Moving along in our Job Search Checklist from A to Z blog series, L represents one of the smartest tools you can use in your job search and career: LinkedIn.

If you want to be relevant in today’s job market, you need to be active on LinkedIn. It is the largest professional networking site out there with over 225 million members. Plus, 97% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find job candidates. LinkedIn is a big deal; you can’t afford to ignore it.

Start with your profile

LinkedIn is based on the concept that networking is the best way to find a job. The great thing about LinkedIn is that it’s not just connecting you to people you know, but it links you with additional people who your network knows. It’s all about connections. But you have to make sure you have a LinkedIn presence that really tells your story and showcases your personal brand. Start by building a powerful and relevant LinkedIn Profile. Here are a few tips:

  • Photo – This is the first thing people will see when they check you out on LinkedIn. Make sure you have a professional-looking head shot. This is not the place to feature your vacation photos.
  • Headline – This is basically your tagline. Create up a quick, catchy, descriptive title for yourself.
  • Summary – Tell your story. Who you are, your skills and experience, what you want to be known for; basically, what you’re all about.
  • Employment – Include current and former jobs, job titles, dates, and accomplishments. Add relevant links and work examples as able.
  • Skills & Endorsements – Select at least 5 of more skills. Encourage others to endorse your skills.
  • Education – Include the name of the school, degree earned, dates, and any awards. You should stick with schools beyond high school, if possible.
  • Recommendations – Go for quality over quantity. 5-10 is a realistic goal.

Get networking

Building a strong, professional, creative profile is a good start on LinkedIn, but there is so much more to do. First and foremost, LinkedIn is a professional networking site; so how do you get started making connections? Once you’ve made sure your profile is 100% complete, it’s time to start working other areas of LinkedIn. Here are a few places to start:

  • Make connections – LinkedIn will recommend contacts based on your employment and education history, but you can go further than that. You can import your email database and look for contacts, you can reach out to influential individuals that you know and send and invitation to connect. One tip on sending an invite: Personalize it! LinkedIn provides a standard invitation to send to potential connections, but you have the opportunity to customize it for each individual.
  • Join groups – There are over 1 million groups on LinkedIn. You can find a group based on your industry, interests, location, profession and more. There is something for everyone. Be an active participant in your groups. Respond to posted questions and provide useful advice. Hopefully, you’ll find others that share your interest and make additional contacts.
  • Find job openings – LinkedIn will list jobs you may like based on your profile. Check out the listings and contact companies and hiring managers of interest.
  • Follow companies – Keep tabs on your favorite companies. See what they’re up to and find people who work there to contact.

Even once you’ve done all this, you’re not done with LinkedIn. It is a site you should be active on every day. Post updates, share articles, make connections and more. And don’t forget to update your profile once you land that new job!

This Career Coach blog post is part of the series: Your Job Search Checklist from A to Z. If you are interested in checking out the webinar on the same topic, click here. Otherwise, keep watching the Career Coach blog for 26 job search alphabet posts.

Jill Kempka

About Jill Kempka

Jill loves to share information about ways to keep up with the changing world of work. She focuses on quick tips, facts and helpful lists to give job seekers tactics and advice they can immediately use.