We read news stories daily about the unemployed and underemployed in today’s economy. Local job fairs have record turnout. With so much competition for each job opening, the modern job candidate needs to leverage every advantage. Here are a few suggestions to that end.
LinkedIn is the online professional network of choice. It should be the first stop for job hunters, with two primary targets.
1) Build your network. Once you have identified an opportunity, a key way to make an impression is a referral. LinkedIn makes it easy to see whether and how you are connected to a decision maker.
Start by pulling up a company’s listing in LinkedIn. The top-right search bar can be searched by people, jobs, companies or groups. If you get too many results, use the Advanced Search to narrow things down.
Look through the list of employees at the company, and pay particular attention to the badge to the right of their name. If it says “1st”, you’re already connected to someone at the company. If it says “2nd”, that person is connected to one of your existing connections. If it says “3rd”, you may have to work a bit harder, but you can still get yourself a virtual introduction that can help get the conversation started and separate you from the nameless and faceless job applicants that hiring managers and other decision-makers will be reviewing.
First, view the individual’s profile to whom you want to connect. See the box in the right sidebar, titled “How you’re connected to [this person]“. Identify a person connecting you to your target with whom you have the closest relationship, and send the connector a message asking for an introduction, explaining why you’re asking.
At the bottom of the target’s profile is a link: “Get introduced through a connection”. Once you’ve clicked it, the “How you’re connected” list appears. You can provide contact information for your target, as well as a message you’d like them to receive. Finish with a brief note for your intermediary, and hope for the best.
2) Once your target gets that request, they’re likely to go straight for your profile to review your education and experience. This is the other primary purpose of your LinkedIn account: your professional profile.
There is a lot of information you can provide. Start with the basics:
Then, flesh out your background. You have the flexibility to drag and drop to customize the order of different areas of your profile, so you can emphasize your strengths just like in a written résumé. If you’re currently out of work, perhaps you’d prefer to start with your summary and education. Or, it’s possible that prioritizing your “Volunteer Experience & Causes” will strike the right tone with your prospective employer, particularly if they’re a nonprofit or if you’ve been spending a good amount of energy volunteering while unemployed.
LinkedIn isn’t the only tool that can help. Especially for those who are pursuing technical, communications, or creative fields, publishing a blog can be a great way to show off your talents. Look for articles relevant to your interests and write about them. Show how you think, show off your good writing skills (so important in the workforce today), and show your dedication and discipline in publishing regularly. It’s a great chance for your prospective employer to get to know you and, again, it can set you apart. When you do get invited for an interview, put your website URL on your business card, along with your LinkedIn public profile URL.
Just because you’re without full-time employment doesn’t mean you have to be officially unemployed. You’ll be a writer, editor or publisher of an industry-focused website, and if you include Google AdSense advertisements on your website, you can at least create the appearance that you’ve developed a business for yourself. If you hit the right note and draw an audience, you might even earn a few bucks.
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