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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

LinkedIn: God's Gift to Jobseekers

Over the past couple of years, I have spent many hours trying to learn everything I can about LinkedIn. I don't consider myself a pro by any means but I am fairly advanced.

However, when conversing with a group of graduate students (all studying industrial/organizational psychology), I learned that many of them had profiles but never utilized it. I was in shock! I assumed that everyone uses LinkedIn. When I informed them on how to utilize LinkedIn, they immediately asked,"do you think you can come to our school and teach us this stuff?" Apparently, their professors never taught them the value of LinkedIn. Tragic!

As a result of this story, I always tell jobseekers to ensure they are using LinkedIn to its full potential. Here are some ways it can be used:

1) Find a contact at your ideal company. If you know what company you want to work for, then search for contacts at that organization. Using the people search (not company search), you can type in the company and department to find someone to contact. When contacting these individuals, be sure to communicate that you want to learn about the company. Do not ask for a referral because they will most likely automatically ignore you. Invite them to meet you for coffee or lunch so you can pick their brain. If they do not live nearby, schedule a telephone conference. If you really want to impress them, compose a handwritten letter. This is your opportunity to network!

2) Advance your cover letter. Hiring managers are often turned off when they read: "To Whom It May Concern"; "Dear Sir or Madam"; or " Dear Hiring Manager". This form of addressing is impersonal and may suggest that a candidate did not do preliminary research. LinkedIn to the rescue! Use LinkedIn to find the name for the specific hiring manager or even the human resources manager/director. This provides you with a name to address and appears more personal to the reader.

3)Reveal yourself to the community. LinkedIn provides thousands of groups that one could join. Many people join these groups but often do not participate (I am just as guilty). Do not just join a group, but become involved with the discussions. You will find that people will start connecting with you because of your knowledge or insight. This is a form of online networking. In addition, these people are getting a glimpse of your education, writing style, and professionalism.

4) Getting a referral using your contacts. After applying (or before) for a job, the first thing you should do is go on LinkedIn to determine if any of your current connections knows a contact at the corporation. Using the "company search" feature, LinkedIn will tell you of any 2nd degree contacts (I have found that 3rd degree connections are useless). Ask your contacts if they would be willing to introduce you to this individual at the hiring company. You can also use the introduction feature. This reduces the workload for your friends as they no longer have to compose a message. They simply click "accept" or "decline". Fair warning: you are only allowed 5 introductions on LinkedIn.

  • If you are out of introductions, create an e-mail that your friend can forward to the individual at the hiring company. It will make the process easier for your friends.
5) Become Searchable. When I google my name, the first thing that comes up is my LinkedIn profile. When I submit my resume, I ensure that my LinkedIn hyperlink is included. This will create your presence on the world wide web. Furthermore, LinkedIn allows you to display more information than a resume. Employers will get to see what who has composed recommendations for you.

If you don't have any recommendations from your classmates or coworkers, its time to request them. My philosophy is: send to recieve. If I compose a reccomendation for a friend, I assume they will have no issue composing one for me (unless they think I was the worst employee ever. Although, that never happens). There is no shame in requesting a recommendation either.

In short, get off Facebook and use LinkedIn. The more you use it, the more people you are connected with, the more groups you contribute to, and the more recommendations you have, the more apparent you become on the internet (i.e. your profile will have a better chance of showing up on internet searches) . Don't ask me why. That's just the way it is!

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