“LinkedIn has developed a killer resource of 225 million users, one you absolutely should take advantage of when it comes to your career. But you’ll have to navigate LinkedIn’s potentially tricky tools and settings while you’re at it. Not to mention take care to maintain proper etiquette at all times. That’s a lot of pressure.” – The Complete Guide to LinkedIn Etiquette, Stephanie Buck
Most LinkedIn members use the network in search of a job, or at least that’s the reason they create an account. In response to these employment seeking users, there are a lot of recruiters actively searching for the job hunters, so its important to look your best when using this social media tool catered to professionals
No matter your background, keep in mind Stephanie Buck’s etiquette dos and don’ts when logging into LinkedIn, the web’s largest professional network…
1. Hide your activity, but make your profile public.
This could get confusing, so let’s break it down. When you plan to look for a new job, one of the first things you should do is update your LinkedIn profile. However, you don’t want to alert your current bosses of all this activity, lest they get suspicious.
Head to Privacy & Settings > Profile > Privacy Controls > Turn on/off your activity broadcasts. This will prevent edits to your profile from appearing in LinkedIn’s feed of updates, on your boss’ homepage. After unchecking that box, feel free to make updates, follow companies and apply to jobs via LinkedIn in peace.
However, consider turning on your public profile so others can see when you’ve viewed their profiles. Katrina Wright, VP at Ferguson Partners, a global professional services firm specializing in executive search, says a public profile can alert the right people that you’re interested in their work.
“If [you] are browsing profiles of HR managers at companies [you] are targeting to go work for, adjust the setting so those people can see that the prospect viewed their profiles,” she says. They’ll know you’re interested in learning about the people behind the companies, instead of just following the brand alone.
Navigate Privacy & Settings > Profile > Privacy Controls > Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile and click “your name and headline.”
2. Maintain a transparent public profile.
In addition to updating all the information on your LinkedIn profile, make sure you remain as open as possible about your professional past. According to LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams, the most common mistake job seekers make on LinkedIn is not accounting for gaps in their employment histories.
We’ve all had jobs that don’t align with our ultimate career goals, times when we’ve chosen to go back to school or even months we needed a sabbatical. Wright suggests using the summary part of your LinkedIn profile to explain these gaps. Remain candid and accountable.
“If you took a year off to travel or tend to a family situation that needed your attention and were not employed during that time, address these gaps,” Wright says. “Any good recruiter is going to ask you, or worse, might eliminate you for an opportunity when they see the gaps.”
Go beyond filling in gaps, Williams says. List positions and experiences that don’t necessarily align with your current career track. You never know what might strike a chord with a recruiter or an employer you haven’t considered.
“They are going to discern what’s relevant to them, not you,” Williams says. Your employer may have studied law in another life, so your stint as an associate attorney might strike a chord. Don’t leave it out.
Furthermore, include the various titles you’ve achieved at one company, along with the period of time you held them and your responsibilities for each. “This tells us how quickly you moved up within the organization and about your value add to the company,” Wright says.
3. Get to know the people behind the position.
Here’s where LinkedIn creepiness works in your favor. Use your advanced search skills to find the hiring manager behind the position you’re applying for. Try connecting with that person. Even if she doesn’t accept your request, at the very least she’ll see you tried, or viewed her profile.
Do your due diligence to get to know the people behind the company, Williams says. What do you have in common? Did your hiring manager volunteer at the SPCA in college, like you? What did he do before IBM? What articles is he sharing?
“For job seekers online, it’s not so different from meeting in person. You want to build a rapport first before asking for an opportunity,” Williams says.
After you’ve established a connection or sent her an InMail, inquire about job opportunities, or ask someone to make an introduction so you can learn more about the company. People are much more responsive when they know you’ve taken the time to care.
1. Be aggressive.
According to LinkedIn, 60% of professionals aren’t actively seeking new employment, but would be open to the opportunity if it presented itself. That stat makes LinkedIn a gold mine for recruiters.
“Recruiters are looking for passive talent,” Williams says.
Similar to our advice for job seekers, keep your profile open and public. LinkedIn Premium members will be able to see when recruiters are viewing their profiles, then can click through and see what kind of talent acquisition agencies are targeting them.
Furthermore, use tools like InMail to reach out to especially promising candidates. (We promise most users won’t mind at all.) LinkedIn recruiter tiers start at $99.95 per month, up to $719.95 per month, with access to a variety of features, including InMail, premium search filters and out-of-network visibility.
2. Be personable.
Whether you’re using LinkedIn’s free or premium models, the network’s tools can be highly valuable.
Most people don’t have access to unlimited InMail, for example, so make sure each message you send counts. Just as you would research your hiring manager, learn more about potential recruits and present opportunities narrowly tailored to their interests and skills. The first point of contact should answer the question “Why you? Why Stephanie, versus Peter from down the street?”
“If you just come in and say, ‘Hey, here are six figures and travel opportunities,’ the majority of people are going to dismiss that as spam,” Williams says. “It’s about investing in understanding who this is, their skill sets.”
1. Don’t make us work.
LinkedIn is a place for professionals. That level of professionalism should apply to all methods of communication across the platform. If you’re in PR, first reaching out to someone with an idea or a product, don’t come off too chummy or informal. Get to the point, graciously.
One of the first rules of PR pitches is to share a deliverable early on. Whether in the form of an enticing stat, a kickass testimonial or a shocking video, you’ll need a hook to keep your reader’s attention. In the example above, not only does the PR representative never describe what he’s pitching; he doesn’t even link to it.
Do you really expect people to type a company name into Google and then browse the site to learn more about it?
People are on LinkedIn to get business done. It’s not Facebook — they’re not casually browsing photo albums out of boredom. Get to the point so we can all get back to work.
2. Forget copy/paste.
We’ve officially exited the era of mass press releases. “The blind copy PR outreach just doesn’t work anymore,” Williams says.
The advantage of social media is that you have access to personal details about people — a phenomenon that didn’t exist 10 years ago. And it doesn’t take long to peruse someone’s LinkedIn profile for interests you might be able to tap.
For example, by looking at my profile, you would see I posted a clip about YouTube makeup guru Michelle Phan. Perhaps you would use that information to segue into a pitch about a new iPad app for young women in STEM careers. That way, you’re demonstrating I don’t just cover “technology”; my speciality is digital lifestyle and social media psychology.
“It’s that PR person’s job to know what I cover,” Williams says. “It’s their job to have done the research to identify what they have to offer, as it pertains to your career and what you’re interested in.”