LinkedIn
LinkedIn opens up doors of opportunities for its users to connects with employers and other professionals. (Illustration by Giovanna Martin, Columbia College Chicago)

How To Leverage LinkedIn, the Social Media for Employment

Navigating the website can be challenging in an ever-changing job market, so here’s a breakdown of how to maximize your presence on the professional platform.

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LinkedIn

Navigating the website can be challenging in an ever-changing job market, so here’s a breakdown of how to maximize your presence on the professional platform.

Careers and internships and jobs, oh my! As one approaches a brand new and potentially confusing chapter of life, one may find that its grandeur and unfamiliarity feels like skipping into Oz, arm-in-arm with anxiety and a lack of knowledge.

What Is LinkedIn?

One established tool that can help you on your journey is the social media platform LinkedIn. You may or may not already be one of the 756 million members who has access to its resources, but one needs to know how to use the tools, not just possess them. According to the Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report 2016, when employers are looking to hire someone, 87% of recruiters turn to LinkedIn to fill their positions. With significant numbers pointing to the use of LinkedIn by recruiters in recent years, it’s important to learn how to leverage the platform.

Some of the features that distinguish LinkedIn from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat can be found in the Jobs tab. When you click on it, a list of current job openings based on your profile appears. You can also take professional courses like Data Visualization to help enhance your portfolio.

LinkedIn is often used as a networking tool to connect with individuals whose passions are similar to yours. Whether you’re a baker or launching into real estate investment, there are people on LinkedIn who have significant experience in such fields. Connecting with them to ask questions or hear their stories can be beneficial, especially if you’re just starting out.

Not only can you connect with employers, but you can also build your network by connecting with friends and family to help strengthen and expand your connections. The purpose of LinkedIn is to showcase the accomplishments of its users and to string together various professionals from all over the globe. LinkedIn is also one of the oldest popularly used social media platforms; it recently celebrated its 18th birthday, after launching on May 5, 2003.

How Employers Use LinkedIn

Perhaps you’ve experienced the thrill of your phone buzzing with a LinkedIn notification. A private message from a recruiter pops up on your screen, and a rush of excitement washes over you. That is, until you notice it was only a mass text sent to many people with similar professional backgrounds as yours. One way that recruiters use LinkedIn is by reaching out to several candidates at a time. As impersonal as it may seem, the message still matters. Because as soon as you reply to their message, then the conversation truly begins.

One other way that employers use LinkedIn is by posting job openings. Each position lists the location, when the job was posted and how many applicants already applied. The LinkedIn website boasts about the fact that there are currently over 15 million job postings available on the site.

What Recruiters Look For

Recruiters spoke to CNBC.com to tell them which elements of a LinkedIn profile put candidates ahead. According to the CNBC article, they specifically want to read a full About section so that they can learn more about you as a person. Another point that was heavily emphasized by recruiters was the importance of filling out every section of the profile. A complete profile helps recruiters know about your awards and achievements, but it also means that your name will show up more prominently in searches. This is called search engine optimization, a term commonly used in web development, though it also applies to LinkedIn.

When you apply to a job and a recruiter looks at your profile, one thing they want to see is regular activity on the platform. An active presence shows that you prioritize your professional network and interact with it. By regularly posting about topics or stories within your field of study or profession, you show that you’re up-to-date on the trends that impact your field. In contrast, inactivity and an incomplete profile reflect poorly on the candidate. Less engagement communicates that you’re not eager to thrive professionally, and if an employer messages you, it may be weeks before you see their message.

One thing to know about LinkedIn is that it’s not like other social media platforms where you solely connect with your friends and interact with people you know personally. On LinkedIn, it’s normal and expected that you would reach out to strangers in order to grow your network. If you only have a few connections on the website, it appears as if you’re not trying to grow professionally. Use the search bar to find other people in your field and send them a message introducing yourself. Expanding your web of contacts is valuable.

How To Use It for Networking

Networking: This can be one of the most intimidating concepts to young professionals. Where do you start? What do you say? What is expected of you? Should you use exclamation points in your messages? Individuals often overthink the meaning of the concept, but networking through LinkedIn can be simple.

After you find people who work in your field, send them a short message on LinkedIn to introduce yourself. Once you connect with them, you now have clearance to interact with their posts and can send another message requesting a longer conversation about the work that you both do.

Make sure to remember the first rule of networking, however. Don’t meet with them so that they can give you a job. Talk to them so you can learn from someone who’s been in your field longer than you. As you continue to make connections, your network may be able to point you toward jobs that would be an appropriate fit for your skills, interests and experiences.

How To Go Beyond LinkedIn

Now that you have a stunning LinkedIn profile, you can rub elbows with others in your field and post semi-regularly on the site. It’s time to push open the large wooden door of your home on the LinkedIn page and step outside to explore other networking options.

Get coffee with people. Become familiar with other online job boards like Handshake and Indeed. Send emails to people and make phone calls. Travel and stay in touch with the people you meet. Send fruit baskets to people in your network. Ultimately, it is your drive and determination that will make you a successful networker, not the website through which you network.

Writer Profile

Briana Byus

Biola University
Journalism & Integrated Media

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