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LinkedIn was launched in 2003 as a business-oriented social networking site.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool that helps connect employers and job seekers.  On LinkedIn, you can create a professional profile and network with people within your profession or interest areas, gather endorsements, search for jobs, and blog to increase your online presence.

According to a 2015 Jobvite study, 40% of job seekers using social media use LinkedIn. A similar study in 2016 found that 87% of recruiters were using LinkedIn to find new talent. Adding to LinkedIn’s appeal is the opportunity to search for and apply for jobs via mobile devices. In 2015, 47% of millennials reported using LinkedIn’s mobile app to search and apply for jobs.

Check out the LinkedIn quickstart guide for the basics of how to create a good LinkedIn profile. You can download the guide as a PDF from the link.

In this section: Creating a Strong Profile, Establishing your Network, Maintaining and Using your Network, and Job Search on LinkedIn.

Creating a Strong Profile

To get started on LinkedIn, first create a profile. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Your profile picture: Your profile picture is not optional – it helps you stand out. Generally speaking, choose a picture that clearly shows your face and doesn’t have distracting details in the background. For more info, check out The Art of the LinkedIn Profile Photo
  • Create a strong headline: The headline is the bold text on LinkedIn that goes immediately below your name. Many people use this space to display their current job title. However, don’t be afraid to get more creative! For example, instead of only stating, “Landscaper” consider highlighting your achievements, such as “Creative design with native and drought tolerant plants.”
  • Create a custom URL: LinkedIn automatically assigns your profile page a custom URL. By default, that URL is a bunch of random numbers, letters and symbols. However, you can customize the URL to include your full name. Using your full name also boosts your Google ranking and helps people remember your URL. For step-by-step directions on how to change your URL, check “How to customize your LinkedIn public profile URL.”
  • Use multimedia to enhance your Profile: LinkedIn allows you to embed Power Point presentations and videos into our profile. Take advantage of this feature to make your profile more dynamic.

For more tips on building a good LinkedIn Profile, check out these links:

Check out this video by Kristen Jacoway Beasley to learn more about how to create and edit your LinkedIn profile:

Establishing your Network

Once you have a solid LinkedIn profile, you can start networking by adding connections and joining LinkedIn Groups. Establishing primary connections, investigating potential secondary connections to expand your network, and joining relevant groups are good ways to create a strong professional network.

Connections are similar to “friends” on Facebook. They are generally people you know (or have at least heard of) through your professional network. Using LinkedIn connections, users can both passively and actively look for jobs by learning about jobs posted by their connections and by advertising their skills to a diverse professional network.

There are three types of connections: first-degree (or primary), second-degree (or secondary) and third-degree connections.

First-degree connections are people you know personally or professionally. To add these people as connections to your profile, either you sent them an invitation to connect, or they sent you one. You can upload your email address book and LinkedIn will search for people you may know and suggest connections.

Second-degree connections are people who are connected to your first degree connections. For example, if you are friends with Sally and Sally is friends with Hal, Hal is a second-degree connection. You can send second-degree connections an invitation to become first-degree connections, but make sure you send the invitation with a personalized message that explains your request.

For example: “I see you work with Sally at X company and I am interested in networking with you,” or “I met you at Sally’s birthday party and I am interested in hearing more about what you do at X company.”

Third-degree connections are people who are connected to your second-degree connections. (You could think of third-degree connections as ‘friends-of-friends-of-friends’). In order to connect with these people, you can send them messages through InMail, LinkedIn’s direct messaging service. You can also connect with anyone else not connected to you via a first, second or third degree connection using InMail.

LinkedIn users can modify their security settings to determine what their third-degree connections see. For step-by-step instructions and to learn more about how to change Privacy and Security settings on LinkedIn, see this article: 9 LinkedIn Default Settings You Need to Change IMMEDIATELY.

LinkedIn Groups are virtual meeting rooms, or forums, on LinkedIn. They’re a place for people with similar interests to talk, ask each other questions, share information, post and view jobs, or make business contacts. There are many different types of groups. You can find groups based on industry or profession, skills, volunteer activities, and where you went to school, among other things. Use the search feature on your profile page or view suggestions of relevant groups to see what groups you might want to join.

Click on this link to find more information on LinkedIn about getting started in Groups.

You can also learn more about Groups in this article: How LinkedIn Groups Can Help You Get A Job or by watching this video on LinkedIn groups from Kristen Jacoway Beasley:

Maintaining and Using your Network

Now that you have created a LinkedIn network, you need to use it.  For example, consider how you can support the people in your network.  If someone posts they are interested in creating a non-profit, can you connect them to someone who has done that before?  If someone posts about a promotion, send your congratulations.

Plan on updating your LinkedIn community regularly.  You can post updates on what you are doing at work, what you are interested in learning more about, or relevant articles you have come across.

Using your network. Don’t let the time and energy you have spent cultivating your network go to waste.  Here are a few ways to use your LinkedIn network:

  • Request informational interviews with people knowledgeable about a topic of interest. For example, talk to people who have experience in a field you would like to pursue.  Be respectful of their time (ask to chat on the phone or via an online instant messaging service for 15 minutes and then end the conversation after 15 minutes) and send a thank you note after the interview.
  • Research a company you are interested in working for. For example, if you want to work for Apple, see if there are any people in your network who work for Apple or are connected to people who work for Apple.  If there are, ask to talk to them about their employment or see if they can introduce you to people with influence in the company or to learn more about company culture.

Further reading on Connections and Networking:

Check out this video by Kristen Jacoway Beasley to learn more about how to grow your LinkedIn network:

Skills and Endorsements

After you have created a basic profile, complete the skills and endorsements section by adding keywords that describe your skills. LinkedIn will suggest skills pulled from your work history, but you can enter keywords which will autofill with skills recognized by LinkedIn.  For example, if you enter “management,” 9 sub-categories pop up and you can select the one that best describes your skills (project management, sales management, change management, account management, program management, etc.).  Think broadly. The skills you list do not need to be confined to your profession.  Pick at least 10 skills (the top 10 will show up on your profile).

Your connections can confirm your skills using LinkedIn endorsements. All they have to do is click on a button next to that skill on your profile page. Endorsements are a way to highlight job-related skills you want to promote. Be aware, however, that connections can give you endorsements for skills you don’t have, don’t apply to your job interests, or could even be harmful to your job search. Luckily, you can choose to hide endorsements that are untrue, or that you don’t want people to see. Here are step-by-step instructions from the LinkedIn Help page: Hiding and Unhiding a Skill Endorsement.

Visit the Skill Endorsements—Overview webpage to learn more about skill endorsements.

Further reading on Endorsements:

Recommendations on LinkedIn

A LinkedIn recommendation is a personalized comment or testimonial about the skills you have or the quality of services you provide. Recommendations are written by your first-degree connections, and they carry more weight than Skills Endorsements because they are personalized. Not only do recommendations show up on your profile, they also show up on the profile of the person who wrote it.

You can learn more about why recommendations are important and how to write them in this article: How to write LinkedIn recommendations that will make your coworkers love you and could even boost your own career

To ask people for recommendations, you can send a message through LinkedIn, but since most people ignore those emails, it’s better to send them an email from your personal account. Be sure to personalize the request and make the interaction sincere. People are more likely to respond positively when they can see you have put some effort into the request.

When you contact someone, explain why their recommendation would be helpful for you and share points they might want to include. For example: “I really appreciated the opportunity to volunteer with you on the Rural Community Picnic organizing committee. It gave me an opportunity to participate in event planning and practice my public speaking skills. I also learned a lot about how to work cooperatively with other committee members to make sure that the picnic was accessible so that everyone in our community could come.”

When asking for a recommendation, you may want to ask them if they would like a draft recommendation to work from. The person writing the recommendation might not use it, but it may help them better understand what skills you are hoping to highlight. Make sure to send a sincere thank you message after they write you a recommendation. Learn more in this article: Best way to request and receive LinkedIn recommendations

After someone writes you a recommendation, you have to accept the recommendation in order for it to display on your profile page. Just like with Skills Endorsements, you can edit which recommendations are visible on your public page. Visit Recommendations—Overview for more details.

Job Search on LinkedIn

Once you’ve got a good LinkedIn profile, you can start to search for jobs. Here are four different ways to search for jobs:

  1. Click on the “Jobs” tab at the top of your profile page (it’s the one in the middle, with the briefcase icon). There, you have several options to search for jobs. You can filter job posting by the date they were posted, if the job posts were listed by someone in your network, the company, and by experience level (such as internship, entry-level, or associate-level positions). You can also search by keyword, location, or company name.

For step-by-step instructions and more information, see Searching for a Job on LinkedIn.

  1. Some LinkedIn groups may have a “jobs” category.  For example, if you are an engineer and have joined a group for engineers, someone within the group may share an engineering job posted within their company.
  2. Another place to look for job postings is feed on your homepage. Sometimes people will post a link to a job their company is trying to fill.
  3. If you know a company you want to work for, look on their company page to see if they posted any open jobs.

You can save job postings so that you can go back and review them before you apply. This is a good idea, because it gives you time to do some research on the company that is hiring. Do you have any connections who are current or past employees at that company? If so, ask them if they could share some information about the company culture and what qualities the company looks for in a successful candidate. You can also ask them if they’d be willing to put you in touch with someone in the hiring department. Some companies offer bonuses if a current employee facilitates a successful hire, so don’t be shy about reaching out and asking a contact to introduce you to the people who are hiring. Getting a foot in the door can give you a leg up on the competition.

For more information, check out this article: 4 Ways to Find Job Opportunities on LinkedIn

Kristen Jacoway Beasley shares more information on how to find jobs on LinkedIn in this video:

Applying for a Job via LinkedIn

After you’ve done your research on the company, now it’s time to apply! There could be a couple different options. Some postings will have an Easy Apply button, which uses your LinkedIn profile information to help fill out your application. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your profile is accurate and up-to-date. Other postings may direct you to the company’s website to apply. For step-by-step directions and more information, see Applying for Jobs on LinkedIn.

There is a free LinkedIn Job Search app you can use to search and apply for jobs. (You’ll need to have your profile set up to use the app). The app is available for both iOS and Android devices. You can learn more and download the app here: LinkedIn Job Search Mobile App—Overview.

For an overview of LinkedIn, some of their recent updates, and how to get started, check out this video:

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