Not all jobs are advertised and this has been typically referred to as the "hidden job market." Career experts agree that a large percentage of job opportunities often are only accessible via regular networking.
Traditionally, building your professional network could only be done by meeting for lunch or coffee, cultivating relationships with client and partner companies, and maintaining memberships in professional organizations. These techniques still have their value. Today, however, there are new ways to achieve the goal of an extensive professional network, and LinkedIn is a great tool for establishing the contacts needed to gain access to these jobs.
According to Dave Taylor, a well known guru on the topic of social networking and online job searching, there are a few simple strategies to getting the most out of a LinkedIn job search.1
The most important part of the process is making sure that your LinkedIn profile is complete, up to date, and accurate. When you connect with your contacts, they should be able to see
Additionally, it is vital that you select the option that lets people know that you are open to career opportunities.
You probably already know dozens of people within your professional network who are already on LinkedIn, but these contacts canít help you if you donít connect with them.
According to Liz Ryan2, there are two great ways to start out:
Dave Taylor also recommends connecting with former bosses, employees, colleagues, and clients. In fact, you can import your address book for more contacts; simply upload a file from an email application like Outlook, Apple Mail, and others.
Remember, the bigger your network, the larger your second-degree network will be and this is critical because you can put a request through LinkedIn to have a current contact introduce you to one of their primary contacts. If you see someone who is a "friend of a friend" who works at a company you are interested in, donít simply add them: Ask your current contact if they will introduce you.
First and foremost: Avoid asking for a job first when you first make contact! The point of networking and building the relationship is—essentially—to encourage the person to ask you.
Debra Feldman at CIO.com recommends reaching out to a new contact at a target company to suggest an exchange of information3. When the time is right, express your interest in the company and your potential contributions. If the contact is not aware of any jobs available within his or her business unit, you might consider requesting an introduction to another person in the organization, preferably a decision maker / hiring manager. Additionally, some of these contacts may become personal or professional references, which can prove invaluable during the life of your career!
The more network contacts you have, the further ahead in the game you will be once a job does come available. Sourcing and selecting a candidate is expensive and time consuming and most companies are thrilled to be able to offer a job directly to a candidate they already know is qualified. LinkedIn offers an opportunity to get noticed when the time is right for a company that is actively hiring!
LinkedIn is also a great way of doing research on a company. Several experts in the field recommend conducting blind "reverse" reference checks and using other LinkedIn tools in order to gauge the health of the company, the overall satisfaction of former employees, or the long-term prospects within the organization.
Additionally, LinkedIn can be an excellent resource as you prepare for an interview. There is a wealth of information to be had about who does what or how the company works. This due diligence will go a long way toward boosting your confidence for your first meeting with the hiring team and it will allow you to better customize your responses during the interview process.
Finally, donít ignore the value of LinkedInís question / answer forums. Crossing multiple industries and a wealth of topics, this resource compiles responses from industry experts to questions posed by users like you. Whether you ask a question or simply peruse the forums for responses, you can get your job search off on the right track.