social media supplement to your resume and cover letter, and it also works as massive database of potential hires for a recruiter to mine through. But, what do those two things actually mean?
From a job application perspective, just about every hiring manager will look you up on LinkedIn after you've made it passed the pre-screening round. The reason most people do this is because your profile on LinkedIn will give them a better understanding of who you are. The photo you choose, the types of details you put on your previous/current jobs, the skills you have, the schools you've attended, and the other people you are connected with. That last bit is pretty important because, as you continue to climb the career ladder, it is often the factor that determines whether you land the job or you're passed up for one. When someone is on the fence about your qualifications, it really does come down to who you know and what connections you might bring to the company.
The second benefit of a strong LinkedIn profile is that recruiters for jobs you never even heard of will be able to find you. Whether you're happy with your current job or you're looking to make a move quickly, a fully developed profile will allow a recruiter to find you, see if you're a potential candidate for a job they're looking to fill, and most importantly, gives the recruiter an email address to reach you at. When you're first looking for a job, this won't be nearly as important, but as you gain more experience and you receive a promotion or two, you'll begin to appear more frequently on recruiters searches for potential hires. The more robust your profile, the higher the chance you'll come up in a search.
So, to close, here's three quick tips to help you create a better LinkedIn profile:
- Add a photo of yourself. One that's professional and shows people a little bit about who you are.
- Add detailed explanations of what you do or projects you're proud of for all of your previous jobs. This will increase the likelihood of you coming up in a search, and if a hiring manager is doing a background check on you, it'll show them all the great things you've done.
- Add people in your network that you know to grow your network. Nothing is stranger than looking someone up and finding out they only have a handful of connections. You don't need to go crazy and add everyone, but as I said earlier, the more quality connections you have the more appealing you look to a new employer.