Hiring managers, recruiters and HR departments use more than just your resume to find and learn about candidates. That's good news for candidates who have additional ways to market themselves, and ways to differentiate from their competition.
Companies often look first to Linkedin when going beyond a candidate's resume, and often search Linkedin for candidates.
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Facebook may be much larger in size, but Linkedin is a business focused social network, plus it doesn't have all the games and valentines day cards on a personal Facebook profile. If you’re a candidate, you want to be searched for and want to be found - Google indexes Linkedin profiles.
If an employer, HR staff, or recruiter Googles a job seeker by name, your Linkedin profile will turn up in the results. Job seekers should assume that they will be searched online by recruiters, before an interview is scheduled, when making short list decisions, and before a final offer is extended. In addition, recruiters and HR departments are not just searching to find dirt, but are using Linkedin and Google more frequently to find new candidates.
Employers, HR and recruiters are using Google more often to search for candidates, as evidenced by the exploding number of seminars and webinars teaching employers, HR staff, and recruiters how to use Google to source candidates. There is a whole cottage industry that trains recruiters how to use Google, Linkedin, and Facebook to find candidates, especially passive candidates. Many of these webinars state that one of the reasons Google candidate search is expanding is because of the cost - it's free.
The greater number of Linkedin Network contacts you have, the more relevant your profile is to Google, and higher your profile will rank on Google results. You can also increase your Google rankings by participating in many of Linkedin's additional functional areas. Basically, the more you use Linkedin, the higher your profile will rank in search results.
Here’s some steps of developing a well planned Linkedin profile to brand yourself as a candidate:
- Scrub your profile:
- Linkedin Inventory: While you're not likely to have the same risks with Linkedin as you might with Facebook, you still want to assume that anyone can see everything on your profile. Because Linkedin doesn't have the personal information or pictures that are so much a part of Facebook, Linkedin also doesn't have the fine tuned privacy controls that Facebook features.
- Passive Candidate issues: This is most critical for passive candidates - if your profile states that you are looking for a job on your Linkedin profile, you should be prepared that your company (and your boss) will see it. So instead of using Linkedin as an advertisement for your search, use it as an advertisement for your subject matter expertise. You can talk about being an expert in specific issues without screaming "Hire Me".
- Career Change Issues: Linkedin can be tricky for candidates seeking to change careers, because you can only have one profile. This becomes challenging for passive candidates. If you are currently working as a programmer, you might run into unintended questions if your boss finds you in a search for business analysts. Linkedin is also challenging for active candidates who hedge their bets in their old industry or function while also looking for a new industry and function. If you are a mortgage broker, who is also looking to get into software sales, you'll have to be careful that you don't confuse readers with a Linkedin profile attempting to grab both audiences.
- Messaging Control: At the top of your Linkedin home page (on your profile), there is a Network Update box (similar to Facebook's status box). Just under your network update box, there is also a Twitter icon, with a drop down arrow, allowing you distribution control over network updates. You can customize to only post on your Linkedin profile, or also to publish to Twitter, broadcasting your network update to a larger audience. As a bonus, since Google now indexes Twitter posts, your network update can increase your Google rankings and temporarily score you a 1st page ranking on Google (based on the specific keywords in your post). Make sure you consider additional issues here - Twitter accounts can be set up to forward posts automatically to Facebook, Friendfeed, and other services, including the new Google Buzz. If you are going to forward to other services, just make sure you know where these posts are going and who might see them - especially relevant for passive candidates.
- Summarize: Use your profile to build your Social Brand and subject matter expertise (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-use-social-branding.html). Linkedin allows you to rearrange whole sections of your profile, so new grads can put education first, while senior professionals and managers can put experience sections first (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/more-control-for-job-seekers-over-their.html). Your Linkedin profile will be read much like your resume, so using resume real estate effectively is critical in building your Linkedin profile (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/10-ways-to-manage-your-resume-real.html).
Build your professional profile:
- Active Candidates: make sure your profile's professional headline (just under your name) indicates you are looking for a job. This lets your friends know, without being a glommer (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-job-seekers-can-destroy-networking.html). Additionally, your long lost work and college friends may stumble upon you and happen to work at a company that needs a person like you. Finally, it's easier for a recruiter or HR rep to find you when you list you're actively looking in your headline. Linkedin can help this “luck” happen (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/5-ways-to-get-lucky-in-your-job-search.html).
- Passive Candidates: Unless you want your boss to find out that you’re looking for a new job, don’t advertise it actively on Linkedin. Instead use Linkedin to broadcast your expertise.
Build your Linkedin network:
Build and promote your expertise:
For those who aren't comfortable with social networks:
Linkedin isn’t a silver bullet:
While Linkedin can be an investment of time, it can help job seekers control and promote their personal brand very effectively, to a wide audience. Best yet, a well designed Linkedin profile can get your information into the databases of hundreds of thousands of recruiters and HR staff, increasing your chances to “get lucky”.
Readers, please comment with your suggestions. How can you use Linkedin to build your own personal brand?
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