409,000 people filed unemployment claims this past week, a number that is down from last week, but still daunting (and does not include those that are unemployed and are no longer eligible to file). If you are in the process of looking for a job, are you doing everything to separate yourself from the pack?
Imagine your dream job’s HR manager sorting through the top resumes hoping to boil down to a solid 10 candidates for interviewing. If he or she is like many current HR managers, they probably decide to supplement their research by viewing LinkedIn profiles as a tool to learn more about the applicants…
Impressive profile and recommendations? They’re a yes.
What, no LinkedIn account!? Well…lets make them a maybe.
The scenario is not extreme. According to a recent survey, 86.6% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to narrow down applicants or to further research candidates before making a job offer. At this point, it is beyond a growing phenomenon; it is now a fully grown phenomenon, and transforming your profile into an “online resume” that sells your skills and accomplishments to a prospective employer is extremely necessary.
LinkedIn took almost a year and a half to reach one million members when it first launched 8 years ago; but their last million took only 12 days, and the reason is because it works. One case study refers to using LinkedIn as “putting your job search on steroids.” In truth, the professional job market is almost at a point where it’s considered taboo for an applicant not to have a LinkedIn profile. Employers are typically unwilling to hire someone that is “behind the times” or that is not taking your job-hunt seriously. So how do you make sure it’s done the right way? There are dozens of articles (this is one of my favorites) and even a “Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies” book dedicated to the subject.
A LinkedIn profile is almost considered the “pre-interview” to see if you even get offered an interview because employers are finally catching on to what consumers have been doing online for years. Before large purchases or deciding on the nicest restaurant, we judge their website, search Google, and browse reviews on UrbanSpoon and Yelp. It works both ways now because companies want to ensure their time and money isn’t wasted on interviewing and hiring the wrong candidate. Everything on an applicants profile is open to interpretation by a hiring manager. If there are inconsistencies in past experience, or typos and grammatical errors, no strong recommendations from connections, or if the profile photo is unprofessional, the applicant may be disregarded.
But before you start hating on how social media has made it easier for hiring managers to ignore qualified applicants just because of a simple online profile, consider taking a little bit of extra time to create an account or make your existing profile stand out for these reasons:
- LinkedIn is a great way to clarify and supplement a resume and cover letter with any extra supporting information not covered in those documents. For example, your college volunteer work may have not been relevant when submitting your resume, but some hiring managers would consider that a desirable characteristic of prospective employees.
- Many professionals have careers involving creative or technological aspects, and samples that can’t be included on a regular resume or application can be linked to or described in your profile.
- Those dreaded “letters of recommendation.” LinkedIn makes it so simple to request recommendations from your connections, and you better bet that prospective employers are looking at these.
And the best part is that LinkedIn is a two-way street. Applicants can research the company and its employees on LinkedIn just as much as the company can research the applicant. Find the right contact person, what background they have, their tenure, etc. Add them as a connection and send them a message. All of this can be potentially accomplished with a few minutes of research.
Long gone are the days when a job search required only a friendly referral or the Sunday Classifieds section and a highlighter. Finding the right career now takes networking, hours of searching online, and a little bit of extra time spent ensuring your resume and online profiles represent your best attributes. There are now dozens of resources to help your online job hunt, and learning how to utilize them properly can put you way ahead of the game.
409,000. Do what you can to avoid being one of them.
Sharon Bell holds a degree in Journalism and spent several years in corporate communications. She is now a graduate student and content manager for Make Me Social who spends her free time playing roller derby.