Ever wondered how to make your profile stand out on LinkedIn, or whether people who use the site actually find jobs with it? I definitely have, so when I got the opportunity to talk to someone who knows the ins and outs of using the site from a hiring perspective, I jumped at it.
The result: the following Q&A with Erin Osterhaus, an HR analyst at Software Advice, an online resource for reviews and comparisons of HR software. Prior to our Q&A, she sat down with one of LinkedIn’s senior product recruiters to learn about their best practices for hiring, and how job seekers can use LinkedIn more effectively to help increase their profile visibility with recruiters.
Q: What do job seekers/ candidates need to know about how HR professionals use LinkedIn?
Erin: First of all, job seekers should know that HR professionals are using LinkedIn—extensively. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile and you’re on the job hunt, get one.
Second, in addition to keeping your profile updated, job seekers should also be sure to use LinkedIn’s social features. Join groups, follow influencers, and post content relevant to your field in your own feed. This sort of activity helps recruiters know you mean business, and that you’re engaged and committed in your professional field.
Q: What things can candidates do to make sure their profiles are appearing in search results (especially for relevant positions)?
Erin: Once you have a LinkedIn account, you have the option to indicate your industry in the header section of your profile. Make sure you list your current industry, or the industry you would like to be a part of. Additionally, fill out your summary. Especially if you’re just starting out in your career, letting recruiters know what you’re looking for, and how your past experience relates to those goals is helpful information.
Also, be sure to incorporate relevant keywords in your header and throughout your profile. I think this is especially important if you’re looking to make a career shift to a different type of role or a new industry. Look at the keywords in the descriptions of the jobs you want, and be sure to find ways to use them in your profile.
And joining relevant groups is another great way to rank higher in LinkedIn searches. Groups increase your network, and the bigger your network is, the more likely you are to show up in a search by a recruiter or HR manager. Recruiters tend to hang out where the talent is, so you may even land a job just by casually interacting with members of industry groups.
Q: Any do's/don'ts for candidate profiles?
Erin: Don’t–leave your profile to rot. Keep it updated with current information. Even if you’re not looking for a job at the moment.
Do–be active. Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry. Participate in discussions and share content on your profile that is relevant to your field.
Q: Are connections on LinkedIn important in terms of HR search function?
Erin: From the conversations I’ve had and research I’ve gathered, it’s my opinion that the more connections you have, the more likely you are to appear in search results. This also may help you to appear closer to the top of the list. While many recruiters have a LinkedIn Recruiter account that enables them to see any profile, even if it’s outside of their network, many recruiters can’t or don’t want to shell out the big bucks for an upgraded account. These recruiters can only see first, second and third degree connections as well as anyone who is in a group they’ve joined. This makes growing your network and joining groups crucial, especially if you want to get picked up by a startup or a smaller organization.
Q: Any other tips for candidates on using LinkedIn as part of their job search?
Erin: I think engagement is the best advice I could give a job seeker. Don’t just join groups–you also need to participate in them. Become a regular contributor to the conversation and people will start to remember you. Post interesting content on your feed and respond to anyone who comments on it. Comment on other people’s interesting content. It’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to network these days, no name tag or awkward elevator pitch required.
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