14 November 2018

    Chana Boucher

    Bring your dream career closer to reality with LinkedIn

    Described in the past as ‘Facebook for boring people’ or ‘the poor cousin of social media’, LinkedIn has evolved to become one of the most powerful business tools in the world. You could be benefitting from it in your personal and professional life.

    At the start of this year, there were three million active job listings on LinkedIn. Furthermore, around 90% of recruiters said they recruit on the platform, with around 48% of them doing so exclusively. And, FYI, almost two-thirds of the world’s millionaires use LinkedIn.

    So, why are you spending most of your time and data watching cat videos, looking at pics of your exes and posting emojis under funny memes or selfies when you could be using social media to find your dream job? Here’s how:

    Elizabeth Fletcher, co-owner of online presence consultancy Pomegranite, says LinkedIn is ‘a great way to put yourself out there, keep tabs on industry news and maintain professional relationships’. For job seekers specifically though, she says the platform can be used for job searches and checking out the employers of your connections.

    If you’re looking for employment or perhaps are open to new opportunities, LinkedIn lets you search and apply for jobs directly. You can also get in touch with your connections and ask them to refer you for an available position if they work at the company or have another connection who does.

    But it’s not just people who can get you closer to finding that job - you should keep an eye on the profiles of companies you’re interested in working for. By viewing company profiles you’ll be able to see who you know there, new hires, promotions, job openings, company statistics and more.

    For Alice Jakins, a freelance digital workflow facilitator, LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool for finding new clients and/or projects. She says: ‘I’ve been able to connect with people at companies who I see myself partnering with. I recently got a message back from a potential client in the UK who is open to chatting about a remote gig.’

    Valuable connections

    How often do you hear people say: ‘It’s all about who you know?’ With LinkedIn, your network of contacts can grow without even meeting people face-to-face. As Melanie Pinola, author of LinkedIn in 30 Minutes: How to create a rock-solid LinkedIn profile and build connections that matter, explains: ‘One of the great things about LinkedIn is that it isn’t the same kind of networking that happens at conventions, where you’re wearing a name tag, trying to meet strangers, and awkwardly attempting to make small talk. LinkedIn is networking without the pressure.’

    While you will most likely start off by connecting with friends, family and ex-classmates, you’ll want to reach out to people who are in your industry and who could perhaps open doors for you along your career path. Alice says: ‘I’ve identified clients who I would love to partner with and look to connect with them. I also look at what the market is needing and focus my attention to this need too.’

    But it’s no good finding these connections if your profile isn’t up to scratch. For Elizabeth, essentials for a LinkedIn profile include professional presentation, ‘in images and writing – no club snaps and no typos’, and up-to-date information.

    If you’re just starting out, or giving your profile a boost, make sure you include searchable keywords about your skills and experience that hiring managers would use to locate potential candidates. You can add them in your summary, interests, former job titles and skills.

    Should you shell out for the Premium version of LinkedIn? Elizabeth says it can depend on how you use the platform, but advises: ‘As a job seeker, I don’t think it’s necessary… but give a free trial a go and see what roles come your way.’

    The free, basic account includes features such as messaging, profile creation and ways to apply for jobs being advertised on LinkedIn. The Premium version, meanwhile, offers additional features and resources to expand your online presence.

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    Chana Boucher