LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site, with over 433 million members (as of May 2016) and growing. It is the site that employers and HR professionals use most when searching for candidates. You can use it to network and connect with other professionals, join and participate in groups, ask and answer questions, research company information, and connect with alumni. The free basic version is all you need.
To access the site, go to www.linkedin.com and create your account (creating an account simply means that you provide your e-mail, a user name, and a password – creating your profile is a different step). LinkedIn provides easy-to-follow information about how to get started, how to create your professional profile, how to connect with friends and colleagues, and how to explore opportunities. For more information on how to do this, watch the “LinkedIn – Develop Your Online Brand” career workshop.
A few basic tips to get you started:
- Create your profile and aim for 100% completion. That maximizes your chances of showing up in a hiring manager or HR professional’s search.
- It is a good idea to summarize your work experience, but also take the opportunity to let your personality show, and say something about yourself that may not come across on your resume.
- Use keywords and industry language that relates to your field of interest. If you are not sure what these might be, read job descriptions and other professionals' profiles to get ideas.
- Connect to everyone you know, including friends, family, and previous co-workers, to expand your network. (In order to connect with people, you send them an “invitation to connect” message through the LinkedIn system).
Search for companies that interest you and industry groups, as well as job seeker groups, local networking groups, alumni groups, and groups for your skill sets and interests. For example, you can join the ALA (American Library Association) and the LIS Career Options groups, and follow SLA's (Special Library Association) page.
Use these connections:
- Watch for indirect connections you have to anyone in the companies and groups you find, or try connecting with people indicated as new hires, as they may be willing to share their experiences with you. After you have made a connection at a conference, for example, find them on LinkedIn and send a request to connect.
- Participate frequently in group discussions to provide valuable commentary and your opinions.
- Always be professional and appropriate in your correspondence and communication online.
- Ask questions in the group discussions, or become an expert at answering questions in a topic relevant to your profession and skills.
- Keep an eye on job listings within groups.