How LinkedIn can Advance your Career

How LinkedIn can Advance your Career

Most people think of LinkedIn primarily as a job board, but when used strategically, the platform can be an excellent planning, lifelong-learning, networking, and visibility-building tool to help you advance your career.

LinkedIn is a powerful career development tool for individuals at any stage of their career, including senior high school students, professionals from graduate to executive level, creatives, contractors, consultants, and business owners.

Over the last twelve months, we have seen upheaval in the job market and a loss of jobs spanning all levels and from across multiple industries. There has been no other time that has better highlighted the importance of good personal branding and having an established and nurtured network that you can turn to in tough times. LinkedIn is a tool that allows for just that, the opportunity to nurture existing relationships, to build new networks and to create a strong personal brand.

LinkedIn has gone through some exciting changes to keep up with the challenges facing jobseekers. It now has more than 756 million active members across 200 countries, with usage on the site only continuing to increase.

If you have been debating about setting up a LinkedIn profile, or have a profile that doesn’t get much love, then here are 8 reasons why you should be investing some more time in LinkedIn:

Job search functionality

Recruiters and employers now use LinkedIn extensively to source candidates either via advertising positions on the LinkedIn job board or by actively searching for suitable candidates who match keywords. If you are in the market for a new position, then you really should be on LinkedIn to increase your chances of securing your next role.

In addition, you can use LinkedIn as part of an active job search strategy to identify target companies and hiring managers and go direct. Many employers are keen to build their talent pool with direct applicants as it reduces their advertising and recruitment costs so always go direct where you can, especially if you have a mutual connection who can make an introduction for you.

In addition, over 90% of recruiters now check to see if you have a LinkedIn profile as part of the recruitment screening process. Therefore, a professional, complete and compelling profile that is consistent with your resume and clearly outlines your relevant experience, skills and achievements is an absolute must.

To get discovered

LinkedIn is also a hunting ground for recruitment agencies and talent acquisition managers who are looking for ‘passive’ candidates (i.e. people happy in their jobs and not actively looking) who have specialist skills or expertise. If you possess skills that are in demand, then by having a complete and keyword optimised LinkedIn profile, you may well receive a tap on the shoulder from a recruiter who has identified you as an attractive candidate. In fact, in this article from Hootsuite, they confirmed that 3 people get hired through LinkedIn every minute.

Maintaining your network

“Your network is your net worth. How do you value your network? Well, if you don’t value it, cultivate it, nurture it, it becomes worthless. If you do value it, it becomes priceless” Robert G Allen

One of the greatest advantages of LinkedIn is the ability to reconnect with people from your past such as school friends, university alumni or ex-colleagues, clients and bosses. Even when someone changes jobs, or even countries, LinkedIn has the search functionality to help you find them again.

If you experience a sudden redundancy, job loss or are returning to work after a career break, it is these relationships that will often be instrumental in helping you find that next role.

Expanding your network

Whilst maintaining and nurturing your network is important, career success also comes from continuing to expand your network. LinkedIn is a great networking tool, particularly if you are someone who doesn’t find the traditional networking methods agreeable. For those who are a little more introverted, LinkedIn allows them to build connections in a more subtle way through engaging in conversations online, sharing content or congratulating someone in their network on a promotion or business win.

Research capability

Another great feature of LinkedIn is its powerful research capability which the majority of users are not even aware of. Not only can LinkedIn be used by recruiters and talent acquisition managers, but it also offers great research capability for jobseeker’s keen to do their due diligence on potential employers or hiring managers. Users can conduct keyword searches with a number of different filters to find specific job functions within organisations which allows for jobseekers to go direct to the hiring manager rather than waiting for that perfect role to appear on job boards.

Personal branding

LinkedIn also offers the perfect platform for members to  raise their profile within their current organisation and their industry sector.  LinkedIn allows the sharing of content as well as the opportunity for users to write posts or publish articles or videos to showcase their work. By consistently sharing useful and relevant information with your followers, you may just start to be noticed by the decision-makers in your industry.

Commercial acumen

LinkedIn is also a fabulous way to learn about different industries, companies and key players. By ‘following’ companies or persons of interests and joining industry groups, you can learn a lot about what is happening in your industry. LinkedIn allows you to stay up-to-date with changes and trends affecting your industry, whether it is a new appointment, a company takeover or an update on a client or colleague changing jobs. For university students looking for the edge when it comes to graduate recruitment, LinkedIn is highly recommended for this reason alone.

To grow your business

The online world is all about content creation and LinkedIn has recently introduced LinkedIn Creator Mode to directly support that. The aim of creator mode is to help individuals grow their audience and has been designed especially for freelancers, business owners and consultants who can now display their services on their LinkedIn page. Activating these services enables you to become visible through searches on LinkedIn Marketplace, a new feature reportedly being launched later this year similar to freelance marketing platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr.

In addition, LinkedIn’s research capability offers business owners, contractors and consultants a great tool for identifying new leads or referral partners. In fact, Hubspot found that LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook and Twitter.

As you can see, there are a huge number of benefits to being on LinkedIn and it is much more than just a social media tool. Even spending five to seven minutes a day on LinkedIn can make a big difference to you advancing or future-proofing your career.

Go Beyond the Basics With LinkedIn to Advance Your Career

To get the most out of LinkedIn, start by thinking strategically about your career goals. Then find ways to use the platform’s more-advanced features, like network building and blogging, to achieve them.

Here are some tips and tactics for using LinkedIn in a more advanced way.

Lay a solid foundation. Be sure your profile is up to date, supports your current career goals, and is consistent with any other online professional profiles you may have. For LinkedIn to work optimally, your profile needs to be at “all star” or “complete” status. This means that, at a minimum, you’ve included a photo, your location, industry, education, current work position and description, two past positions, and skills, and you’ve made at least 50 connections.

Also, complete these sections:

  • the “About” section, where you can add some personality and convey who you are as well as your career aspirations
  • the skills and accomplishments sections, where you can display your skill set—including any new skills you’ve developed—highlight important achievements, and provide links to or upload examples of your work that illustrate your expertise

Make sure you use relevant keywords associated with the function or industry you’re interested in so you can “be found” for career opportunities that support your goals.

Study others’ career paths. Often, those beginning their careers or at a mid-career crossroads find themselves asking: What do I want to do next? What are my options? With more than 100 million professionals posting profiles, LinkedIn makes a superb research tool for learning about the career paths that professionals in other occupations or in more senior roles have taken. Reviewing profiles with an eye toward learning about the daily responsibilities of people in the types of jobs you’re interested in—as well as the variety of career paths those professionals took to get to their current role—can give you some ideas for next steps in your own journey.

Join groups for professional development. One of the best ways to learn the latest skills and trends in your profession is by joining some of the more than 2 million active LinkedIn groups (such as the ASAE group). These are forums composed of people sharing a common profession, industry, or civic or other interest. The key is to be an active participant; you can enhance your learning by engaging. Share information and opinions on professional hot topics or reach out to talk shop and tap into others’ expertise.

Networking Strategy Guide

Click here to download the author's free LinkedIn networking strategy guide with sample questions for informational interviews, templates to help you reach out to new connections, and other tools and tips for better networking.

Expand your network. You probably know that you should start building your LinkedIn network by inviting your current and past colleagues (your first-level connections) to connect. This is where many people stop. To take full advantage of LinkedIn’s networking power and expand your reach, build your second-level connections by asking your first-level connections to introduce you to people in their networks. Also reach out to your association’s vendors and members. Make it worth another person’s while to connect with you by sharing pointers or information that can help you both reach your goals.

Build visibility by posting articles. By sharing articles about your areas of interest or expertise, or by writing them yourself with the blogging feature, you can use LinkedIn to help you raise your professional visibility. Writing or sharing useful content can help you become known as a reliable resource and subject matter expert, which can position you as someone ready to transition to a new, more challenging role inside or outside your organization.

Maintaining a current and active online presence with LinkedIn can have many career benefits. 

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