Help me to springclean and use LinkedIn
May 5, 2017 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Looking for tips and suggestions on how to use LinkedIn to support job searches. I was an early adopter, but then my account subsequent existed in abandoned/unmaintained status for many years. I know there may be questions as to LinkedIn's overall approach, etc., but I am willing to work with what whatever they provide. What are some ways in which I can now start to use LinkedIn effectively? Thank you!
posted by life moves pretty fast to Work & Money (5 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of people hate on LinkedIn (for some good reasons), but I find it HUGELY useful for job searches and other networking-related tasks (e.g. I need a contact at a given company for some project I'm working on).

Here are the keys for me:
  1. Connect to everyone I work with or meet via true networking (e.g. at a conference, etc.). All my co-workers, bosses, cross-functional points of contact, etc.
  2. Avoid connecting with people I don't actually know. Basically, if I would have exchanged business cards with them in the old days, I will probably connect with them (this ain't facebook), but I get a lot of random requests from people I don't know, and I refuse all of those.
  3. Do my normal job search things of finding companies and jobs I'm interested in, researching them, etc.
  4. As I find ones I actually want to consider, use my LinkedIn network to find people I know who work at those companies, or who know someone who works at those companies, and get an intro for a casual conversation. This kind of "warm intro" is much more effective than just dropping an application into the void, and it gives you the opportunity to pre-screen the job and company before bothering.
Now, there are a few things here that make this effective for me, but not necessarily for everyone. First, I'm pretty senior in my industry, so I'm looking at fairly high-level jobs. It's probably easier to get someone to informally chat with a person considering a Director position than an entry level position. In a similar vein, my resume is strong and has a number of big name companies on it, so when people look at my experience, they want to talk to me. If I was new to the field, I would be missing that advantage.

And finally -- perhaps most importantly -- I'm quite well-connected in real life. My LinkedIn network reflects my real life network. It makes it easier for me to keep track of everyone, and to stay updated on their positions and contact info over the years. But it's not a fabrication. I'm able to have a large LinkedIn network because I meet a lot of people and build relationships with them. Because I have relationships with them, they answer when I send them an email about a job or something. I know that there are people who try to use LinkedIn to build a network of people from thin air. Maybe that works for some of them, but I'm highly skeptical. I view LinkedIn as a tool for managing the network I'd have anyway, not for creating one on its own.
posted by primethyme at 7:52 AM on May 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Ira and Linda Bass are local to my city (Charlotte, NC) and have developed a healthy business in LinkedIn consulting and workshops. Their blog may be useful.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:13 AM on May 5, 2017

I'm job-searching right now, and primethyme's advice is great, sespecially "I view LinkedIn as a tool for managing the network I'd have anyway, not for creating one on its own."

I tend to get a lot of unsolicited LinkedIn requests from people I don't know, so I ignore those. They have zero use to me.

I also went through and pruned my connections. I got rid of random classmates from college 10 years ago, people I met at a conference who I barely remember, random former coworker who I don't like and is second-degree to freaking everyone, etc. I wasn't super strict about it, but my litmus test was "if I was looking for a job and this person worked at a company I was interested in, or was second-degree to someone who did, do I know them well enough to reach out?" The reason I did this pruning is because I was getting a lot of false-positives for first and second degree connections when I was looking for jobs, through people who I would never reach out to.

Do keep in mind that if you reach out to someone about a second-degree connection, you can't be certain that they actually know the person well enough to help you. I will send a quick LinkedIn message saying "Hey $friend, I see you're connected to $yourfriend who works at $desirable company. I am applying for a job there, and I would love to talk to a current employee about the company. Is $yourfriend someone you'd be able to reach out to?". This language got me an informational interview with a friend-of-a-friend recently, which got me an interview for an interesting job.

If you don't have a photo, make sure to add one. It doesn't have to be a professional headshot, just something nice and friendly looking. Background photo is optional IMHO (I don't have one).

Make sure you add a personalized URL so your URL is instead of

Your "headline" at the top under your name can be your current position or a blurb about you. So it could say "Director of Sales at Acme" or "Results-Driven Sales Professional" or whatever.

Purely to build my "brand" (ha!), I periodically share industry-related articles on LinkedIn, because they show on your profile activity, and I want to look smart.

I think endorsements and recommendations are crap, FWIW.
posted by radioamy at 11:57 AM on May 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Does anyone have any opinion/advice on LinkedIn Premium?
posted by carter at 9:55 AM on May 8, 2017

Thank you all, very useful advice!
posted by life moves pretty fast at 4:20 AM on August 4, 2017

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