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What's the secret to getting hired from LinkedIn?

Confused job seeker

"How can I use LinkedIn to land a job?"

Asked by job hunters in almost every industry, occupation, and career level, this question regularly crops up in job seeker message boards, LinkedIn Groups, and other career transition forums.

If you've also shared this sentiment - wondering why others are getting hired from LinkedIn (while it seems you're sitting back and watching), then you have plenty of company.

The secrets to getting hired from LinkedIn are simple at the outset: display a professional demeanor, update your Profile with critical information, and use the site to build industry relationships.

But there’s more to it than that—including numerous actions you’ve probably seen as unnecessary before now.

Here are the 5 keys to becoming successful in using LinkedIn for a job search, including advice on how your career can be affected if you ignore these steps.

1 - You need more Connections.
1 - You need more Connections. iStockPhoto

1 - You need more Connections.

This still (surprisingly!) comes up at times, as some LinkedIn users don't understand the advantage of a wide digital network.

Building a large volume of Connections isn’t important to impress people (OK, maybe it is to some people); it’s key to your success because of the proximity you’ll gain to the employers, industry leaders, and recruiters.

LinkedIn has demonstrated to us, over and over, that WHO you know—as much as WHAT you know—will move you along faster in your career. How can you tell?

The default sort order for other LinkedIn users is Relationship degrees (your 1st, 2nd, 3rd-degree Connections, etc.). In other words, people close to others pop up first in searches, and this will benefit you when employers are seeking YOUR talents.

LinkedIn practically waves your Profile in the face of your 1st-degree or 2nd-degree Connections. This makes it easier for your Status updates and other actions to be consistently seen by other users.

Becoming at least a 2nd-degree Connection to a huge volume of people is startlingly easy, especially if you make nice with LinkedIn power users. Connect to them, and voila! You’re already on your way to mini-celebrity status (in the eyes of employers, where it matters).

Get in touch with former classmates, colleagues, or friends if you feel reluctant to reach out. Doing so will give you a head-start on claiming your spot in the social media stratosphere.

Remember: there’s no sense in joining LinkedIn just to hold back. The more Connections you build, the more people can access your Profile or read about you.

2 - You need to get involved with Groups.
2 - You need to get involved with Groups. iStockPhoto

2 - You need to get involved with Groups.

Sure, you've already joined some Groups - but now you don't see the benefit in either participating in them, or expanding your network to other Groups.

This misconception can hold you back, especially if you've limited yourself to Groups that represent your personal interests, religion, or current job. Instead, consider the Groups that represent your GOALS.

Where are you headed in your career? What job do you expect to have 10-15 years into the future?

Now, join those Groups—the ones that contain like-minded people who’ve already arrived at your career goalpost, or who are likely to be the people you need to use as role models for your ultimate objective.

Get to know them; send a LinkedIn invitation to them and explain why you’re interested in connecting, and how you read their blog, admire their company, or share an alma mater. Find something in common and touch base from time to time.

Participate in your new Groups, instead of being the quiet lurker no one knows. Post an occasional article that reflects your professional views, and ask others for their input. Write an article and after you’ve successfully published it in your field, circulate it in your Groups.

Continue to join additional Groups, study their member behaviors, participate in the dialogue, and circulate information.

This strategy will get you definitely get you noticed, with a steady improvement in your traffic and Connection volume. In addition, you'll emerge as a thought leader in your industry - and land your new job much more quickly.

3 - You need to check out your LinkedIn competition.
3 - You need to check out your LinkedIn competition. iStockPhoto

3 - You need to check out your LinkedIn competition.

Let's say you applied to 12 jobs last month on LinkedIn, but you didn't hear anything back.

Now what?

First of all, figure out who your competition was for these jobs. That’s right – you'll need to look for candidates the same way recruiters would look for YOU.

Use the “search for people, jobs, companies, more…” function at the top of your LinkedIn page, but click on Advanced next to it for a more robust search.

Enter Keywords, Job Titles, and other criteria; change these until you get the most likely candidates for your target jobs (people with job titles and locations similar to yours). Now, you’re looking at your competition!

Next, look for consistent patterns in their skills or career backgrounds that differ from yours? If so, you may need to either adjust your career goal, or set out to learn new competencies.

After all, if you can find these job hunters, so can recruiters.

If you don’t take these steps, you’ll continue to apply to jobs on LinkedIn, and continue to be passed over in favor of these candidates.

4 - You need to optimize your LinkedIn Profile for keyword SEO.
4 - You need to optimize your LinkedIn Profile for keyword SEO. iStockPhoto

4 - You need to optimize your LinkedIn Profile for keyword SEO.

If you've read articles on LinkedIn keyword optimization (also called LinkedIn Search Engine Optimization or SEO) for your Profile, you know how important keyword strategy can be to your success.

However, most people who are frustrated with LinkedIn inevitably have a LinkedIn Profile that rambles on about how “versatile” and “adaptable” they are, with little regard to the hard skills employers are seeking.

Specific, technical capabilities (such as “project management,” “grant writing,” “application development,” or “P&L”) are valuable to companies that are hiring.

“Self-motivation” or “communications skills,” not so much.

These skills-based keywords WILL get you more traffic and more job opportunities on LinkedIn, so take every opportunity to use them (repeatedly) throughout your Profile.

Also, look up the skills noted on your desired job descriptions, and add them in your Skills & Expertise section. Ask others for Endorsements on them (which will also increase your hit rate for these terms).

Start making changes now... and you'll notice an uptick in your traffic within days.

5 - You must use LinkedIn for follow-up.
5 - You must use LinkedIn for follow-up. iStockPhoto

5 - You must use LinkedIn for follow-up.

Applying to an online job posting (on LinkedIn or elsewhere) is no longer a good idea without some form of follow-up.

If you can identify the employer, it's typically easy to find the hiring manager’s name by using LinkedIn.

To access this information, comb through a list of employees at the target company (perform a Company Search on LinkedIn, of course). Identify the most likely person there who would hire you (usually 1 or 2 levels above your ideal job).

Next, read the company’s press and look at what’s going on in the industry. Your mission is to determine their pain points. Why do they need to hire you? What’s happening in this company that requires your expertise?

Then, use the contact name you identified to reach out. Send an email, LinkedIn InMail, or even an FedEx overnight letter. Explain that you applied online and want to follow up, or better yet, explain how you’ve identified the key areas of need at this company, and how you can help.

Whether you’re doing this in reply to an online job announcement, or just looking at likely employers to pursue, the process is the same. See how much more personal and focused you can be with this approach?

In short, if you’re still wondering if you missed the LinkedIn train to job search success, the answer is yes.

Now go out and sharpen your approach with these extra steps to get more employer attention!

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