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How to Make the Most of LinkedIn

By Daniel Vahab, Lisa Chau

August 27, 2012 RSS Feed Print

According to the latest figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has been consistent throughout 2012 at 8.3 percent, with the number of unemployed people at 12.8 million. Yet there are only 3.8 million reported job openings, meaning that roughly one third of the unemployed have a chance at getting a job.

While some may argue that we are out of the recession, today’s job hunters are not out of the rough. They need any competitive edge they can get—and sometimes that edge is simply making a few key social media moves.

What does it take to land that great job?

LinkedIn, the largest professional online network, plays a vital role in today’s job search. Use it strategically, say a few high-level recruiters and thought-leaders, and it can work wonders for your career.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Your LinkedIn Profile

It’s not enough to just be on LinkedIn, you have to be actively engaged. That said, there are some dos and don’ts to consider. “People have to remember that it’s not Facebook, it’s not Twitter: it’s a professional brand,” said Hunter Gilmore, head of The Hunting Lodge, an advertising recruiting company. “We’re all leaving this digital chain and it’s really hard to erase those things and they are easily searchable.”

When considering what to post to your LinkedIn profile, “post something if you just closed a big contract or were honored and gained some new account. It’s a little about self-promotion,” said Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, LLC, and “Top Recommended” on LinkedIn. “Don’t post that you are reading 50 Shades of Gray. Instead, mention a book that is relevant to personal growth” or your field of expertise or industry.

[Networking, Social Media, and the Six Degrees of Separation]

Making Connections

Since LinkedIn is a network, connecting is vital. It is “just like regular networking, you need to build relationships,” said Davidson. “You have to have that conversation, build that trust with people.”

But how do you first get that connection? “Do enough research so that you have the path to an interesting conversation, or are at least able to show you’re interested in them as an individual (rather than simply collecting acquaintances),” said Dorie Clark, head of Clark Strategic Communications and author of the forthcoming Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future.

And when you do choose to connect with someone, consider adding a personal note to the invitation request, said Gilmore. Let them know you’re an actual person interested in what they have to say. “If you’re requesting an introduction to someone through a mutual friend, be sure to explain why you want to connect—and why that connection will benefit the other party,” said Clark.

If you come across someone out of your network whose name is only displayed as “LinkedIn Member,” try using Google search to find the person. Type “LinkedIn” along with the unique features found in the person’s profile into a Google search and their full profile might appear. For example, if you’re trying to find the hiring manager for company X and you know from their profile they attended University of Wisconsin, search “LinkedIn hiring manager at company X University of Wisconsin,” and they may appear. The reason this works is because topline profile information appears in Google’s search results and there are no connection restrictions.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Is a College Degree Still Worth It?]

Recommendations

LinkedIn recommendations publicly showcase your references and talents before a hiring manager even asks for them, making them an important asset.

“Whenever someone E-mails you with a compliment about work you’ve done, ask them if they’d be willing to paste that note into LinkedIn” said Clark. “It won’t take more than two minutes of their time, because they’ve already written it, but it will make the accolades public and lasting.”

However, make sure that you actually deserve a good recommendation. For recent college grads “without any real job experience, ask your professors or those who you did internships for,” said Davidson. For instance, ask your college professor for a recommendation if you did well in their class, but steer clear of the professor whose class you rarely attended.

Groups

Groups provide you with an opportunity to meet new people within your industry and with whom you have common interests.

[LinkedIn and Other Social Media an Essential Tool for Job Seekers]

Join groups that will benefit you. For example, if you’re a professional woman who works in social media, you might consider joining The Women’s Network and Social Media Today. Both groups allow you to connect in different and valuable ways while widening your potential connections. Groups allow you to connect with people regardless of their network. Davidson recommends joining several groups within your industry and one group “just to be social.”

LinkedIn Premium

Finally, you might consider signing up for a LinkedIn Premium account. It comes at a cost, but a free trial is available.

The LinkedIn Premium account offers members a Job Seeker badge that allows you to broadcast that you are looking for a job. With this badge, anyone—even those outside your network—can see your profile and you can see everyone who has viewed your profile. Users who do not wish to broadcast can receive a Premium badge with the same added benefits.

[See the 10 best cities to find a job.]

Other key benefits within this account type include: free monthly InMails, allowing you to message any user on LinkedIn, regardless of whether you are connected; Advanced search features, letting you zone in on hiring managers and other key decision-makers; Open Link Network, permitting anyone to message you without an introduction or InMail. And most importantly, every time you apply for a job on LinkedIn your profile will be featured at the top of the applicant list.

Good luck!

 

Why Are LinkedIn’s ‘Influencers’ Mostly Men?

Posted: 08/27/2013 5:28 pm

Just the other night, my girlfriend Amanda and I were working on our Macbooks beside each other when she received a pop up on Linkedin. It recommended she follow some “influencers,” a list of people who might be influential to her.

Turns out, all but one of the LinkedIn influencers recommended to her were men. And her one influencer that is a woman — Martha Stewart — built her career around excelling in traditionally female realms, such as cooking and projects around the home.

Amanda is a professional woman who owns her own digital marketing company, ABM, so you would think Linkedin would have at least a few female role models in her industry worth recommending. Could it be that LinkedIn’s algorithm is off? Or is it that there are, indeed, less women influencers out there at such a disproportionate ratio? And what does this say about our society at a whole?

And it doesn’t appear to be just a coincidence. Three other professional women I contacted were all also stunned to learn that their LinkedIn influencers were mainly men. Dorie Clark, head of Clark Strategic Communications and author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press), said:

The LinkedIn ‘influencer’ concept deliberately tries to identify people at the top of their industry — and as we know, women unfortunately still lack power at the highest echelons… Silicon Valley, in particular, is still disproportionately male (thanks to the longstanding pattern of male engineers founding companies and then cycling through to become angel investors and VCs), and many LinkedIn influencers are drawn from this realm.

She noted a July 2013 Catalyst report that found only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 4.6 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions are women.

“Without further information from LinkedIn,” she added, “it’s hard to know how they’re selecting the influencers and whether they’re making a particular effort at recruiting diverse voices.”

According to a representative at LinkedIn, the social network recommends Influencers from an algorithm that includes a user’s LinkedIn “insights” as well as profile information and they are constantly seeking to diversify their leaders from “regions, sectors, and cultures who are impacting and driving business conversations from around the world.” Some notable female influencers include Meg Whitman, Maria Shriver and Senator Elisabeth Warren, to name a few.

And while it’s great to know that LinkedIn is seeking to diversify their influencers, this doesn’t change the fact that from the professional women I consulted they all — thus far — had predominantly male influencers recommended to them.

Still, Dorie acknowledged that this highly disproportionate number of male influencers are most likely a reflection of society as a whole rather than LinkedIn itself.

Despite the great progress women have made in leadership roles over the years, “there is still a glass ceiling,” says Shari Davidson, president of legal recruiting firm On Balance Search Consultants, LLC, and “Top Recommended” on LinkedIn.

It is very hard to take care of the family, home and be excellent at work. I recruit attorneys. Many of the partners in large firms are still men. Women who need to be home for the kids, take care of the mundane home projects (diner, food shopping, finances, etc.) are not billing 2000+ hours a year in a firm.

But she added that she’s seen changes in the workplace, noting that many firms now provide child care for instance.

Lisa Chau, a former co-author of mine and a consultant with Alpha Vert Enterprises, recalls finding out that her LinkedIn influencers were dominated by white men as well. She says:

The corporate landscape in America has historically been dominated by Caucasian men. This is what I know. This is what I assimilated into, and somehow, this is what I am comfortable with. When I say comfortable, I don’t mean it should be this way — I mean this is what I have come to expect, so I adapt accordingly and unconsciously.

But Lisa adds that her minority ethnicity and gender in the workplace doesn’t “faze” her, as she managed to excel in her careers.

Still, she acknowledges that we need more female and minority representation in leadership roles to help bridge the gap.

Indeed, in a recent article written by Barnard College President Debora L. Spar entitled, “Why the Woman Who ‘Has It All’ Doesn’t Really Exist,” she notes that despite progress made over the years, it has only become harder for women to juggle a work-life balance to climb up the corporate ladder. Their lives have simply become more complicated and involved.

This post has been updated to reflect LinkedIn’s response to blogger Daniel Vahab (about their influencer algorithm)