This one goes out to all the LinkedIn lurkers—you know who you are. You created a profile because someone told you to, required you to, or because you had FOMO (fear of missing out.) But you’re still holding back on being a contributing member of the global society that is LinkedIn. Whether your reason revolves around imposter syndrome, perceived lack of time, thinking you have to have everything “figured out” and “branded” before you start really posting and engaging, or some other surface reason, the bottom line is the same: you aren’t convinced that LinkedIn has the power to get you a job. Because if you were, you’d do whatever it took to learn how to leverage it to do just that!
Back in February of this year, a woman reached out to me on LinkedIn with a message that read, “You have a really interesting background and I saw that you spent some time in admissions/higher ed as well, which is where I recently pivoted out of! Would you have 15 minutes in the next few weeks for an informational interview? I appreciate your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you!”
She didn’t ask me for a job, or for me to connect her with anyone, she led with genuine curiosity. We did have that Zoom call and we hit it off immediately, as both colleagues with similar backgrounds and friends in similar stages of life. Flash forward three months and a few more messages back and forth sharing life updates, and it was my turn to ask her a question… we had an opening at my company, did she want to interview for a job in my department? This is one anecdotal story out of thousands that are happening every day on LinkedIn, and that’s the power of this platform. Gone are the days of networking that required excessive amounts of extroverted energy and were painful for more reserved, introverted people. Here are the days when you can navigate the job market on your own time, from the comfort of your home— even wearing your pajamas!
Let’s talk about networking in more depth, then I’ll share two other reasons I think LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for every individual, whether they are actively looking for a job or not:
To build off of the networking model we saw play out in my story above, let’s imagine LinkedIn as a 24/7 career fair. There are people represented from all walks of life and all types of industries, rows and rows of interesting booths with people and information ready for you to access, but you’re in charge of deciding which tables to stop at and how to use your time. Discernment and intentionality are needed in order to evaluate the value an interaction might bring to your life (don’t forget the reverse is also true—think about how you can be of value to others!) That’s not to say you shouldn’t network with people in other industries, only that you can do anything, you can’t do everything. Focus the bulk of your activity on LinkedIn towards people, companies, and pages that are relevant to some aspect of your job search. Then create meaningful interactions with them via high quality comments, messages, and posts you tag them in. Over time, many of them will come to recognize your name and picture and a positive sentiment will form. These are then prime conditions for you to use the social capital you’ve built to make an ask—whether that is forming a collegial connection, or asking a hiring manager to review your resume from their pile of 200 candidates.
A survey by Jobvite found that 87% of recruiters cited LinkedIn as the most effective tool they use to vet candidates during the hiring process. Why? Because an active, well put together LinkedIn profile has the potential to showcase so much more than just your work history. The last three job offers I’ve received have come almost exclusively via my LinkedIn profile, with one CEO telling me, “I know this should be an interview, but really it’s a conversation because I learned everything I need to know about you and your track record of success by reviewing your extensive LinkedIn.”
Don’t miss this critical opportunity to showcase your accomplishments, personality, and interests via LinkedIn. Add pictures and media to your jobs, add some personal projects in your projects section that make you a real person (I list each book I read every year as a “reading challenge” so people can see what I’m learning about, for example,) and make sure to connect the dots of your life story clearly and colorfully in your About section. One more benefit to having a well put together LinkedIn profile is its ability to rank your name more highly in Google searches. Because LinkedIn is a large and powerful network, search results for your name will often appear much higher in searches than say your personal portfolio website because it is attached to the LinkedIn name.
Pulse on the Market
In my humble opinion, there is no better way to stay up to date on what is happening in your industry, on both a macro and micro scale, than LinkedIn. The ease of searching for posts about a specific topic, or which include specific hashtags, is extraordinary. And with more than 57 million companies present—which includes 98% of fortune 500 companies—and more than 800 million users, there is always a wealth of information and opinions to fuel your learning efforts. For example, lately there have been a number of massive layoffs in the tech industry. We are living through an economic downturn and companies are taking strides to preserve their futures, one strategy for which has been engaging in layoffs. In years past, I would have missed a lot of that news altogether, as I just wasn’t effectively plugged into traditional news outlets that might have covered it. But on LinkedIn, I can’t escape hearing about it! And I mean that in a positive way. Engaging regularly on the platform puts me in the middle of the conversation about what these layoffs means for the tech industry as a whole, and more specifically, for the job seekers I work with on a daily basis.
The Power of Mixing LinkedIn with a Career in Code
So now you should have a better understanding of why social media, specifically LinkedIn, is so important in job markets today. When it comes to taking a tool as powerful as LinkedIn when you’re on the job hunt for a career in the tech world, they go hand in hand together. With such a large presence of tech jobs and the coding community leaning into networking websites for conversations and job opportunities, LinkedIn has always been my go-to platform to use when assisting the talented new graduates of devCodeCamp’s online coding bootcamp. There’s a reason why I see alumni get opportunities much faster who take advantage of such a modern-day asset to the job hunt. The results are there to get. The question then becomes – How prepared are you for them?