By Uri M. Overend-Allen, CPRW, MBTI Certified
The following article is part of the AARP Connecticut 50+ Job-Seeker Series, featuring posts by AARP and local experts that are aimed at helping older workers take their job-hunting and career skills to the next level.
I’ll admit it… I’m in love with LinkedIn. Never before has any single website taken so many important, helpful tools and resources for job seekers and put them all in one place. Besides being the number one place for professionals to get together and network, LinkedIn continually strives to evolve for the needs of its users and today boasts rich features and tools for job seekers from all walks of occupational life. For this blog posting, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite features of LinkedIn and give you some tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of them.
The groups feature is probably one of my favorite offerings of LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn groups as virtual gathering places for people to meet each other (network!) and get together to share ideas and information. LinkedIn offers over 1.5 million different groups so you’ll be able find a LinkedIn group that is right up your alley. Looking to build credibility and visibility in your field? Share industry advice and knowledge in relevant LinkedIn groups. Interested in discussing trends in your occupational field? Participate in group discussions and make connections with other industry peers. Trying to break into a new profession and need advice? Find a LinkedIn group for that occupation and start talking to people in the industry! The possibilities are endless!
A word of cautionary advice before we move on to the next feature…Remember, LinkedIn is a professional networking site and what you put on the internet is available for all to see. It would be in a job seekers best interest to avoid joining groups or discussions that could be construed as controversial. You never know what biases or experiences hiring managers have, so you want to avoid raising any potential red flags. When in doubt…leave it out!
Another great offering of LinkedIn is its recommendation feature. Recommendations provide the opportunity for others to validate and endorse the experience and information you provide on your LinkedIn profile. Think of them as mini letters of reference or reviews that substantiate and lend credibility to the quality of work that you performed. It is one thing to toot your own horn, but it’s so much more meaningful and impactful when others do it for you. The key to really getting the most out of the feature is to practice reciprocity. Are you a new user who would like to start receiving some recommendations? Start by giving some! Already received some? Hopefully you returned the favor. LinkedIn, when you get right down to it, is all about building, utilizing and maintaining our professional relationships and the recommendations feature is a great tool that facilitates that.
A word of advice here is to proofread every recommendation that you receive. Make sure that your recommendation is checked (and checked again!) for any grammar or spelling errors. You may also want to ask that your recommendation writer avoids mentioning any dates, length of time that they may have known you or any other information that may lead to potential age discrimination. Even though it is illegal to discriminate based on age it does happen, so try to avoid raising any red flags.
LinkedIn has a robust jobs feature and in my humble opinion, it’s one of the best features of the website. The jobs feature of the site brings together tools for company research, employment opportunity exploration and seamlessly integrates the networking aspect of the site, such as identifying which of your connections work at particular companies, all in one place.
Job seekers can search for employment opportunities by a variety of criteria including industry, company size and location. There is also an advanced search that allows for more targeted and in-depth searching. In addition, it also offers tools for job seekers to get organized with their job search by allowing users to save multiple job search criteria, save individual employment opportunities and even save and review applications that a user may have posted in response to a job listing.
Like I said at the beginning of this article…I love LinkedIn. They have done a superb job of keeping their finger on the proverbial pulse of job seekers and have strived (and in my opinion, succeeded) to provide a versatile, engaging platform for its users. I encourage every job seeker, no matter what their occupational goal, to join LinkedIn and start exploring.
See also: 9 Ways to Liven Up Your LinkedIn Profile
Uri Allen is a Career Development Specialist with the Connecticut Department of Labor’s New London office. She empowers job seekers to realize their career goals by teaching them how to effectively market themselves in an ever-changing, tech-centric world, helps them develop creative strategies to maximize their job search and remove employment barriers.
50+ Job-Seeker and Related Articles:
AARP Connecticut Launches 50+ Job-Seeker Series
Age-Proofing Your Resume in 2015
Make Your Network The Center of Your Search
Put Your Best Face Forward When Job-Hunting
Dealing with the “Overqualified” Label
Creating Your Personal Brand