Recruiters are using LinkedIn to research employment candidates – study after study reveals this to be true, and in constantly growing numbers. The overall percentage of employers varies according to particular research, but it is generally understood to 75%, depending upon the sector. And, almost one quarter of employers have found information about a candidate via social networking which positively influenced them to hire someone.
In such a situation, maintaining an identity on LinkedIn that supports your job search persona is an absolute requirement for a job seeker in the 21st Century. For those that are new to LinkedIn, here is a guide to get you started: LinkedIn – Tying it all Together, and for those that want to learn about maintaining their online persona, see: http://jobsearchinisrael.blogspot.com/2010/01/your-employment-search-persona.html.
I would like to discuss some finer points of the process of fine-tuning your LinkedIn profile to serve as a positive influence on employers, or conversely not to act as a negative influence.
- Multiple Industries – This is a common concern for job seekers in Israel, those seeking a variety of positions. As hopefully most readers are aware, in Israel the convention in CVs is to send very role-focused documents, which means that people targeting different jobs create multiple versions of their CV. How can this be reconciled with the fact that in LinkedIn there is only the possibility to create a single profile? There is no perfect solution, but I advise people to create a more general purpose LinkedIn profile that incorporates their wide range of skills/experience/accomplishments. Employers know that your LinkedIn profile is not the same as your CV, that it enables more details and recommendations, so it is certainly acceptable to use it in this manner.
- Date Cleansing (education, jobs) – I encountered a semi-embarrassing situation recently. I was lecturing about CVs, and had discussed how it was a good idea for people in their 50s+ to cleanse from their CV anything that gave the employer an indication of their age (not to re-iterate this point which I have made in other articles related to CV, but my opinion is that for sensitive issues, including “advanced” age, it is better for the job candidate to hide their age during the CV stage and deal with this in person in an interview). Since I am approaching 50 (boy, that is difficult to write), I also made efforts to remove my age from my CV. Then, I moved on in my lecture to discuss the benefits of LinkedIn, how employers will find you there, and that your LinkedIn profile must be synchronized with your CV. Lo and behold, as I was showing my LinkedIn profile to the group, we discovered together that the years I attended university were listed there, making it simple to understand my age. Since then, I have gone through my profile on LinkedIn and updated what was necessary. I write semi-embarrassing because I am now living in Israel where embarrassment essentially has no meaning – in the US I might have even turned red.
- Search Targets – People that use LinkedIn best do not wait for potential employers to approach them, rather they take pro-active steps to find companies/individuals, and introduce themselves. The question is, who should be targeted in such searches to find suitable people? I have a hit rate of at least one third when I send a simple message to people that I find on LinkedIn, telling them professional-to-professional that I am researching the market and if I can ask them some questions, a pitch to start a conversation. A job seeker contacted me recently and said that he was not getting any responses when he approached people on LinkedIn. After we continued our discussion, I understood that he was targeting executives. LinkedIn is a wonderful resource to identify and reach out to relevant professionals, but it does not change certainly realities. One such reality is that when approaching executives (or recruiters), those in senior positions or those that have many people constantly approaching them, don’t expect LinkedIn to magically allow you full access to them. LinkedIn can be a wonderful resource to identify those in positions of interest to you, but if your target is to get to executives or H/R people, the path that usually produces the best results is to find someone that knows them and/or start conversations with others in the company that are more accessible and try to have these lead to your real objective.