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Career Column: How to Use LinkedIn to Land a New Job

Everyone has Facebook. The social butterflies have Twitter, and the selfie-takers have Instagram and SnapChat. There's a social media network for just about everyone, and that includes professionals. We're talking about LinkedIn: What started basically as a way to network and get your resume out there has turned into a viable job-searching platform.

Just like with your resume, you should never feel content just because you have a professional-looking LinkedIn profile. It's not enough, not if you want to snag your dream job. Waiting for recruiters to get in touch with you means you'll be waiting for an opportunity that likely won't ever come.

Instead, you need to be more in control and more proactive. Today, we'll go over tips and tricks you can employ to catch the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers, and get those job interviews you have been waiting for.

Warning: Before starting the job hunt, ensure that your profile looks perfect. First impressions matter greatly, especially in today's highly competitive job market, where there are potentially hundreds of people vying for an open position.

What Constitutes a Perfect LinkedIn Profile?

A perfect LinkedIn profile should contain a professional picture and headline, a summary of your experience, skills, and qualifications, a link to your website or blog and recommendations from people working in the industry in which you are looking for a job. Don't forget to list any volunteer work you do.

If you find yourself stuck on how to make yourself look more marketable, consider hiring an expert LinkedIn profile writer to do the job for you.

Build a List of Potential Employers

Start by visiting LinkedIn. Scroll over the "Interests" menu and click on "Companies." To search, choose the middle tab. Then pick the location, the industry (or industries) and the company size you are interested in. After that, play with the remaining filters to further narrow down your list to 10 or fewer potential employers.

Using this search-and-filter technique will help you discover a number of companies you may never have heard of before. Your dream job doesn't necessarily sit in the bowels of a giant corporate machine. LinkedIn is actually a very handy way to get in touch with companies, and one most job-hunters are not looking at, which gives you a much-needed leg up.

Understand the Employers' Needs

Now that you've identified prospective companies you'd like to work for, you should send out informational interview requests. To prepare for that, you need to research and find out what challenges those companies are facing at the moment. This will make it easier for you to ask smart and intelligent questions and to position yourself as the solution to their problems.

Use the company pages on LinkedIn to find out more about the companies you've chosen. Learn about the products and services they sell, read industry-related articles and blog posts and join industry-specific groups on LinkedIn. This will tune you into what people have been talking about.

By showing that you already know about the company, the industry, and the products, you will be better placed to ask smart questions and show employers that you want to work for their company, not just to find a job anywhere that will take you.

Arrange Informational Interviews

You should never skip this step when using LinkedIn to land a new job. One great tool for finding excellent informational interview sources is your college alumni. You already have a connection, one that many people feel strongly about. Use the Alumni Search Tool on LinkedIn to identify 3 to 5 potential alums working at the company or in the industry you are targeting. Then, request informational interviews from any or all of these non-decision makers.

When your profile is well written and properly targeted, these information sources will be more likely to be interested in you and take you seriously. If you play your cards right, they may agree to meet with you.

If they don't want to meet, don't sweat it.

Reach Out to the Decision Makers

Now that you have some information about the companies you want to work for (and potentially a few leads), go back to your list of target companies in the first step and conduct an "Advance People Search" to locate the decision makers.

On the LinkedIn homepage, click "Advanced," just next to the top search bar. Enter one company name from your target list. Then, enter the job title of a top-level decision maker who may be in a position to hire you (like a manager or VP). Find 2 to 3 possible contacts, scroll through their profiles and join some of their groups before you inMail them.

Go for offline meetings right away and never assume that you are an automatic good fit. Your inquiry should be tailored to check whether you are a good fit in the company and whether they have any openings now or in the future.

As you write your inMail, show these decision makers that you've researched the company and that you will not be wasting their time if they agree to meet with you. If your profile is relevant, then you are likely to receive a positive response.

Using the above strategies, you should be able to procure a few responses from potential employers. Once the ball starts rolling, you're in a great position to convince them to hire you.

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