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How to use LinkedIn to full advantage

LinkedIn is a social networking site like no other. Rather than 'tweet', 'poke' or simply upload ridiculous amounts of excessive photos, LinkedIn benefits the professional working individual in meaningful aspects; it could be the perfect place to find your next work position. As of 4th August 2011, LinkedIn was reported to have 120 million members and counting, so it really is a good idea to set yourself up with a profile, especially if you're considering a new career move. Here's how:

Before you start to connect

  • Make sure your employment status points out that you are job-seeking, not everyone will know!
  • Unlike a CV, make your LinkedIn profile a bit more sociable and personal. Voice in the 1st person and come across as how you would speak in real life.
  • Of course, emphasise that you are a reputable professional, but LinkedIn is still slightly less serious than an actual CV document. You want to engage with people and essentially get them to like you.
  • Take your CV and use that as a guideline, including key words which recruiters would normally pick up on. You want to make yourself as easily searchable as possible- people already in your network aren't going to be the only ones who can help you. Make sure you stand out, as with a CV or job application.
  • Make sure you fill in everything, and really think it over. If you're just treating LinkedIn as you would do say with your Facebook, you're not going to get very far. Enter all of your contact details so that interested employers can get in touch if they wish.
  • With your photograph, choose a picture that is professional and smiley, obviously not one from that drunken night out or you showing off those excellent balloon animal skills. 
  • Emphasise your hobbies and voluntary work sections, as these can make you stand out over your competitors. You can show yourself as the compassionate, proactive individual you really are.
  • Of course, upload your CV. If a recruiter sees you and wants to know more, that's the perfect next step for them. Make sure that an up-to-scratch document, with your main goals and ambitions is uploaded. If you're applying to a few different positions, mention a broader "seeking" description in the profile, which could apply to all roles, and emphasise your transferable skills.

Once you're set up

  • Get in touch with old colleagues or uni mates and see what they're up to. Let them know what you've been doing and that you're looking for a new role.
  • Ask for referrals; the more you have, the better you look.
  • Be referred to people who your contacts know, and message them. Drop them a line and ask if they know of any positions going in the company, or if they could mention to someone that you are looking. Networking is key.
  • Comment on others' shares and people may begin to notice you. Provide constructive feedback and perhaps post a link you have found in a response. Others can pick up on this and those who are interested in what you have to say may contact you.
  • And obviously, now that you can Apply via LinkedIn, look at companies you are interested in and apply for roles with your profile! You could even do further background research by seeing which employees are under that company and contacting them on LinkedIn, see what kind of people work there and what the expectations are, and what it's really like to work at that company.

Once set up and connected, LinkedIn really can provide you with many a decent job opportunity, so what are you waiting for? Time to get networking!

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