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How to Optimize Linkedin for Job Search

I was recently interviewed for an article, How to get the most out of LinkedIn, on MSN/Careerbuilder, that posted earlier this month.  The article is very well written, by Alina Dizik, and I highly recommend it to job seekers, or anyone else wanting to get the most from Linkedin.  Below I have posted her original questions, and my answers, in full, for your reading pleasure.  Enjoy.

- What should you have on your LinkedIn profile if you’re looking for opportunities? A candidate should tell a good story that describes who they are and what they do well.  You also need detailed job descriptions in your work history going back at least 10 years.  The more relevant detail and specific keywords that you include in your profile,, the easier it will be for recruiters and employers to find you when they search for appropriate candidates for their openings.

Is there anything with settings you should be careful of?  Be careful about including everything you post to Twitter on your Linkedin Profile.  If you are a Tweeter, it's a good idea to update your Linkedin profile with Tweets that showcase your knowledge or some content that relates to your skill set.   But too many people fall into the trap of posting all Tweets there.  That can sometimes be too much.

How can you use the "Who Viewed Your Profile" section to your advantage?  You should be wary of connecting with users "Who Viewed Your Profile" immediately.  It can be unsettling if someone who's profile you just viewed immediately requests to connect with you. Make a list of those people and connect with them the following week or find them on Twitter and connect there first.  

- What are some LinkedIn tools that you should be using?  Use the apps available on your profile page to import content into your page.  Apps that automatically import your blog posts, SlideShare presentations, etc. help your profile to rank higher in search results.  The idea is to get more eyeballs on your Linkedin profile.  Also update your status once or twice per day with something that would be interesting to your targeted employers or prospects.

What types of forums/groups/etc. should a person join?  Join groups that relate to your industry, skill set, or location.  All are good for networking for jobs.  Also do a search for people who might be in a position to hire or refer you for jobs and companies you are interested in.  Join and participate in the relevant groups they are in.  Then, after you have been a good contributor, perhaps go back and ask those people to join your network.

What types of people should you connect with (how many times do you need to work with someone to make them your LinkedIn contact)?  Linkedin recommends that you only connect with people who you know.  So definitely connect with as many people who you know that are Linkedin users as possible.  After all, any of your friends or colleagues might know someone who could be a great lead for you.  Beyond that, connect with people who appear to be active in the groups in which you are networking.

- Are there any mistakes or misconceptions about this method of job searching?  The top misconception is that if you just create a Linkedin profile, then you should get calls from employers or recruiters.  Not so.  You must optimize your profile with plenty of specific information that relates to your skill set; and participate in Linkedin groups, Q&A, and status updates.  You must also grow your network.  The more active you are, and the more people you connect with, the more people will see your profile.

- Is there anything else you’d like to add?  Make sure you give prospective employers an easy way to contact you.  If you have no email address or phone number listed, it might be tough for someone who is not a 1st level connection on Linkedin to contact you.  The whole idea is to be contacted. 

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