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A process of looking for a job can take you much longer than it could, if you constrain yourself only to job boards, recruitment agencies and networking with friends.  One of the tools that many people don’t use to the fullest extent is Linked In.

In case you’ve not heard of Linked In before, it operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 530 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Individuals and companies use LinkedIn for networking, job searching, hiring, company research, and connecting with affiliates, including alumni, industry, and a variety of other business related groups.

Most of Linked In users are employed professionals who disclose what they do now and where they’ve worked in the past. It is very different to Facebook, so nobody is going to try to poke you or date you (although I’ve had some interesting approaches on Linked In… although this is probably a topic for another post!:-)

Once you’ve filled out your profile and added at least 20-30 connections (I have 5471 at present and counting:-), you can get started. Here are a few tips on how Linked In can help you find a job.

  1. Get the word out – the more people know you are looking, the more likely they will tell you about available vacancies. Linked In has a ‘status update’ feature which you can also use to let your network know that you are currently searching for a new job opportunity. Be specific about what you are looking for. Make it easy for people to help you.
  1. Get LinkedIn recommendations from your boss/colleagues/clients. You want strong recommendations highlighting your strengths and experience/personal qualities relevant to the role you are looking for.  If you are a Manager yourself, get some recommendations from your employees that highlight leadership qualities. Recruiters search Linked In to find candidates for their jobs, so the better your profile, the higher your chances of being contacted by recruiters/companies directly.

To see an example of a good Linked In profile with recommendations and achievements listed, have a look at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lukeireland Luke was happy for me to share his details, so please feel free to network with him!

  1. Find out where people with the experience similar to yours are working. Find companies that employ people like you by doing an advanced search for people in your area who have your skills. For example, if you’re a Sales Director in London, search for profiles in your area using keywords with your skills (e.g. agency sales, display advertising, EMEA etc) , to see which companies employ people like you. You can also find out where people from a company you want to work for came from and where they go next via LinkedIn’s “Company Profiles”. You can use this to track where people go after leaving your company as well as employees of other companies in your sector.
  2. Contact the Hiring Manager directly. LinkedIn’s job search engine allows you to search for any kind of job you want. However, when you view the results, pay close attention to the ones that you’re no more than two degrees away from. This means that you know someone who knows the person that posted the job. Two degrees is about the limit for getting to hiring managers. I never help friends of friends of friends who I don’t know.

Please feel free to add me as a connection: http://www.linkedin.com/in/margaretbuj and browse through my connections too. If there is someone there who you’d like me to introduce you to, please forward your request via Linked In.

Another way to find companies that you have ties to is by looking at the “Companies in Your Network” section on LinkedIn’s Job Search page. This would work once you’ve got a significant number of connections though.

  1. Identify the right recruiter/HR person. You can use LinkedIn to find someone inside the company you want to work for and send your resume that way. I get lots of people contacting me on Linked In every day and if their experience is relevant to the roles I am recruiting for, I stay in contact with them.
  2. Find out the real needs of the Hiring Manager. Job listings do not always spell out entirely or exactly what a hiring manager is looking for. Find a connection at the company who can get the inside scoop on what really matters for the job. You can do this by searching for the company name; the results will show you who in your network connects you to the company. If you don’t have an inside connection, look at profiles of the people who work at the company to get an idea of their backgrounds and important skills.
  3. Build your network before you need it. Having a strong network is a good form of job security. Don’t wait until times are tough to nurture your network. It’s not always who you know—it’s who knows of you!

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