|  August 22, 2013

Why you need to be on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is something I write a lot about on The Prepary.  It is one of the most important tools (for both job seekers and recruiters) on the job search front these days… and is positioned to stay that way for years to come. In this post, we’ll talk a little bit about why it’s such a powerful tool, and then also the top 5 reasons why you need to be on LinkedIn.

Before LinkedIn, the internal organization of a company was not at all transparent.  If you wanted to know who was in the Finance department at Company X you had to pay companies for that information (companies that had spent lots of time and energy researching that industry and carefully mapping it out).  Today, the users of LinkedIn generate that information directly. LinkedIn has created a place where people feel comfortable creating, editing, and sharing their professional online presence. It is also a place where people feel comfortable to connecting to a wide variety of people who have impacted (or may be able to impact) their professional world.

Because of this, if a company is looking for someone with a Finance degree and 2 years of work experience, it’s almost as simple as googling it.

This level of access brings a whole new meaning to “proactive recruiting”.  Instead of needing to post a job online and wait for those to express interest, companies can pull up a list people they think might be qualified and reach out to them directly (of course, if the user allows it).  There are merits to both ways of course but reaching out to the select group is certainly more efficient than screening through hundreds of resumes.  Regardless, I’ve noticed most companies take a two-pronged approach, looking through interested applicants who have applied as well as being proactive and reaching out through LinkedIn.

The reasons why you (as a job-seeker or just a professional in general) need to be on LinkedIn are simple.

  1. You want your background and resume be visible – because you never know who is looking and who might need your skill set – and people arelooking. Even if you are happy where you are and not currently looking for a change, you may be able to gain contacts for a time when you are.
  2. You want to keep track of your professional contacts – this is another great reason why you need to be on LinkedIn. It’s probably not a great idea to friend every single person who you work with on facebook, but on LinkedIn, it is both appropriate & expected.  As people move around in their careers, you never know when someone you’ve met or worked with in the past will be essential to connect with.
  3. You can reach out to anyone (for a price) – applied to your dream job and fear your resume has gone into a black hole?  Find a recruiter or hiring manager at that company and reach out directly.  LinkedIn allows you to pay for the ability to send an “inmail” (essentially an email) to anyone on LinkedIn.  It is the most “worth it” few dollars you will ever spend.  Some info on job seeker tools can be found here.
  4. You can take advantage of tons of resources – on LinkedIn today, there is everything from “resume builder” tools to “how-to” videos on networking.  They’re all free and really great things to take a look at while you are focused on searching for a job. There are also resources specifically for students.
  5. Groups, job listings, etc. – join groups, browse job listings, and much more.  If there is one place you want to be “active” on (in ways that are professional and appropriate… we’ll cover etiquette and dos and donts in future posts) it is definitely LinkedIn.

So if you are not on LinkedIn yet, sign up.  If you have a profile but it’s outdated, update it.  Build up your online professional presence, add connections, get active, and it will pay dividends.

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