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VOL. 130 | NO. 109 | Friday, June 5, 2015

Angela Copeland

The Importance of LinkedIn

By Angela Copeland

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There’s a question I hear at least once a week, “Should I have a LinkedIn account?” Job seekers often wonder if LinkedIn is a waste of their time, if anyone will ever see their profile, and if they need a photo. Absolutely, without a doubt, my answer is always yes.

Yes, recruiters really do use LinkedIn. Yes, you can use LinkedIn to stay connected to colleagues. Yes, your LinkedIn profile will show up when someone searches for your name on Google. And, yes, you need a photo.

In today’s digital age of job searching, your application is often lost into a black hole called the applicant tracking system. That’s the software big companies use to process your resume. LinkedIn is often one of the best ways to reach out to someone within the company, so they’ll know who you are. In fact, the more first-degree contacts you have, the more second-degree connections you’ll have access to.

It’s also a great way to highlight things that aren’t on your resume. For example, your resume may not have space for all your community projects or the different languages you speak. But on LinkedIn, there’s both room and a special place for these items. LinkedIn also encourages you to list professional organizations, patents, causes you care about and certifications.

A wonderful feature of LinkedIn often overlooked by job seekers is the recommendations. Recommendations allow former colleagues, managers or vendors to leave a public review of your work. If you know someone believes in you, take a chance and ask them to leave you a recommendation. It this feels awkward, ask the person to exchange recommendations with you, and leave them one too.

You’ve probably also seen the Skills & Endorsements section of your profile. It’s what allows your connections to vote on what they think you’re great at. As you may, I once questioned how useful this section was. Interestingly though, recruiters can actually search in your area for someone with the most votes in a particular skill.

Speaking of recruiters, another question is often, “Do recruiters really contact you out of the blue on LinkedIn?” Yes, they do. I have spoken to many people who have been contacted by a recruiter they’ve never met for a job they didn’t realize existed. Now, that’s great news!

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is public. Your boss can often see the same information a recruiter can see. Avoid indicating in your profile that you’re job seeking. I have seen some profiles that say “seeking a new job” in their headline or summary section. When your boss discovers you’re searching, it takes away your power.

When you’re making big changes or lengthy updates, check out your settings section. There’s an option to turn off all those emails your connections get about your updates.

LinkedIn is a useful tool, not only when you’re looking for a job, but also at your current job. It can help you to brand yourself, and to reach out to new contacts.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

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