10 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Leverage Your Exposure and Find Work

After the close of World War II, thousands of veterans flooded job markets all over the country in hopes of building new lives. During the 1950s, looking for work was remarkedly straight forward. You found jobs listed in the classified ads in local newspapers. Or, you registered with your local Unemployment Office. Sometimes, you might even find a job posting written on a 3 X 5 index card thumbtacked to the bulletin board inside your supermarket. With luck, you’d compete against a handful of candidates and eventually be asked to interview. If you were lucky, you got the job.

A lot has changed since those days.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are more than 6.8 million job openings in the United States. As of March 2018, the

re were 6.5 million unemployed people looking for work. “Never before have we had an economy where the number of open jobs exceeds the number of job seekers,” says Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

There are a number of reasons why there are more job openings than candidates. Often times there’s a mis-match in skill sets. When there’s a strong market for workers, employees will often job-hop, looking for more lucrative opportunities. The result is a glut in the unemployed workforce, while employers are faced with covering their workload. This results in decreased productivity with the workload landing on long-term employees who have elected to stay.

The advent of the information super-highway created new ways for employers to find potential candidates and for candidates looking for employers with job openings. According to The International Association of Employment Web Sites, “We proudly represent our Members among the more than 40,000 employment sites that serve job seekers, employers and recruiters worldwide.” That’s a lot of resources for employers and candidates. So, how does a job seeker choose which site is best for them?

Depending on which sources you believe, social media was born sometime between 1997 and 2003 when MySpace developed a new way for friends to connect and interact. Facebook and Twitter followed in 2005, with LinkedInentering the scene in 2002. Since then, LinkedIn has become arguably the most important social media site for businesses and careers.

According to Business Insider Intelligence, LinkedIn surpassed half a billion users in 2017. LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Wiener said the company’s goal is to be the core of networked professionals and 70 million companies, world-wide. That’s a lot of exposure for job seekers.

Here are the facts:

Business to business (B2B) marketers go to LinkedIn 92% of the time, followed by Twitter (87%), Facebook (76%), YouTube (67%) and Instagram (15%).

Apptopia conducted research on website use and confirmed that LinkedIn’s monthly active user base reached 260 million in March 2017. More than 40% of LinkedIn users visit the site every day. That translates to over 100 million professionals, 61 million senior-level corporate influencers and 40 million decision makers who could find you and your content. Not convinced yet? Read on…

LinkedIn is the most used business-related social media site among Fortune 500 companies. It’s where 550 million movers and shakers in 220 countries spend their spare time. It’s where they look for high-quality content and users. They’re not interested in popular music tracks, photos of people’s Fourth of July picnics, or windsurfing adventures. They’re interested in reaching professionals.

Every week, LinkedIn feeds are seen by 9 million subscribers. That translates to more than 36 billion impressions a month, or 468 billion impressions a year. When marketing executives were asked about the top social media platforms for business-relevant content, 91% reported that they chose LinkedIn. Less than 29% chose Twitter; 27% chose Facebook.

According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn is popular with educated users (bachelor’s degrees and higher) that earn over $75,000 a year. In other words, exactly the people job seekers are trying to reach. LinkedIn shows higher usage in 50–64-year-olds than those between 18–29.

According to LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, 94% of B2B marketing professionals use LinkedIn to publish quality content. That’s compared to Twitter’s 89%, Facebook and YouTube’s 77% and Google+’s 61%. LinkedIn is the first stop for distributing quality content marketing material. Collectively, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter drive more that 90% of social media traffic to business sites and blogs.

What about Millennial workers? When you’re applying for a job, do you know who’s reading your resume and application? It’s often hard to tell. Viveka von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and founder of LinkedIntoBusiness.com says, “Even though there’s Glassdoor and various business tools out there that millennials are using, if they are looking for a job, certainly in traditional areas, they have to be on LinkedIn.” Are you convinced yet? If not, read Josh Gallant’s 45 Eye-Opening LinkedIn Statistics for B2B Marketers In 2018.

With over 4.57 billion mobile phone users worldwide and business sites like LinkedIn, consumers have become adept at performing work-related tasks in the comfort of their commute to work, train stations, restaurants and movie theaters. There are currently 63 million mobile users of LinkedIn — and the number is growing. As a result, busy hiring managers and recruiters are more likely than not to view LinkedIn users’ profiles and work samples outside of the office.

Now that you’re convinced of LinkedIn’s potential, it’s time to get started — beginning with a well-crafted profile.

Your LinkedIn profile serves as a visual extension of your resume or CV. It’s the first impression you make with prospective employers and business partners from all over the world, so take time to create a visually-appealing overview of who you are, what you’re looking for and what you have to offer businesses.

One of the most important features of your LinkedIn profile is your personal photo. You do use one, don’t you? Experience has shown that profiles missing quality head shots will be passed over nearly 100% of the time. It simply says, “I’m either lazy or not serious enough about my profile to include a photo of myself.” It tells people that you’re a real person. Someone they’d like to do business with you.

William Arruda, founder of Reach Personal Branding and cofounder of CareerBlast.TV offers the following Dos and Don’ts:

Do:

  • Invest in a professional head shot. It’s not that expensive, especially when you consider that LinkedIn’s audience is approaching a billion users. Remember, your head shot is part of your first impression.
  • Face forward so you can look into the eyes of those checking you out. Avoid side views and shadowy shots.
  • Smile. It’s the universal welcome symbol.
  • Choose a simple background or one that truly exudes your personal brand.
  • Dress in a way that reflects who you are and is relevant for your target audience (the people you want checking you out)

I’d also add the following Do’s:

  • Dress for success
  • Men: Get a haircut and shave the morning of the photo shoot
  • Women: apply business-appropriate make-up, if desired

Don’ts:

  • Don’t use selfies. Save them for Instagram or SnapChat. According to a study by JDP, a risk mitigation services firm, about 9% of LinkedIn photos are selfies. The industries with the greatest percentage of profiles with selfies are retail, government and healthcare.
  • Don’t use snapshots of your dog, cat or pet.
  • Don’t use photos of you skiing in Aspen or laying on the beach. Keep it professional.
  • Don’t use images where you’ve cropped others out of the frame; it’s weird to see part of your arm other someone else’s hair. The same JDP study found that 15% of photos they reviewed were cropped from groups and that women are more likely to use this type of cropped photo for LinkedIn.
  • Don’t use a logo in place of your face. As proud as you are of your company, using the logo takes the humanity out of your profile. Save the logo for your company page, and put your smile out there instead.
  • Don’t use images with multiple people. We love that you’re a collaborator or that you adore your kids, but this is LinkedIn, not Facebook.
  • Don’t leave it blank. This makes you less real and more dubious in the virtual world.
  • Don’t have a background that is so busy it detracts from the head shot or worse, a background that makes you look unprofessional or disorganized.

Next to your photo, your title is the most important element of your profile. It’s your first chance to tell people who you are and what you’re looking for. Write a compelling headline that lures readers into your site. Von Rosen calls it “a mini-elevator speech.”

Mark Pearce, Director of Mining & Infrastructure at Inverse Energy suggests, “When you’re looking for a job, do not replace your job title with ‘Looking for work’ or ‘Looking for a new opportunity.’ Instead, keep your job title and add that to what you’re looking for after your title. There are enough character spaces to do this. This will ensure you come up in LinkedIn searches when employers/recruiters are looking for someone like you.”

Next, comes your opportunity to tell the world about who you are and what you can do for them by creating a short description of your skills. It’s a way to expound on your resume. Use easy to read language the average reader will be able to understand. Lydia Abbot, Blog Editor & Content Marketer at LinkedIn suggests using “power words” in the body of your introduction:

  • Passionate
  • Motivated
  • Responsible
  • Successful

On the other hand, Maria Ignatova, LinkedIn’s Global Content Marketing Lead, Thought Leadership and Insights, suggests staying away from these tired, over-used words:

  • Specialized
  • Leadership
  • Experienced
  • Focused
  • Strategic

In my profile, I take the liberty to spell out some of my specific work samples to make it easy for viewers find them:

If you decide to do the same, remember that LinkedIn won’t allow you to use functioning hyperlinks, so you’ll have to enter a text equivalent. Stay away from unusually long URLs. Instead, use Bitly to condense long links.

Something many new users of LinkedIn don’t think of (or know how to use) are powerful, search engine optimized keywords. Google and other search engines can examine your profile for popular and specific keywords, just like you’d use in writing articles and blog posts. Dick Kuiper of Ghostwriterhelp says, “When you want to attract attention using LinkedIn, you need to be thinking of LinkedIn in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) as used by Google and Yahoo search ranking algorithms. The best way to do this is by using Google’s free Keyword Planner. It can be confusing to learn on your own but you can find plenty of good Insightful videos on Youtube.com that will step you through the process.”

Al Smith, Executive Career Coach and #1 Best Selling Author adds, “82–85% of jobs are NOT posted (The Hidden Job Market). If remotely accurate, Job Seekers must get found or avail themselves to getting found. To do so, candidates need to be aware of how the algorithms work. Even though this a moving target, some things are constants as heavy weight such as, title, keywords, summary and most recent experiences. In short, you have to have the Right Words, in the Right Quantity in the Right Location if you want to get found.”

Pearce also suggests uploading work samples and professional certificates to your profile. “This will give someone ease of access to the quality of your

work. It’s technically going a step further when selling yourself to prospective employers.”

Kuiper says, “Perhaps the most powerful personal marketing tool available on LinkedIn that is overlooked is the Media Sub-section which appears near the top of your profile. You can tell the world how great you are by posting all sorts of gems in the Media Sub-section like PowerPoints displaying your expertise, PDF documents showing your knowledge, Video clips that allow people to see you showcase your talent, and much more.”

He goes on to say (although I haven’t tested it), “Something many people don’t know about using LinkedIn for job searching is that military veterans get at least one free year of the first level premium service which generally costs $29/month. In order to qualify, you should list at least one entry in your Experience section that shows you being in some branch of the military and even ROTC may get you there”

The next section provides you with an opportunity to list your skills, Industry Knowledge, Tools & Technologies, Interpersonal Skills and Other Skills. Like SEO keywords, these selections will help you advertise your knowledge and experiences that might not readily appear in your profile and resume. Add as many as you can, even if you have limited experience in that area. They’ll help others find you when searching by keywords.

Connections with fellow LinkedIn members is the lifeblood of your social media marketing. It’s where you reach out to the world to let them know you’re here and ready to help them. But, where do you start? At the beginning, of course.

Harrison De Wulf of LinkedIn says, “Did you know people with a strong network get up to 13x more job opportunities?” Watch his short video to learn how to get started.

Each time you log in to LinkedIn, you’ll have an opportunity to read others’ content, based on your profile configuration. While interesting, it often doesn’t target specific users in your profession or line of work. The best place to start is by looking at who’s viewed your profile. It must have included something that piqued their interest, so ask them for a connection. Connect with your professional and personal contacts. Friends, classmates, former and current co-workers and other people in your industry whom you know — or you’d like to know. If you’re new to an industry, or looking for a job, search for people who work at companies where you’ve applied.

Kyle Elliott, founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com says, “The best part of LinkedIn is that you’re just a click away from a half a billion other professionals. All it takes is a message. Looking for a job? Find people on LinkedIn who hold your ideal position. They’re in your dream role, so figure out how they got there. Ask them for a quick 20-minute informational interview. Pick their brain about how they got to where they are in their career, their favorite part of working at their company, anything they wish they would have known before starting their job.” But there are some caveats.

Jacob Dayan, CEO and co-founder of Community Tax and Finance Pal says, “The number one mistake I see people make when trying to network via LinkedIn is not tailoring their message. I also see people making the mistake of using a generic introduction where they only change the name of the message rather than tailoring each message to the recipient. I can’t stress how important it is to tailor each message.”

An easy way to search and reach out to new connections is to open two LinkedIn windows. Use the firstwindow for reading conversations threads and general activity. When you come across someone you’d like to connect with, instead of clicking on the connect button (that sends a generic connection request), copy and paste or type their name into the search window of your second window. Click on the connect button, followed by a personalized invitation to connect. It will keep you from losing your place in the discussion thread while engaging in posts and responses.

Maryna Shkvorets is an Engaging Talks Strategist at marynashkvorets.com. She recommends. “Whenever I send out a connection request, I give a little blurb about why I’m connecting and always end with ‘Are you open to connect?’ This little question, a call to action, leaves the person on the other side to answer ‘Yes I am’ rather than over-evaluate who you are or why you’re reaching out.”

The key to building a robust presence on LinkedIn is daily participation and regularly adding new connections. “Aim to add 100 people to your connections each week (either send 100 connections requests on a single day, or spread it out through the week — 20 connections per day)”, says Michelle Gomez, author and founder and CEO of Michelle Gomez Coaching. “If you’re looking for a job or a career change, make sure to connect with HR managers, recruiters, talent acquisition professionals, and firms that you’re interested in working for — ex. Sony, Apple, Google.”

Once you’ve started building connections, take it one step further — add groups to your profile. There are thousands of groups in LinkedIn that

welcome new members. To find groups, click on the “My Network” icon on the top of your LinkedIn session. Below the “Recommended for you” title, you can select people, groups, companies and hashtags. Peruse the provided list, and click on “Enter” or enter your own terms in the search window. Most groups are open to new members, but will often require some vetting.

Warning: joining groups can be addicting. Try to limit your group memberships to only those you’ll have to time actively monitor and participate in. You can check how many members belong to each group before joining. If there are only a dozen members, chances are it’s either new or doesn’t command many subscribers. Once you’ve joined, you can check out your groups by clicking on the upper right-hand icon at the top of your screen that says “Work.” Click the down arrow and choose “Groups.”

By now, you’ve probably gathered that LinkedIn’s strength and popularity is based on people sharing information with others. More than 45% of LinkedIn’s readers are in upper-level positions like hiring managers, VPs, and directors. But that wasn’t always the case.

In 2014 LinkedIn published a paltry 1,000 articles a month. In less than a year, the number jumped to over 80,000. Then it surged again in 2016 to over 130,000 posts per month. That means that people were rapidly seeing enough value to keep coming back and publish more. But, how do you get started?

The easiest way to get involved with LinkedIn’s ever-growing communication is to look for current trends and controversial issues that people are raising in their discussions. Whenever you find something that interests you, add comments or ask others their opinions. Keep your comments positive and try to add something worthwhile to the discussion.

Toni Harrison, founder of Etched Communication says, “Understand the new algorithm. The LinkedIn algorithm has experienced several shifts in the past few years. Make sure you’re aware of the evolving changes so your posts best suit the algorithm. Last month, LinkedIn Engineering released a descriptive outline on how the algorithm changed. It can be read here, but the gist is that the ranking system changed so that high-quality posts from small accounts have more visibility and can compete with ‘viral’ LinkedIn posts.”

While you’re participating in discussions, note who’s contributing and add them to your list of people who deserve connection requests. “Scan the feed for relevant topics of interest, and take a note of who is commenting and engaging with that content,” says Dana Leavy-Detrick, a former hiring manager, career coach and director of the Brooklyn Resume Studio. ”Likely, they are second and third-degree connections of the person you are already connected to, and may be someone worth introducing yourself. As an added bonus, you can bypass the InMail altogether by engaging with and replying directly that person through the comments section.”

“LinkedIn is a great place to discuss industry news and the products you specialize in at your agency,” says Vikki Thomas, Marketing Communications Manager at AccuAgency. “LinkedIn was created to be a networking tool. It’s a great place to tell your agency’s story, share career opportunities and market your insurance products and expertise.”

Of the more than 500 million LinkedIn members, and 250 million active users, less than 3 million users share content on a weekly basis. That translates to 3 million people getting 9 billion impressions every week. That’s less than 0.2% of the total user base. By republishing your content, you stand an even greater chance of being read and making more connections. And, native LinkedIn posts get more views than links to outside sites.

As Dick Kuiper noted earlier, having your posts and articles read and shared depends on how rich your posts are in SEO keywords. It also depends on their length. Noah Kagan of OKDork analyzed the lengths of posts that performed the best. His results showed that 1900-word posts hit the sweet spot and performed better than short-form (less than 1700 words) and long-form (greater than 2100 words).

Since June of 2017 when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, it has become the default site for professionals wishing to communicate with peers, job seekers and hiring managers. It’s the place where you need to be if you want to promote your brand or services. By spending as little as one hour a day on LinkedIn, you can sufficiently improve your chances of success in the workplace.

Allen Smith is an award-winning writer living in Oceanside, California and has published thousands of articles for print, the web and social media.