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This week, fourth in a six-part series, business coach Kate Kerr (nee Hanley) explains the importance of using LinkedIn to step up your job search or job upgrade your process.

We’ve talked about the key role of networking in the job search. Now let’s talk about how LinkedIn works.

I am a big fan of LinkedIn. The site has become one of the major recruiting tools for businesses of all sizes. It’s the main virtual networking site out there at the moment.

Most recruiters I know and work with are constantly combing LinkedIn and checking out profiles to identify candidates for various positions within their companies. It is key that every job seeker has a well-rounded professional profile posted that has as much complete information as possible about their skillset. It is also important to note that the more information about their work experience that job seekers provide on their profile, the greater their chances of getting noticed by recruiters.

What are the “must haves” for a LinkedIn profile?

For one, detailed information about your professional background is a must. And it has to be free of errors. Have someone review your profile for edits before you post. It also needs a strong headline that contains key words for your industry. And it should have a clear, recent (i.e., in the past year) professional head shot.

Anything else that’s good to include on your profile?

Detailed recommendations from past supervisors are very powerful. They’re a soft reference that recruiters use to pick up on a little bit about your work style and past performance. When I have had to hire staff in the past, I sought out recommendations on a LinkedIn profile as one of the first items to scan.

And what’s next after you have your profiles complete?

It’s important that job seekers are proactive on LinkedIn – just as they would be with a traditional job search. Being active on the site will make you stand out from the crowd and will trigger recruiters to notice you. Mark in your calendar a couple times a month to share industry-specific information. It could be as simple as posting an article about something in your field of work. By generating this type of activity on your profile, recruiters see that you’re actively engaged and aware of your professional surroundings. In addition, you’re sharing knowledge with your colleagues – another good professional trait that recruiters notice.

Any other tips to note that can separate someone from the rest of the LinkedIn crowd?

I always encourage job seekers to do virtual networking on LinkedIn by joining several groups that represent their industry. This is a great way to keep up with news in your field and get to see who’s posting, so you can connect with the other active people on LinkedIn (some of who may even have openings in their companies).

What additional advice would you give someone who’s hesitant to get on LinkedIn?

Long gone are the days of sending in your résumé and hoping that someone will contact you. We live in a proactive world, and a little bit of initiative on LinkedIn could possibly connect you to the key folks who may assist in landing your dream job. Take the little bit of time to get set up on and open the door to new possibilities for your career.

Kate Kerr can be reached at [email protected]

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jnojr May 10, 2013 @ 4:57 p.m.

I wish Linkedin had a nice binary operator: "I am currently looking for new opportunities: [Y/N]" I'm constantly binning invitations from headhunters and receiving job offers that have little to do with what I do, or are in places I would never work. But if I do happen to be looking at some point, there's no way to quickly and effectively communicate that, except to write it in my profile somewhere and hope that some of them can read.


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