Are you on the job hunt? Many job seekers are familiar with LinkedIn as a tool for finding job postings and learning more about companies they’re interested in. Also, many are familiar with LinkedIn as a basic resume-boosting platform—you likely already have a profile (with a professional-looking photo), have made a handful of connections, and have incorporated your work experience and professional history throughout your page.
But LinkedIn is a powerful tool with many unique features, and there are multiple ways to leverage LinkedIn during your job search. From keyword-optimizing your professional summary to opening up channels to message recruiters, here are 6 advanced ways to use LinkedIn to land your next job.
1. Privately signal to recruiters that you’re on the job hunt
So, you’ve decided it’s time for a new job, and you’re putting in time after your regular 9-5 to find your dream career. Unfortunately, actively looking for a new job when you’re already employed can be a bit of a balancing act. Luckily, there’s a way to open up a line of communication with potential employers while being discreet. Check out Open Candidates, a feature that LinkedIn released last year:
Open Candidates is a new feature that makes it easier to connect with your dream job by privately signaling to recruiters that you’re open to new job opportunities. You can specify the types of companies and roles you are most interested in and be easily found by the hundreds of thousands of recruiters who use LinkedIn to find great professional talent.
To get there, navigate to the “Jobs” tab on LinkedIn and hit “Update career interests.”
Then, toggle the “Let recruiters know you’re open” switch to ON. You can also fill out more specific information regarding what positions you’re interested in, where you want to work, and what type of jobs (full time, part time, etc.) you’re open to.
2. Strategically choose keywords that align with job descriptions of your ideal position
We’ve spoken before on the importance of keywords in your resume. They’re just as important on LinkedIn. Strategically using keywords on your profile helps with Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. When recruiters are seeking out candidates on LinkedIn, they’re searching for keywords that are relevant to the position—in professional headlines, in summaries, and more. And because you’re not constricted to page limits and bullet points on LinkedIn like you are with resumes, you have a fantastic opportunity for keyword optimization.
When choosing keywords, don’t just think of your own experience—think of your goals. What type of position are you looking for? We recommend spending some time on job boards and picking out 5 or 6 of the most relevant jobs that align with your interests. Read through those job descriptions. Those are the keywords that recruiters will be searching for. The keywords, skills, experiences, and verbs in those descriptions should align with the keywords on your own LinkedIn page.
3. Optimize your professional headline beyond your job title
Your headline exists below your profile photo, and by default it lists your current job title and company, for example, “Engineer at ABC Company”. That’s 120 characters of wasted space! Use your headline to not just list your title, but your impact. Here’s an example of a Before and After:
Before: Software Engineer at XYZ Company
After: Software Engineer | Full Stack Java | .NET | Designer of usable, scalable & maintainable enterprise app systems
4. Avoid buzzwords in your summary and work experience
Additionally, make sure your summary section is thorough. You should have a few keyword optimized paragraphs that relay your general background, skills, and most importantly, your passion. What excites you? What do you excel at? It’s important to do this while to avoid buzzwords like “specialized” or “motivated” and speak to your expertise in an authentic way. Here’s LinkedIn’s list of the most-often used buzzwords in 2016 and 2017:
2016 Buzzwords: Motivated, Track record, Strategic, Passionate, Successful, Dedicated, Driven, Leadership, Enthusiastic, Responsible
2017 Buzzwords: Specialized, Leadership, Passionate, Strategic, Experienced, Focused, Expert, Certified, Creative, Excellent
Finally, be descriptive in your work experience. It’s tempting—and easy—to go for a bare-bones LinkedIn profile that only includes job titles and dates, but take the time to describe your accomplishments in detail and you’ll see much better success in your search.
5. Bolster your recommendations and endorsements
Remember that LinkedIn is a social network, and networks don’t exist without people. That’s where sections like Recommendations or Featured Skills & Endorsements can be valuable—unlike your resume, where your employer only has your own word on your merits, your LinkedIn profile has accomplishments that are verified and backed up by your own peers or managers. The best way to populate these two sections requires a bit of quid pro quo. Start by actively endorsing and recommending your peers, and they’ll do the same to you. Everyone wins!
In the Featured Skills & Endorsements section of LinkedIn, your LinkedIn connections can endorse the skills you’ve published to your profile. Start by adding skills to your profile in order of importance and experience. Then, start endorsing others. Eventually, LinkedIn will pop up your featured skills to the top of your connections’ newsfeeds and suggest that they endorse you. The more you endorse others, the more opportunities others will have to do the same for you.
The same goes for recommendations. Think about who you’ve worked with in the past, or who you work for currently. How did they enhance your experience? Put some time and thought into writing recommendations for them, and ask for recommendations in return.
6. Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry
You may already be familiar with LinkedIn groups—in general, they’re interest-specific communities where like-minded peers can start discussions on a variety of topics. But did you know that if you’re a member of the same group as another user, you can bypass the need to be a first-degree connection in order to message them? This is a great opportunity for networking and to start offline conversations. Just remember—while joining groups gives you more opportunities for connecting with others, remember that the primary goal of groups is to contribute value and insight. Be memorable!
All done optimizing? Perfect. Head on over to our job board.