Last week a friend told me about a job she’s filling and asked if I had any candidates to recommend. It’s a senior job that will pay in the good six-figures, with budget and people authority. It’s with an organization with a mission, and it’s often in the news.
Immediately, I thought of a perfect candidate and told my friend that I’d send over the candidate’s LinkedIn profile so she could get a sense of the person and see if there appeared to be a match.
Now, wait a minute. I didn’t say I’d send over a resume, did I? No, I said I’d send a LinkedIn profile. Because contacting the candidate and getting her resume might take days. Maybe even a week if her resume isn’t current and updated. LinkedIn is quick, and quiet.
This is the new way of the world.
But here’s what happened when I went to LinkedIn and searched for the candidate I wanted to recommend:
- She had two profiles listed under her name – one was clearly started and abandoned because it had zero information
- The second profile had one job listed (the one she had the job before last) and no contact info
So, obviously, I couldn’t quietly send my friend anything that would allow her to determine whether to take my candidate to the next level.
Some of you are no doubt wondering about this.
Wondering what the big deal is with LinkedIn. Is it the same as Facebook? Or Twitter? Some of you feel overwhelmed just reading the words “Facebook” and “Twitter”, and adding “LinkedIn” to the conversation makes you a little sweaty and slightly nauseous.
OK. But here’s the deal. LinkedIn has emerged as the single most important thing you can do to support your career.
Back in 2008 more than the stock market and housing prices shifted – work also changed, dramatically. Today, anyone can be fired at any time. Organizations – businesses, non-profits, governments both state and local – cut back and shed employees. To be truly successful right now all of us need to be in permanent job search mode.
And LinkedIn gives you a place to effectively showcase your resume, skills, capabilities and network in a way that’s totally appreciated and understood by the community.
Because everyone else on LinkedIn is doing the same thing.
Now, some people tell me that they don’t want to have a LinkedIn profile because then everyone in the office will know they are “looking” and that would be … bad.
[Of course, if you work in such a punitive office then you really, really need a great LinkedIn presence. Just sayin'.]
But your boss can relax. Tons of opportunities come via LinkedIn – not just new jobs. With the specialized groups on the network, you might learn about conferences or workshops you might not otherwise have heard about. You might get asked to speak on a panel, or write an article which raises the profile of the organization. You might make alliances that generate business for your employer.
Lots of good stuff.
But none of it happens if you have an incomplete or rudimentary profile.
Here’s your task: Get on there, and paste in your bio or write one up. List your professional work history, and note any certifications you have. List your colleges. Get a few people to write recommendations for you. Write a few for other people. Have a good picture of yourself taken (remind me to tell you the story of the guy whose LinkedIn photo was of him with a bucket hat and a beer – he changed his picture to something more professional and spruced up his bio… and was hired within a week. Again, just sayin’.).
And connect with people.
Upload your contacts – LinkedIn doesn’t save the data, so it’s OK – and send requests to people you know and have worked with in the past. Accept requests from people you know and meet at professional networking events. Work toward having around 100 connections at the minimum, because when people search you they will often look to see who you know in common. It’s a good way to create rapport and connection. And to demonstrate your influence.
Someone is reading this right now and saying, “I don’t have any influence and the whole thing feels like an invasion of privacy. I don’t want anyone searching me!”
And I feel you, pal. You’re probably still mourning the loss of the buggy whip manufacturing industry, too.
Times have changed. The way of doing business has changed, too. A recruiter recently told me that if a candidate has no LinkedIn profile, then he or she simply does not exist. Because LinkedIn is a vital tool for people who are trying to fill jobs.
Tell you what – let’s make it easy for you. Just put up your profile and get those 100 connections. Then you can stop, and do nothing more.
Nothing, but watch the opportunity open up. Open up really wide.
[my LinkedIn profile: Michele Woodward]