What Are the Benefits of LinkedIn for Job Seekers?

Social media has redefined the expectations for people on the job hunt. LinkedIn, especially, is widely used by recruiters and hiring managers to find the best candidates for open positions. The benefits of LinkedIn for job seekers allow them to find new opportunities, reach a new audience, and build their professional networks.

In many career paths, you can no longer find a job simply by filling out applications and distributing resumes. Job seekers need to create an online presence that highlights their experience, abilities and connections. The benefits of LinkedIn for job seekers open new professional pathways that can further your career.

Why is LinkedIn Important?

LinkedIn is an employment and professional networking platform that first launched in 2003. The social media service quickly established itself as the internet’s premier destination for career opportunities in logistics and professional connections.

Owned by Microsoft since 2016, LinkedIn now boasts more than 600 million members and 14,000 employees. Put simply, joining LinkedIn is a must if you want access to the largest online network of recruiters, professional groups and job listings.

How Do I Use LinkedIn Effectively in My Job Search?

LinkedIn is easy to access, join and use. The award-winning service operates both through a website and a mobile app. Simply head to LinkedIn.com or install the app and create an account. Once you join, you can build your professional profile.

Updating Your Profile

LinkedIn guides you through creating the essential components of your page. Here are the sections you’ll need to fill in:

  • Headline: This is usually your current job title and employer. However, it is fully customizable, which is handy if you are a freelancer or seeking employment.
  • Summary: The summary is an overview in a few sentences of why people should connect with you. It should succinctly cover your background, abilities and professional goals. It’s a short story that gives users an idea of whether you are someone they should add you to their network.
  • Profile photo: Users should display a professional, high-quality headshot.
  • Experience: List your past jobs with a brief summary of the duties you held in each.
  • Education: Certain degrees are basic requirements for a wide variety of jobs. Make sure you don’t close a door by leaving off your educational achievements.
  • Skills: What sets you apart in the job market? List the skills and abilities you’ve developed in your career. Other users with whom you’ve worked will be able to “endorse” these skills, verifying your credibility to prospective employers.
  • Other: LinkedIn also offers fields for volunteer experience, certifications, projects and honors and awards.

From there, you can move on to expanding your professional network. Search for colleagues, mentors, classmates or other connections, filter by company to find others you’ve encountered, and join professional groups. Endorse your connections’ skills, and they’ll likely do the same for you.

Beyond the basic free membership, LinkedIn also offers different tiers of paid memberships that offer expanded features and capabilities.

Does LinkedIn Work for Job Seekers?Does LinkedIn Work for Job Seekers

For any job seeker, having a LinkedIn page is advantageous. A 2016 report by Jobvite found that 87 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to check candidates. It was by far the top social media platform used for this purpose, followed by Facebook at just 43 percent.

A presence on the most popular career website exposes you to recruiters, hiring managers and human resources professionals seeking to fill important positions in organizations of all sizes. For this reason alone, it is worthwhile to spend a short amount of time to put together a LinkedIn page.

But does LinkedIn “work?" That depends on two things: 1) How you define success, and 2) Your own level of engagement.

If you are expecting to land a job just by setting up a profile on LinkedIn, you’re bound to be disappointed. LinkedIn isn’t a guarantee of anything; rather, it’s a tool to improve your chances of finding appealing opportunities. And it’s on you to learn how to use the tool.

LinkedIn will be most effective if you take the time to make your profile as attractive as possible, build your professional network, and engage with people. The chance to create connections is the most valuable aspect of the service. What you get out of LinkedIn depends on what you put into it.

The Biggest Advantages of Using LinkedIn

The benefits of LinkedIn for job seekers go beyond simply finding new job listings to apply to. The service grows your professional network and bolsters your value on the job market by giving credence to your resume. Using LinkedIn effectively can help your career in a variety of ways.

Increase Your Exposure to Recruiters and Hiring Managers

The vast majority of recruiters make use of LinkedIn when screening candidates. A good LinkedIn profile can help you stand out from the field.

Why are recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources professionals so drawn to LinkedIn? In its 2015 global trends report, LinkedIn found that using its service was more likely to produce quality candidates for employers.

  • New employees found through LinkedIn are 40 percent less likely to leave the company within six months
  • Hires through LinkedIn are twice as likely to be “above average hires”
  • LinkedIn was identified as the number one source of quality hires

Having a strong LinkedIn presence makes it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to find you. But that’s not all -- it also gives them more confidence that you will thrive as an employee. Your LinkedIn page features endorsements from past managers and colleagues that will assure prospective employers that you can be counted on.

Expand Your Professional Networking on LinkedInExpand Your Professional Networking on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, it’s essential to cast a wide net. To take advantage of the site’s full range of benefits, you need a substantial professional network. The more connections you have, the more likely it is you will have access to the people who could make a difference in your career opportunities.

With a basic LinkedIn membership, you are only permitted to contact members with whom you share a connection -- this is called a second-degree connection. It behooves you to connect with as many people as possible with whom you’ve interacted in professional, scholastic or social settings. When a job opportunity arises, you want the best chance possible of being able to reach out to someone at the company.

Should I Connect with Everyone on LinkedIn?

After joining LinkedIn, you will inevitably receive requests for connections from people whom you’ve never met. These people will often have more than 500 connections, a detailed profile page, and a glossy, high-quality profile photo. Their aim is to build up as many connections as possible.

Don’t feel obligated to accept these requests. While building a big network on LinkedIn is important, you want those connections to be meaningful and useful. If the only connection you share with a hiring manager is superficial, you probably won’t be able to leverage that link into a real interaction. Inflating your list of connections with random internet gadflies doesn’t really benefit you.

See Who’s Interested in You

Unlike most other social media platforms, LinkedIn lets you know when someone is viewing your profile. This can give you a heads up if a certain company is looking to hire someone like you, and give you an idea of the type of LinkedIn user your profile is attracting.

However, much of the information comes at a cost. Basic free membership to LinkedIn will only give you limited visibility into who is viewing your profile. For example, the site might tell you the person’s job title or employer but withhold their name. To get the full run-down, you’ll have to pony up for a premium subscription.

Find Job Listings on LinkedIn

In addition to serving as a professional networking platform, LinkedIn is also its own job board. Browsing opportunities on LinkedIn has its advantages compared to other online job boards. When you find a listing on LinkedIn, you can immediately see whether you know anyone at the company. You can also navigate to the employer’s page for information about the company’s background and culture.

Maintain Connections with Colleagues and Employers

Some of LinkedIn’s benefits will only reveal themselves over time. Keeping up with the professional paths of people you’ve encountered throughout your career can lead to new opportunities down the line. A one-time classmate might, decades later, end up in an influential position at a firm you’d love to work at. That meager connection could be the foot in the door that leads to a new job.

Beyond direct job opportunities, keeping up with your past colleagues, managers, and other acquaintances can lead to second-degree connections that you would’ve otherwise missed out on.

Consider offering congratulations when these people get promoted or change jobs, comment when they open discussions and respond if they reach out to you. That way, when you need something from them, the request won’t seem so cynical and transactional.

Get Endorsements on Your Experiences and SkillsGet Endorsements on Your Experience and Skills

When a recruiter or hiring manager looks over a resume, all they know is that the candidate claims to have the listed experiences, skills and qualifications. They won’t know for sure until they’ve followed up with references, and they probably don’t have the bandwidth to do that for every decent candidate. Even when they do reach out to references, they’re only getting the opinion of a few people.

Contrast that with the experience on LinkedIn. Because your connections can endorse your skills, recruiters can easily see that multiple people vouch for your abilities and qualifications for the role. This alone won’t land you a job, but it can help move you past the initial screening of applications.

Research Prospective Employers and Future Colleagues

Joining LinkedIn isn’t just about putting yourself out there. You can use it for your own investigation and research into possible opportunities. Whether you find an interesting job listing, get invited in for an interview, or receive an offer, you can get a sense of the potential employer from LinkedIn.

For example, you might consider looking at the pages of past and current employees -- check their experience section to see how long they stayed at the company, whether they were promoted, and whether they have endorsements and recommendations from colleagues. This can give you an idea of how well the company retains employees, encourages development, and fosters a supportive culture.

You might even find that you share a connection with a current or former employee of the company you’re considering. Don’t hesitate to reach out to ask about their experience. People are often eager to share their feelings.

Connect with Professional Groups on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, you don’t have to be on your own. Members often form groups over shared alma maters, workplaces, industries or job titles. In these groups, members will often share job opportunities -- but that’s not all. You can make connections, find mentors, or even discuss issues relevant to your shared interest. These groups can be great for professional networking or gaining new insights into your career path.

Find Content Relevant to Your Career

As much as LinkedIn is unique, it also has many of the same functions as other social media platforms: People use it to share interesting and relevant content with friends, followers and the world. By connecting with people actively engaged in your field, you can stay up to date on interesting discussion topics and other industry news.

Even people in different career paths might share relevant information -- it could be about motivational strategies, management styles, or other topics that you can use to improve your working life.

What are the Downsides of LinkedIn?What are the Downsides of LinkedIn

Unless you’re a reclusive anonymous author or an escaped convict on the lam, there’s no real reason not to put up a LinkedIn profile. Having a professional online presence and a well thought-out profile page can only serve to make you more appealing to recruiters and hiring managers. However, there are a few possible downsides to be aware of.

Email Overload

LinkedIn became infamous for clogging inboxes with messages asking people to join their professional network. Often, these emails would be “from” members that had no idea the messages were being sent.

The problem was so rampant that a class action lawsuit successfully argued that the overzealous emailing had hurt people’s professional reputations. LinkedIn settled for $13 million. While the issue has abated, it’s still common to receive frequent emails from the site about updates.

Premium Prodding

LinkedIn thrives on its paid subscriptions -- and it wants you to sign up. At times, it can be frustrating to navigate the site with only a free membership. There are constant reminders of new features you can access for just $29.99 a month, such as full details of people who have visited your profile.

If you do elect to upgrade to a premium membership, you might find it difficult to gauge whether it’s a worthwhile investment. After all, there is no guarantee of a job offer, and some of its other benefits are tough to quantify.

How to Make the Most of Using LinkedIn

If you want to reap all of the benefits of LinkedIn, you have to put a little effort into it. Here’s how to leverage LinkedIn to the fullest extent.

  • Go deep. It’s ok -- and, in fact, encouraged -- to be detailed on LinkedIn. While your resume should be a succinct rundown of your experience and skills, your LinkedIn page can be as in-depth as you want without making recruiters roll their eyes.
  • Make yourself easy to find. A thorough page will offer a bevy of searchable information -- whether it’s your past employers, certifications, or job titles -- that will make it a cinch for How to Make the Most of Using LinkedInrecruiters to find you for positions that fit.
  • Write a grabbing headline. Especially if you’re seeking new opportunities, your headline should convey succinctly what you want prospective employers to know about yourself.
  • Follow companies that you want to work for. Just because you don’t have a connection to a certain company doesn’t mean you can’t stay on top of what it’s up to. You can follow company pages to see when job opportunities appear.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out. It’s important to be proactive on LinkedIn. People are busy, and new opportunities won’t often come to you. When you see a chance to connect with someone who could offer career insights or help get your resume in front of a hiring manager, send a polite message.
  • Don’t be spammy. This is the flip side of the above tip. While you need to be active, choose your spots carefully. All of your messages should be thoughtful and aimed at specific people. Don’t send out blasts will-nilly to large groups of people -- you’ll come off as frivolous and annoying.
  • Updating your profile is a must. You never know when someone might be checking it out your profile. Even if you’re not actively job searching, don’t let your LinkedIn page go dormant. If people are interested in you, you want them to be getting the most relevant information possible.
  • Give recommendations and endorsements. The easiest way to get recommendations and endorsements from your connections is by giving them out to others. If you endorse someone’s skills, they’ll often be happy to repay the favor.
  • Choose your language carefully. Avoid jargon, cliches, and vague terms. A recruiter might not be versed in all the insider language of your field, so as much as possible, write in an accessible way that can be understood by a general audience.
  • Join the conversation. Don’t be a passive observer on LinkedIn. Comment on interesting posts, offer congratulations, join professional and alumni groups.
  • Don’t underestimate the photo.  You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover -- but people do it anyway. Put your best foot forward by presenting a high-quality, professional, and recent image. This shows that you take your career seriously.
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