It’s no secret that LinkedIn is the top professional social networking site, with more than 950 million users in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Per LinkedIn’s data, 140 job applications are submitted every second, and 61 million people are using LinkedIn to search for jobs. Around 72 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn when looking to hire new talent. So how can you stand out when utilizing LinkedIn to find your next job or even career?
Using LinkedIn to find a job involves everything from creating a professional profile, networking, and actively searching for job opportunities. Here’s a guide to landing your next job while using LinkedIn effectively in your search, with advice from career experts who’ve been exactly where you are.
Step 1: Optimize your LinkedIn profile
Having a well-optimized Linkedin profile is key to getting noticed by recruiters. “A major element in a well-optimized profile is knowing your main goal for the platform and how you want to leverage it,” says career and confidence coach Arissan Nicole. “From there, you can keyword optimize it, write a compelling summary section, and craft a clear and concise headline. The biggest issue people run into is not being clear on what they really want, which is then reflective of their profile. A well-optimized profile is a profile where the people you want to connect with, companies you want to work for, and opportunities you are looking for are the ones finding you on LinkedIn.”
Some other ways to ensure your profile is optimized:
Create a complete and professional profile with a clear headline, summary, work experience, and skills. “Use bold colors, be concise and specific in your headline and banner wording, don’t be afraid to be bold and ask for what you want,” says Miranda VonFricken, LinkedIn strategist and personal branding coach.
Use a high-quality, professional headshot. “You have to have a professional-looking profile picture, one that is well-lit where your face takes up the majority of the avatar circle,” adds Katie McKiever, social media and communications consultant. “The profile picture area on LinkedIn is small, so you want to make sure that your face is as prominent as possible.”
Tailor your profile to highlight your achievements and skills relevant to the job you are seeking.
Step 2: Use keywords
Whether you're in engineering, marketing, finance, or any career, using the top keywords for LinkedIn is crucial to attracting recruiters to your profile. If you don't, you'll be missing out on an entire network of potential job offers.
Incorporate relevant keywords in your profile to enhance its visibility in search results.
Think about the terms recruiters might use when looking for someone with your skills and background.
Read more: 6 Ideas for Picking a LinkedIn Cover Photo
Step 3: Build and expand your network
While LinkedIn’s popularity has made networking seemingly quick and easy, social media relationships need nurturing beyond a connection request. What you do to leverage the platform’s resources matters. “Expand your current network by engaging in content by leaders you don’t already know, let them experience your thought leadership, and start to build a professional connection. You never know where it may lead,” suggests VonFricken.
Here a few key ways to make more meaningful networking connections on LinkedIn:
Connect with colleagues, classmates, friends, and professionals in your industry. Engagement is key! Think about the roles you aspire to, or are interested in, what industry you care about and start there—who do you already know, who do they know, and keep expanding the circle. You can connect with others through thought leadership posts, LinkedIn group engagement, LinkedIn Live events,” says workplace expert and career coach Ashley Fernandez. McKiever agrees, “People underestimate the value of LinkedIn. You are one click away from most every major decision-maker at an organization on LinkedIn. Nowhere else can you use a simple search feature on a platform and within seconds find people by company, job title, and location. There is no excuse for applying for a position as a cold candidate anymore because you have connected individuals within your desired organization literally at your fingertips. LinkedIn gives job applicants unmatched access to people who could hold the door open for you to get your foot in.
Join LinkedIn groups related to your field to expand your network and stay updated on industry trends.
Connect with people you don’t know. Fernandez says the key is to add a personal human-to-human element. “Be thoughtful and intentional about your outreach,” she says. “Why are you interested in connecting with this person? What value do you possibly have that you can bring to this person? Do you have a mutual connection in common? Did you see them at a speaking event? Did you read something that they recently shared in a post and it resonated with you?” Use that as a reason to reach out.
Step 4: Engage in content
When it comes to using LinkedIn, think of it as a place to showcase what you have to offer, your skills and expertise. “One guaranteed way to stand out in the job market is to actually share content on a regular basis because so few people do this,” McKiever says. “My female clients especially have the hardest time with this because there’s a mindset that it’s bragging and egotistical to post about the work that they’ve done.”
Women should educate and inform through their content on LinkedIn, she adds. “Not only will you be positioning yourself well in the eyes of hiring managers, but you’ll also be giving back to others in the form of insight into your industry. If you absolutely can’t stand to have the social media spotlight on you in this way by posting about your own experiences, then you can post the latest news in your field, and about other organizations and people in your industry and why they are doing a great job. This shows hiring managers that you’re in-the-know and that you’re a strategic thinker. It’s a win-win.”
There are several ways to engage in content.
Fernandez suggests creating a LinkedIn newsletter. “Using the LinkedIn newsletter feature, maybe you send out an industry insights newsletter, or a subject matter expertise newsletter to your network every month.”
Participate in the LinkedIn Live Series. “It could be the option to use your skills and expertise to comment on other thought leadership posts and engage through there,” Fernandez says. “Then people will click through to see your profile and your skills and your expertise.”
Engage with content from others by commenting and participating in discussions. Also, reshare their content onto your page by commenting with your own experiences.
Step 5: Utilize the job search features
Use LinkedIn's Advanced Search option and do a search on your favorite companies and use the job search feature to find your dream job. “The best strategies for using the LinkedIn jobs feature is to understand how the Boolean search function works and to have a very clear picture of what types of jobs you are interested in and looking for,” Fernandez says. That means be clear on the industries, company sizes, locations, employer values, and keywords that embody what you’re looking for and hope to achieve. “Not all job titles are equal across different organizations. You can also leverage any first or second-degree connections and use that as an option to be able to get a foot in the door,” says Fernandez.
Explore the "Jobs" tab to search for job opportunities based on location, industry, and other filters. “I often tell clients to not just search for titles, but for specific skills or tasks they would do. They’re often surprised at the variety of options and most they would have never thought to look for,” says VonFricken. “When it comes to specific keywords or phrases that can enhance your job search, it is a great opportunity for you to use some AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools.” Aggregate keywords based on job descriptions that you have applied for, currently have, or are interested in, and ask ChatGPT or Bard to pull out the keywords. Then use those keywords in the job search feature.
Save job searches and set up job alerts to receive notifications for new postings.
Follow companies you are interested in, so you are also alerted when they post new jobs. “Following companies you are interested in can help you during the recruiting selection process,” Nicole says. “When recruiters are looking to fill roles, on top of matching for job fit, they are also looking for company fit. This is an easy way for you to express interest and get a leg up in the job search process. Recruiters reach out to a lot of people to fill a role, so make it easier for them by signaling your interest before they even get to your profile.”
Identify and connect with recruiters in your industry.
Let people you’re interested in, or recruiters, know you are actively looking for opportunities and express your interest in their expertise. “Make a list of at least 20 contacts,” Fernandez says. “These individuals should work at one of your target companies. They should have the ability to influence hiring decisions, and they should consistently share content on LinkedIn.” To find them, use your AI keywords in the search bar and filter posts to see who has been speaking on certain topics. “Just like you want to be able to follow a company page, you can also bookmark these links from their activity feed and leave value-driven intentional comments when these individuals are posting and when the company is posting,” says Fernandez.
Once you find that job that you feel is right for you, then it’s time to take some additional steps to apply. “I often find that following the instructions on the job description is a great start. If there are no set instructions, my next thought is to apply via LinkedIn, as that’s where you found it, but don’t stop there,” says VonFricken. “See who’s listed as the hiring manager or job poster—find them on LinkedIn and introduce yourself! From there, find a few other employees that may have a part in the decision-making and introduce yourself to them as well. Let them all know you applied and are excited to discuss how your experience is a direct match for their needs.”
Read more: Using LinkedIn to Find a Recruiter
Step 6: Ask for endorsements and recommendations
Companies often ask for recommendation letters, so why not have recommendations that are easily accessible on your LinkedIn profile? “Endorsements and recommendations are important, and when you think about showcasing them, not only can they just live on your profile but it's also an opportunity for you to elevate them and create a post,” Fernandez says. “Get creative and share some content on your profile about a new endorsement or recommendation that you received, or create a post where you are recommending a few colleagues or leaders. Ask them to tag others and that will then increase your visibility.”
Step 7: Use the #OpentoWork feature
The LinkedIn #OpentoWork feature offers a powerful and convenient tool for anyone actively seeking new employment opportunities. By utilizing this feature effectively, you can significantly increase your visibility to potential employers and recruiters, attract more relevant opportunities, and ultimately accelerate your job search process.
Enable the #OpentoWork feature to signal to recruiters that you are actively seeking job opportunities.
Specify the types of roles you are interested in, making it easier for recruiters to identify relevant opportunities. The feature allows you to connect with recruiters who specialize in your specific industry or skill set. This expands your network beyond your immediate connections and opens doors to new possibilities.
Remember to be proactive, responsive, and strategic in your approach. Networking and engagement play a significant role in job searches on LinkedIn, so actively build and nurture your professional connections.