If you’re a job-searching collegiette living in the 21st century, odds are you have a LinkedIn account. With a customizable profile, newsfeed and connections, it’s the perfect online tool to help you get a job. There’s only one problem: You have no idea how to use it.
Having a LinkedIn account is one thing, but actually knowing what to do with it is a whole different story. You have the basics down, but there are so many other great tools you could be using! Searching for a job or internship is stressful as it is, so why not make it easy on yourself and use LinkedIn to its full potential? Read on to find out what tools the experts recommend, and you’ll be a LinkedIn pro in no time!
1. Jobs tab and detailed job search
One of the main reasons we join LinkedIn is to find an internship while we’re undergrads or jobs once we’re ready to enter “the real world.” To accommodate this, LinkedIn made searching for open positions as painless as possible. The “Jobs” tab (one of the five main tabs across the top) is designed to organize current job listings based on your preferences so you can explore all your different options. According to career coach Donna Schilder, “[The jobs tab] is like CareerBuilder.com or Monster.com … companies pay money to list their openings. [You can] narrow your search by location industry or job function.”
When you first click on the Jobs tab, you can customize your job search by indicating where you’re looking for openings (domestically or internationally), preferred company size and industry. Then, every time you open your jobs tab, new openings from different companies that fit your preferences will pop up. You can click on the company to learn more about the position, save jobs or even review applications you’ve submitted.
Located in the right corner of the Jobs tab is the “advanced search” dropdown. There, you can further narrow your search by entering your zip code or indicating more specific industries.
“Also, use the ‘discover jobs in your network’ [option] to look through job openings at companies that your connections work for,” Schilder suggests. This is good because if you know someone who works at that company, he or she can put in a good word for you.
Once you get to the results of your initial search, you can click “save search” in the upper-right-hand corner and receive email alerts about postings similar to your search. You can also indicate if you want to get them daily, monthly or weekly. According to Amanda Healy, social media expert and personal branding blogger, by receiving these email updates, you can stay informed about the job market and ultimately discover opportunities you might be interested in.
One of the most intimidating parts of the internship or job search is simply finding opportunities! Fortunately, LinkedIn gives you tons of options so you can find the best fit for your interests.
2. LinkedIn Pulse
LinkedIn Pulse is a mobile app as well as a new feature on the LinkedIn website. Basically it’s an integrated news feed that keeps you up to date on news relevant to your interests or desired field(s). “You can follow thought leaders, news channels and publishers,” Schilder says. “A user is able to select up to 60 newsfeeds to follow. So LinkedIn Pulse gives the user customized news based on their selections.”
Located on the homepage, you can click on the Pulse newsfeed and review the recommendations to follow or search for specific people or organizations. “Many people use LinkedIn Pulse to follow their industries,” Schilder explains. “For example, a social media analyst might follow a social media influencer like Reid Hoffman or a publisher like Mashable.”
According to the experts, students should spend the time reading Pulse because there are a ton of benefits of staying informed. “[Students] can review [LinkedIn Pulse] before meeting someone they want to engage in meaningful conversation,” says Rita Friedman, job and career transition coach. Not only can you learn more about your desired industry, you can also feel confident in an interview because you know the latest news in your field.
Besides standing out in an interview, you can also start conversations about important topics on LinkedIn itself. “Pulse tailors news and articles based on your professional interests,” Healy explains. “Then you can share these [on LinkedIn] or Tweet them and it helps you [start a conversation]. It makes you look good professionally.”
Your connections can see your shared articles on their news feed with the option to comment or “like” your post, which can help start those online conversations.
LinkedIn groups are great places to connect with other professionals in your field. Groups are basically a small subset of LinkedIn where users with similar interests can connect and communicate. In groups you can post questions, interact with other users, view job listings and learn from experts in your industry.
If you hover over the “Interests” tab, you can find the groups page. There you can search for specific groups or view recommendations based on your interests.
“Join as many groups as possible because it will increase the number of LinkedIn searches you appear in,” which is helpful when recruiters are looking for possible interns or employees, Schilder says.
There are different types of groups you can join to make it easier for potential employers to find you. Besides the Job Search tool, groups are another way to access job or internship postings. “Join LinkedIn Groups that are designated as ‘Job Search Groups,’” Schilder says. “You can signal that you are looking for a job [that way]. Be sure to join the regional and industry subgroups to this group as well.”
Beyond using groups to search for jobs, you can also join them to add more connections to your network. Universities, organizations and companies usually have groups, so try searching by your school or an organization you’re interested in. Then join the conversation by posting or commenting about something you found relevant to your field and/or group or anything you find interesting. It’s a good way to expand that professional network!
4. Customizing your URL
So you’ve filled in all your experience, education and summary on your profile. All set, right? Not quite. A little extra effort on your profile could make a huge difference in your marketability.
“[Your profile] should be the number-one hit when someone Googles your name,” Healy says. “It’s essentially your professional brand, face to the world and first impression. Today, your first impression is a digital one.”
One way to customize your profile is changing its URL. Instead of just random numbers at the end of the link, change it to your name. “As long as your name is available, change it to that!” Healy suggests. “Brand it with your name; it makes you more memorable.”
If you’re in the edit mode on your profile, an “Edit” link appears by your profile’s URL underneath your profile picture. Click that and an option appears to edit your public profile, where you can edit your public profile URL. It seems insignificant compared to the experience or education sections of your profile, but this small fix can help make your profile more memorable.
5. Alumni search tool
A great way to expand your professional network is to connect with alumni from your school. After all, you already have something in common to bond over!
“Alumni LOVE [other] alumni!” Healy says. “You share a similar experience, and they can relate to you. They’re compelled to help you succeed.” With LinkedIn Alumni Search tool, it’s easy to find and connect with people who could help you with your future career.
You can find alumni under the “Connections” tab. There you can narrow down alumni by where they’re currently working, their position or even what they studied as an undergrad.
“It’s a nice way to see where people with similar backgrounds have gone,” Friedman says. “Or, if you have a company in mind that you would love to work for, the Alumni tool can help you find current employees there [who] can give you some insight into the [hiring process] or even pass your name along to a hiring manager.”
If you do find alumni through this search, connect with them and shoot them a short message through the messaging feature. You can tell them that you found them through this search tool and ask if they’ll answer some questions for you. Ask them what they like about their current positions, what they did right after they graduated or advice they have for you about the job search. They’ll probably be more than willing to help you out, maybe by giving you some insight to their companies’ culture or even forwarding your resume to the hiring manager at their companies!
LinkedIn is a great website to start your professional career. Besides expanding your digital network, you can explore your interests, become more informed about your field and apply to positions you may not have discovered otherwise. Use these five tools to become LinkedIn savvy, and HC knows you’ll rock the job or internship search!