Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? When it comes to your career, this saying is completely spot on. Most people that I’ve met over the years will happily go out of their way to refer, or promote an individual that they think has done a job well done. I’ve also seen just as many willing to stick their neck out for someone who may only be your average bear. The point I’m making is obvious, the more connections you have in life, the more celebration parties you will throw.
Before Web 2.0, most people held their precious contacts in their very own rolodex. What seemed like a pretty clever system was blown away when Linkedin was founded in 2002. While Facebook and MySpace quickly built their popularity by targeting young adults and those on college campuses, Linkedin focused on the needs of those in the work place and hoped to connect every last one of them. So, how are the three popular networking sites different? Reid Hoffman, founder of Linkedin describes the differences between social networks by saying that Linkedin is the social media’s office, while Facebook is a barbeque, and MySpace is a bar. Facebook and Myspace do offer opportunities for connecting with other professionals, but Linkedin has proven to be the elite networking application, proven by the following facts. Linkedin has over 43 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world.A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second, and about half of our members are outside the U.S. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members.
- While the advantages of Linkedin are quick to point out, I find that far too many people still do not have an account, or simply do not know how to properly use the application to their advantage. Before I list my reasons why I feel Linkedin is absolutely crucial for today’s job seeker I’ll provide a quick story to explain just how powerful of a tool it can be. My sister graduated in May of 2008, with a degree in Fashion Merchandising from Philadelphia University. My sister worked throughout college at different designer stores at the King of Prussia Mall and was able to meet some influential people throughout college. Her GPA was high enough to warrant induction into the honors society for her area of study. She was very much so an above average student, but even with this and all of the connections she made, it proved tough to find a path to becoming a buyer. The fashion industry is not easy to break into, and unless you know somebody you can almost count on being in retail at the mall or your entire life. When I realized the situation my sister was in, I offerd my help and ran a quick search for “buyers” who were in my network on Linkedin. Within a few days, my sister was talking on the phone with a buyer who worked for the very popular company, Urban Outfitters. One of my contacts on Linkedin had this person in their network, so they quickly set up an “online introduction” and then it wasn’t long before she and my sister were discussing career paths, company benefits, the down falls of the company, and how to be a successful buyer. My sister was sold.
If that didn’t completely sell you, here are 4 reasons why every job seeker absolutely needs Linkedin:
- Connections – The importance of making connections when trying to land your dream job can not be overstated. Most companies today offer a nice referral bonus to employees who refer a candidate that successfully passes all pre-employment screening. Getting your name out to everyone you’ve met (seriously everyone), will only result in a higher referral percentage. Through my experience, I’ve seen that companies love to hire through referrals. When a trusted/respected employee submits a candidate through to Human Resources, there is an odd sense of confidence in that this candidate will perform along the same level of the employee. Companies absolutely love referrals.
- Resources - Linkedin allows you to customize your very own profile. It’s a fun way to showcase your skills, and the application is easy to use. It’s also easy for prospective employers to read through your information quickly before they ask for a more in depth resume to review. Linkedin also offers job hunters a massive load of articles and blogs on topics such as how to create a persuasive cover letter, how to make your resume stand out, different interview techniques, and much more.
- Online Recommendations – Through your career you may have done some pretty neat things, and impressed many people along the way. Unfortunately, those people are not allowed to highlight your resume on an interview, that’s your job. Linkedin offers a very powerful feature allowing those people you’ve impacted to write an online recommendation of your work, which sits on your profile for everyone to read. Whether its just a quick comment ‘patting you on the back’, or a full paragraph or two explaining the positive impact your work had, this sets you apart from others and PROVES your worth to an employer. Employers love proof, and this is one step to proving you’re the real deal.
- Job Listings – Linkedin features an easy to use job search tool. Like most online job search websites, you can search by location, job title, date of availability, company, as well as many other options. Applying for a job on Linkedin will send your profile, resume, and your recommendations right to the desk of the recruiter, HR contact, or hiring manager.
Herb Brooks was famous for saying, “great moments are born from great opportunity.” With every connection you make in life, its one more chance you’ll come across an opportunity you can’t refuse. Building your Linkedin profile will open many doors through connections, allowing every opportunity for your own great moment or quite possibly that dream job you’ve been hoping for.