If you break down the foundations of a successful job search process, it’s pretty simple.
- Write a great resume and cover letter
- Meet with some specialist recruiters (that’s us!)
- Network and build your ‘personal brand’ among the right people
Most people get the first two steps right, but I don’t meet many who invest nearly enough time on #3.
There’s really no excuse for that. It’s never been easier to network and build your own brand as an employee. While face-to-face networking will always have its place, nowadays you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your couch to get to know the right people in your industry.
Yep, I’m talking about the undisputed big gun in your online job search arsenal: LinkedIn.
I work with accounting professionals every day to help them power up their job search. I’m floored at the number who tell me they don’t have a LinkedIn profile. Or who do, but haven’t filled it out in full and never use it. Some even ask me what LinkedIn is, which almost knocks me off my chair.
If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re simply not in the running for many of the best opportunities
I recently completed my Masters thesis on LinkedIn’s role in recruitment and selection procedures, and found that in New Zealand, around 70% of recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn to source top talent. For many, it’s their first (and increasingly only) port of call, after their own database.
Note that this is 70% of hiring managers and recruiters across ALL sectors - from unskilled labour right through to executive level. I’d actually be very surprised if there was a single white collar recruiter left in New Zealand who doesn’t use LinkedIn as a key part of their process.
Often recruiters and hiring managers avoid advertising on job boards, particularly at senior level or for specialised roles, instead focussing on referrals, their own database, and LinkedIn. If recruiters can’t find you, then you have just missed out on a new opportunity.
Resumes are pretty limiting, but you can really shine on LinkedIn
Even if you do make it onto a shortlist via a traditional job board, the first thing most recruiters and hiring managers will do is look you up on LinkedIn. This is very common practice – so common that many recruitment databases now have a feature that automatically pulls up a new candidate’s LinkedIn profile.
One of the reasons recruiters and hiring managers do this is to cross-check for any discrepancies (so you need to take extra care that the information you’ve provided is consistent across your resume and your LinkedIn profile).
But they’re also looking to find out a bit more about you. This is the unfair advantage you have over your competitors who aren’t on LinkedIn. Here, you can:
- Link to any articles, research or presentations you might have authored
- Showcase your industry knowledge by making thoughtful comments on relevant posts and blogs
- Post your own blogs using LinkedIn publisher
- Show recommendations and endorsements you have from employers, colleagues and clients
In short, it’s your own mini-personal website, where you can showcase your value to a potential employer. And it’s free. Why wouldn’t you use that?
It’s all about who you know
The great thing about LinkedIn is that it gives you an opportunity to connect and build relationships with people who you might never have had a chance to meet in the dark old days.
Most recruiters and many hiring managers post regularly about all sorts of topics ranging from industry and technical developments, to career, to information about what it’s like to work for their company; so there’s ample opportunity for you to contribute to the discussion and build new relationships online.
And, of course, LinkedIn makes it super easy to keep in touch with your existing network – some of the best jobs come from old colleagues, managers, clients and mentors.
No matter where you are in your career, my challenge to you is to make building a great profile on LinkedIn a priority. You’d be mad not to.