It shouldn’t merit a newsflash, but Linked In has changed significantly over the last 12 months since the A.P.I. was opened up and made accessible.
It annoys me to see much of the “expert” advice given to job seekers and recruiters being based on the old model. In my opinion, Linked In is now a different beast. Your profile is nowhere near 100% because you have filled in 100% of the fields and LinkedIn tells you it is!
Your number one objective with a Linked In profile is being found. Too many people overlook this and try to make their profile clever. Clear job titles that recruiters, sourcers and hiring managers will search for. If your profile is a bit clever and cryptic, don’t expect people to hang around. If your top line introduction isn’t clear as to what you do or what you want, don’t expect people to invite you to connect. Remember that it’s the first 140 characters and your photo that comes up either in a search, as a recommendation of “people you might know”, against your name on the events page, in your connection invite. This is also what shows up when Linked In suggests your profile against a job. The pitch that will make a recruiter decide whether to open your profile or pass it by. With each new feature, it’s becoming more and more important that you get this key-word rich and clear.
Social sign ups using LinkedIn as the data point of reference are increasing in popularity. This means your LinkedIn profile will form the basis of your professional profile on career sites, job-boards and other reference sites. I expect to see this increasing significantly over the coming year. Equally, A.T.S.’s are now being designed to filter applications from LinkedIn profiles. Think of how your profile will look/stand up in this context, and remember to use the edit options where appropriate when using a social sign up. Have you completed the new skills or certificates field or added your professional portfolio through the portfolio app?
Linked In Labs have made a serious investment in their matching technology. this is currently focused around the recruiter products, but I see it spreading in to other referral areas over the coming years. This changes the dynamic of job seeking on LinkedIn. The matching impacts 3 key areas for job seekers.
1: When a recruiter posts a job, they get up to 24 suggestions of profiles that fit based on skills, experience (keywords) and location. This means you need to have completed the skills section of your profile. (this section was added in the latter part of last year.)
2: Jobs get recommended to you each time you log in to your home page there is a feature in beta that lists jobs you might be interested in. The jobs are matched according to your skills, experience, job-title and location. Job seekers should make this a first port of call every day. the jobs offered will only be as accurate as your profile. linked In brings the jobs to you, rather than you hunting from them. How often do you check your home page? The average LinkedIn user visits 2.5 times a month (From Glen Cathey.) That suggests most people are missing out on this feature.
3; users of the Jobs Insider toolbar get a list of connections in their network that might be interested in the job if you don’t want to apply. This is again based on a match against your profile using the 4 key criteria: Job title, skills,location and experience using key-words in the matching process. The bigger your network, the more likely you are to get jobs passed to you.
4: The Referral engine will be launched later this year, and this will have a big impact on direct sourcing, and again is driven by matching. When a job is advertised in the channel, the hiring manager gets a list of people connected with their employees who fit the job. To make this work for you as a job seeker you need to have a matchable profile and connections with people working at companies in your target area. the best place to start these connections is by checking who works for the companies that interest you via the company pages employees tab, again, the bigger your network, the more chance of you coming up for referral. Forget the talk of intimate networks of only people you know or have met, think open and wide networks.
Use LinkedIn as a people directory, whether you’re a job seeker or recruiter. It is the place where regular searches will generate interesting people to get to know. You should be searching weekly to build your target contact base. Find people on LinkedIn, and if there is no basis for an invite like a group invite, follow them. 30% of profiles have a twitter name listed. Follow them and set up a twitter list (and tweetdeck/hootsuite column) for them so that you can find some common ground to start engaging. Once you start engaging, send an invite to connect. You should also follow these people on LinkedIn. you don’t need an invite acceptance and you get to see their updates on your update list (homepage again!). You can comment on updates and this sparks conversation leading to deeper connections. You should also use the LinkedIn Twitter application to make sure you are following your LinkedIn connections. (I check mine weekly.) This is also why you should be adding your own updates every few days to keep your connections up to date and to be seen as active. Following the new company profiles for changes and identifying target people has become more relevant than following people in many ways. Find your target companies, follow them and keep up to date. Use the list of employees to build your target people list, and start following them to.
The LinkedIn toolbars make life much easier. the outlook toolbar connects your e-mail world with LinkedIn, and the impact of toolbars has changed how users interact in groups.
Using a toolbar like JobsInsider or Outlook, you can update with attachments without going in to the group. This has changed the way groups work, moving in most cases to blog aggregators over discussion forums. Most people choose to follow conversations they have commented on via e-mail alert rather than visiting the group. This makes multiple group membership much easier as you can keep up and comment via the weekly digest/e-mail alert without the time that was previously needed to invest in checking each group. Multiple and larger group membership also increases the number of suggested connections from LinkedIn, gives you a reason to connect that MOST are open to and lets you see full names and profiles of connections whatever their level of connection. Users should belong to the maximum number of groups possible (50), being active in the most relevent ones and monitoring the others with occasional contributions/postings.
Last tip on groups, if you are using the toolbar to add blog posts (and LinkedIn is the single biggest referer to this blog), choose which groups to post in by the relevance of the post and add an introduction, discussion point and question in the group. Much like blog comments, be sure to pick up comments on your group posts via alerts/follow and respond in a timely manner.
When I first joined LinkedIn, answering questions was a great way to connect and be seen as a subject expert. It’s still worth answering questions from target people, or questions that will show your expertise. Rather than checking questions religiously, set up an RSS feed in your topic area to monitor questions that are good for you to answer.
The key with connecting is not the invite. As I’ve discussed before, people’s attitudes to connecting on LinkedIn has changed with the advent of easy connecting via twitter. I find the standard invites (not personalised), to group members to be most effective hence the 50 groups. (this is my last post on the topic.) What is key is your second message. People will on the whole connect with anyone, but are quick to drop people who don’t measure up almost ruthlessly. Once you get the connection, spend time crafting the second message to start the relationship.
This is my view on what works best now. How do you think LinkedIn has changed, and how is this changing your approach?