Online job hunting: The key to using LinkedIn

Published: July 7, 2013
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Represent yourself well, first impressions last the longest. PHOTO: REUTERS

LinkedIn is a social networking site designed specifically for those in the corporate world. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally. It is an excellent source of job listings and you can search and apply for jobs directly on the website.

In addition, you will be able to view and contact your LinkedIn connections at the company who may be able to direct you to an appropriate job and maybe even provide you with a reference.

LinkedIn has become, arguably, today’s most valuable job searching tool, providing its users with endless possibilities for networking, connecting with colleagues from the past, and promoting and developing their businesses. As great as this may sound, there are some user etiquette that every member should remember to conform to. Your use of this tool can be as damaging to your job prospects as it can be good.

Here are some tips on how to use LinkedIn to search for your next job:

Your profile is your reflection; make it perfect:

If you’re unsure of how to set up a profile, surf the internet and see how other people are doing it. Make sure your profile is filled out as completely (as close to a 100% complete as possible) and as accurately as can be (LinkedIn measures this for you). Be careful that your profile is a direct reflection of your resume – you don’t want to create any doubt in the mind of the people viewing your profile – this has a long term impact on your character. Read what they have asked of you, it is easy to make even the most common of mistakes. I have come across many people who have accidentally put their last name in the first name box!

Choose an appropriate profile photo:

Your profile picture should be as close to a professional headshot as possible, with a plain background and your complete head filling the little box. Don’t be Miss Fatima Webcam, Mr Rashid Selfie or Mrs Rehman Phone shot  Many employers are going to pull up your LinkedIn profile – so this may be the first time they see what you look like. Represent yourself well, first impressions last the longest.

Don’t try and connect with people you don’t know:

Most people I know that use LinkedIn are selective about to whom they connect with. My personal rule is that I have to have had a conversation with you at least once. If you’re interested in a job at a company, don’t try to add every single person who works at that organisation as a connection; send them a short note through LinkedIn and request an introduction.

Don’t be a LION:

A LION is a “LinkedIn Open Networker”, meaning they will connect with anyone and everyone.

LinkedIn is a business networking website not a social networking site; don’t confuse the two. Some of these people proudly boast their LION status on their profiles and talk about the many connections they have. There is no value in having such an extensive network when you don’t really know the people in it. It’s essentially like taking names and numbers out of the yellow pages to add them to your Rolodex – in simpler terms, utterly useless.

Request introductions appropriately:

One of the best things about LinkedIn is that you can request to be introduced to people you are not connected to through people you are already connected with. The way it works is that you click on the “request an introduction” icon and it sends a message to your connection asking for their help. If they want to help, they will forward your request to the person in question. What people often don’t realise is that the original message sent to your own connection is the one that is forwarded to the person you want to connect with. Make sure your initial message is professional.

Every little detail matters when it comes to job search and protecting your personal brand, and your LinkedIn profile is no different. Such public forums are easily accessible, and will be looked at. Put in the effort and you’ll reap the rewards.

When you’re job searching and don’t want your employer to know that you’re updating your LinkedIn profile, it’s a good idea to turn off your activity broadcasts for that time.

I hope this information is useful for those just starting out and everyone else who wasn’t aware of the workings of this website.

Good luck on the job search!

Nadia Adnan

Nadia Adnan

A marketing professional in a Singapore based company called Ethixbase. She plans to pursue her PHD from Switzerland. She tweets @UmmeAreeha

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.