Do I need to be on LinkedIn?

Publication date: 
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Question: 

I’ll be honest — I really dislike the idea of LinkedIn but everyone says that I need to be on it in order to increase my chances of finding work. I keep getting invited too — why does this continue to happen?! What’s your take on LinkedIn, and if I have to do it, how do I get started?

Julia

Answer: 

I understand, trust me. I joined LinkedIn, like most of us, after being bombarded by invitations from people who succumbed to LinkedIn or joined by accident. If you refuse to link yourself in, eventually you’ll get another invite. The pressure is intense. And then, once you join, it seems there is some kind of evil automatic invitation generator that digs into your contacts list and sends out invitations on your behalf. As a result the whole world — except for a few brave, unwavering souls, like you — is now on LinkedIn. So that’s how those invitations keep happening. Having resisted LinkedIn you’re rare, like a panda, but everyone wants you to come over and join the zoo.

The good news is you don’t ever have to join!

The bad news is that if you’re looking for work, LinkedIn is a necessary evil as it can bring you one step closer to finding it (work). I can tell you that my manager here at poss.ca looks at LinkedIn when hiring — he not only looks at the profile but also at the associations and the LinkedIn groups listed and the recommendations. In his case, LinkedIn serves as one extra voucher for the qualifications of the potential employee, sort of a backup resumé.

There are many examples of people getting scouted for work via LinkedIn too. Personally, I’ve gotten at least five or six invitations to do some freelance projects and one job offer. Recently, a friend of mine who applied for a job via a marketing job board was given the option of sending her resumé as an email attachment or providing a link to her LinkedIn profile. She still had to include an introductory cover letter as part of her application but she went with the LinkedIn profile over a resumé. She said it described better what she was all about. Another advantage is that with LinkedIn you can provide instant references via those recommendations. I don’t know if providing a link to LinkedIn is the way applying for jobs will go — too early to tell — but it’s certainly evidence that LinkedIn is becoming a powerful employment tool.

So, having said all that, how do you get started? First of all, you might want to accept one of those invitations you keep getting. That way you’ve made your first contact (whoever invited you), which is sort of a voucher — you know, the person inviting you is like the cool guy taking you to a party and people who might not know you will associate you with him simply because you showed up together. The hope is that this cool guy is actually cool and that his patronage is advantageous to your cause — this is why it might be wise to accept an invite from someone you respect and know, or you could even ask someone you respect and know to invite you.

At the same time, you don’t need to get invited to join — you might simply sign up for an account and once you do, LinkedIn will suggest people that you might already know and that have LinkedIn profiles already.

Once you’re on LinkedIn, you’ll need to set up a profile. Like your resumé, your profile should be absolutely smashing. We talk about how to do this in our article You Too Can Stand Out on LinkedIn: 12 Tips to Maximize Your Presence. In the article we give all kinds of LinkedIn tips, for example, what sort of picture you’d need to make your profile look professional, how to attract people to connect with you, how to summarize your profile to maximize your chances of attracting employers, what groups to join, how to get recommendations … Naturally, we also talk about being diligent about spelling and sentence structure and we mention that consistency is important too — just as it is with your old-school resumé.

Oh, before you get started, one final word on accepting invitations. You will probably get invites from people you don’t know once you’re all linked in. The neat thing about LinkedIn is that you can simply click on the person’s name to go to their profile and see if he or she is legitimate. You’ll probably want to look at the person’s connections and recommendations as well and click on any links they list. An additional step would be to Google the person’s name. And even after you do all this, you still might want to send a message back to the inviter asking why they would like to connect with you. As with any other new relationship, use caution and remember — you can always disconnect if there’s any doubt. Good luck in linking in!

Jowita

Comments

I've found that LinkedIn generates very few leads of any substance in my current job search, and while it wouldn't surprise me that it is a useful resource for a potential manager to dig into an applicant a bit, my name is so common that I've actually been told that it wasn't possible to find me on the service simply due to the number of 'Chris White's' that came up in searches. While it may be a necessary evil, it's something that at best you set up nicely once, and can mostly leave dormant. Or just not bother with if you're someone like myself and will not be found easily on it.

they are all the same, linkedln, i don't trust them waisting time

I'm not sure I understand the objection to LinkedIn at all... it is a ready media to interact - in this ever-increasing competition, why would you not want to connected via every possible source?

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Poss.ca is a free online magazine to help Toronto job seekers find work. An initiative of Findhelp Information Services, poss.ca is an Employment Ontario project funded in part by the Government of Canada.

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