Job seekers often ask me if recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidates. The answer is a resounding “yes.” Over 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. Amazingly, only 45% of unemployed job seekers have LinkedIn profiles. I collected data and wrote about my results in an article a few years ago, but the results are just as relevant today. Needless to say, LinkedIn can be a valuable asset for your professional life. Furthermore, your presence on the network must be regularly maintained. If you want to easily find job opportunities or connect with others in your industry, then use LinkedIn often. The results can help accelerate your job search.
Setting up a LinkedIn profile, fully completing your profile, branding and optimizing your headline (to get the maximum number of profile views), and making connections are great first starts. However, you can use the site for so much more. LinkedIn is a great way to keep track of your network, reach out to potential employers, be contacted by recruiters with enticing job offers, join industry groups, and to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Everyday of the week you can do something different on LinkedIn in order to get real results in your job search. Think about getting multiple job offers, and dramatically reducing the length of your job search.
I suggest taking our 7 Days of LinkedIn Challenge only after your profile is complete and branded. Here’s a good question to ask to assess if your profile is branded– “If someone was doing a search for professionals like me, am I explaining why they would want ME over any other equally qualified professionals?”
Once your profile is complete and branded (if it already isn’t), then move on to our LinkedIn challenge.
Monday: Identify target companies, associated contacts, and hiring managers
Create a target list of all the companies where you would like to work, using your personal criteria as a guide. Use LinkedIn to find companies by using the search menu at the top of the page and select “Companies.”
After you select Companies, leave the search bar empty. Just click on the search option and this will bring up the entire list of companies on LinkedIn. There’s are well over 7.6 million companies on the site, so we’re going to need to trim this list.
Locate the “Search” options in the far left sidebar to narrow the list. The options in the list include “Location,” “Job Opportunities,” “Industry,” “Relationships,” “Company Size,” “Number of Followers,” and “Fortune.”
If you have more than 50 results, narrow the list by using the options bar on the left. As you select each category, the list of results will become smaller.
Tip: Avoid restricting your job search efforts by checking the “Job Opportunities” box, as you don’t want to limit your efforts to companies only hiring on LinkedIn. One of your goals is to establish relationships with individuals within companies who can present you with unadvertised job opportunities. The contacts, once rapport is built, will be providing insights that will enable you to qualify the employer further, and once you effectively portray your value, an introduction to hiring managers will be an easier request to make and fulfill.
The “Relationship” option is a great tool for finding connections inside of a potential employer. These connections can make it easier to get an introduction to a hiring manager, especially if you have first degree connections.
If you have a preference for company size, go ahead and choose the size of the companies you’d like to work for using the “Company Size” option. Company size can range from 1-10 employees up to 10,000+. Your search results will depend on the size of your network. Twenty five to fifty targets is a good number for your starting point.
To further narrow the list, use the “Keyword” search to look for jobs within your industry. To find “Keywords,” click on the “Advanced” under the “Search” options, select “Jobs” and the Keywords options will appear.
Click on a company’s profile and select “Follow” to receive updates and messages. You can also select “How You’re Connected” to search the company profiles for any associated contacts who may work within the company.
Your connections may consist of first degree contacts within a target. If you find yourself without first degree contacts, don’t worry. The “How You’re Connected” can help you to locate potential connections. In the list of employees, your connection degree will appear next to their name.
Tip: When adding target companies, similar companies, and checking out the career paths of employees within those companies, ask yourself- “Where did they get recruited from?” These need to be included, but perhaps not together. It makes more sense to check out career histories while you are checking out people who work there or worked there as prospective target contacts.
You can also learn more about your potential connections by checking out their profiles on other social networks and following them. A person may even include links to their other social networks within their LinkedIn profile page. This information can be found in “Contact Info” right under their profile picture. The point isn’t to ask these connections for a job, or even if the company is hiring. You ultimately want your connections to introduce you to a hiring manager.
Using LinkedIn to find hiring managers at your target employers is an ideal scenario. After all, they are the ones who will be responsible for giving you an interview and may even be your next boss. That said, don’t rule out other contacts within a company. All contacts related to a company are a potential source of valuable information and a potential point of entry into the company, as well as a potential sponsor who can help you garner the attention of and interest of a hiring manager.
To find a company’s hiring manager, go to the “Advanced People Search” page. You can locate this page by going to the search bar at the top of LinkedIn and clicking “Advanced” which is located next to the search bar. Once you’re in the Advanced Search section your, search options will include “keywords,” “First Name,” “Last name,” “Company,” and more. Search by Company and Title. Try various management titles within your industry to discover the hiring manager. (Note: There is a limit to how many times you can search for contacts each month if you have a free account.)
Keywords related to function can help you generate results when you’re guessing between several potential titles. Include keywords that would be associated with their oversight of your role, like “KPIs,” “performance,” “development,” or “strategy.” Even if you come across a profile that isn’t a hiring manager, you can check “People Similar to X” or “People also viewed,” which can uncover new target companies, as well. Try using a Google search to cross-reference a hiring manager with titles at the company to be certain you have the right person. You can also use Data.com and Zoominfo.com to validate contacts or titles.
Tuesday: Research those target companies
Now that you have a list of target companies, contacts within the companies, and the names of hiring managers, you’re going to research them every Tuesday. You want to learn more about an organization to make sure that they meet your criteria. Your research will help you target people and companies more effectively. In my article, “10 Surprising Websites and 2 Secret Places Where You Can Research Employers” I detail various the websites you can visit to learn more about an employer.
Use the information you gathered from the websites listed above and cross-reference them with your criteria lists. Your criteria lists consist of the conditions you want to take into consideration before proactively pursuing the target companies that fit your criteria. Your considerations can include your workplace environment, management, passions and interests, workplace flexibility, workplace culture, values, and even the types of relationships you’ll have with your co-workers. I wrote about using criteria to develop your ideal target company list and using criteria to identify your potential employers. Taking these steps will allow you to hone in on the companies you really want to work for and will leave you with very few surprises about your next employer. Employers also want you be knowledgeable about their company before you pursue employment opportunities with them. In our latest Epic Career Tales podcast, Emily Allen, Director of Employee Development at Seer Interactive, talks about how critical it is for their applicants to know something about Seer.
Wednesday: Message (or call) your connections
Contact your connections on Wednesdays. Message or (better yet, call) your LinkedIn connections first, using any criteria you were not able to identify as an agenda. For instance, if you wanted to know more about company’s workplace culture, values, or the management style. You can find a connection’s number by checking the “Contact Info” section of their profile. If they don’t have a phone number listed, you may have to ask them for it. Alternatively, if you have their number, you can edit the Contact Info section and add a number. You may also be able to find their number by using Zoominfo.com or Data.com.
Make sure you also ask the other person what they are working on when you contact them. This is an opportunity to help the person and to learn more about them, which demonstrates your value more than anything you can say. Offer ways that you can be of assistance. Ellen Weber, Executive Director of Robin Hood Ventures and Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, gave a specific example at her TEDxWalnutStWomen talk. In this example you don’t say, “Can I help?” or “How can I help?” You say, “Do you need a ride?”, “Do you need a referral?” or, “Is there something taking up too much of your time?” Find out exactly what your connection needs and help them.
If you want to ask one of your connections to make an introduction to someone you’d like to connect with, a warm personal introduction is ideal. That said, you can use LinkedIn’s tools to take the pressure off of your contacts, and if they seem at all uncomfortable, offer ANYTHING that makes it easier for them to help you.
To initiate an introduction with a potential connection on LinkedIn, go to the profile page of the person you want an introduction to, then go to “Get introduced” link. Next, choose one of your first degree contacts to make an introduction for you. You can find the “Get Introduced” option in a person’s profile. It’s a small arrow button to the right of “Connect” and “Send InMail”.
Once you click on the arrow button, a drop down menu will appear. “Get Introduced” will be the second option. Click this option and you’ll be taken to your inbox.
There you’ll be able to select one of your first degree connection to make an introduction for you. Once you have your connection selected, write your introduction request. Jason Alba’s article, “Killer LinkedIn Introduction Request” further details how to write a great introduction.
Before writing an introduction request targeted at a hiring manager (supervisor, or your next boss,) write a cover letter-quality letter to send along. Incorporate what you learned in research to craft your cover letter.
Thursday: Nurture your network and engage
Set Thursdays aside to help and engage with others on LinkedIn. Share great external content , start or engage in discussions, share jobs, comment on, or share posts. Sharing external content is a great value for your connections and followers, this content can be both educational and entertaining. It can consist of relevant news articles, personal stories from others, or great industry tips and tricks. Just remember to keep what you share appropriate and professional. If you’re passionate about an aspect of your industry, start up a conversation with your connections or within a group. These conversations can revolve around a topic in the news or an industry trend. (If you’re not passionate, get out of that industry!) If you see a conversation that interests you, join in. You ARE able to provide valuable insight to others while you’re engaging them about a particular topic- everyone has something of value to contribute. Sharing posts from the “Pulse” section is also a great way to bring value to your network, in addition to helping the author expand his or her audience.
Sharing jobs is another great way to help someone in your network by providing them with information. You can also share profiles with other connections to broker introductions for others. To share a profile, go to the profile of the connection you want to share, and select “Share Profile” from the menu under their name. Remember, LinkedIn is a great platform for personal branding, but you don’t want to use the platform to only talk about yourself. Reaching out to engage with others and to share valuable content can help establish you as a go-to person.
Friday: Expand your network
Search for and invite anyone you know, but think outside your usual circles. Your usual circles include colleagues, bosses, classmates, vendors and others. To expand your network, consider anyone you are on a first-name basis with (you’ll need either the last name or their first name and some other search criteria such as company name, college, etc.)- personal service providers like your barber or dentist, neighbors, the cashier at your favorite luncheonette, the front desk attendant at your gym, etcetera. These types of connections are often overlooked, but they can be just as valuable as co-workers and alumni. They can provide unique opportunities that may not have been available through your regular circle of contacts. I previously wrote about how to tap into these resources to generate job leads.
Fridays can also be the day that you send out invitations to people with whom you made a connection at networking events. If you had a meaningful conversation with someone at a networking event, reach out to them on LinkedIn. When you reach out to them, personalize your invitation so the recipient remembers where you met them, and that you’re serious about making a connection. Remember, the larger and more varied your network is, the easier it will be to find connections at potential employers and to generate momentum in your job search.
Saturday: Get acquainted with your network
Spend part of your Saturday getting better acquainted with people in your network. Send people who invite you to connect with your number and invite them to spend 15 to 30 minutes getting better acquainted and discovering how your mutual networks can support each other. Messaging people on social networks is one thing, but talking to them via a phone call can help build better rapport. Phone calls can add new dimensions to a relationship as it helps give communications a human touch. If someone seems to be a center of influence, meaning you can see they have multiple connections who can be beneficial to you, invest even more time and offer to treat them to coffee or a meal.
Just think about what is lost in text-based communication, such as intonation, intention (sometimes meaning is lost in text-based communication) and how much information you can convey to another person in a period of time. Consider how much more of a connection you can make with someone when you are able to look each other in the eyes. You’ll get a better sense of the other person, and the more you know about your network acquaintances, and the more they know about you, the easier it is to support one another.
Sunday: Review time
Use your Sundays to review your achievements for the week, set goals and plan your week ahead. Looking back on your achievements allows you appreciate what you’ve accomplished, see how much further you need to go, and adjust your strategy as needed. Setting goals for the week allows to reach your achievements. As you plan your goals for each week ask yourself a few questions:
- How many new connections do you want? – Pick the number of connections you want to make each week. Feel free to experiment with the number until you find the amount that works for you. You may find that you’ll start with a big number to help you get better search results, and as you exhaust certain realms of your life, the number of connections will get smaller until you will rely on networking to add contacts. You want to make meaningful connections with people, opposed to adding people you don’t know.
- How many target companies to identify? – Targeting and researching companies is a time consuming task. You don’t want to tackle too many companies at once otherwise you’ll spend all of your time researching. However, you do want to target enough companies per week to create and maintain job momentum. You want a total list of 25 to 50 potential companies, but focus on 5 (if you’re working full-time) or 10 (if you’re unemployed).
- How many meetings do you want to schedule? – Meeting-and-greeting people is an important part of the networking process. Decide on how many LinkedIn connections you can feasibly meet with or talk to within a week. If you’re working full-time you can easily achieve 2 meetings per week, and have a stretch goal of 4 per week. If you’re unemployed, you can attain 6 meetings each week with a stretch goal of 10 per week.
LinkedIn is a great tool for networking with others, finding employers and building your audience. Take our 7 Day Challenge and create a daily to-do-list. This list will consist of:
- Keeping your profile up-to-date
- Setting clear activities each week to find employers
- Sharing interesting content with your audience
- Engaging your audience
- Offering to help others
- Seeking to expand your network
- Getting acquainted with your network outside of LinkedIn
- Reviewing your daily actions every week and setting goals
Our LinkedIn challenge can greatly help your job search momentum, help employers find you, and expand your network. Imagine being able to tap into your network through LinkedIn and finding opportunities at any job of your choice. Imagine the freedom to choose your next employer and negotiate your own salary. This is the power that LinkedIn can bring to you.
Try our 7 Days of LinkedIn Challenge for 2 weeks, and comment below to share your results!