Ted just lost his job as a store manager. He has returned to LinkedIn to find a new opportunity because many of his friends and colleagues have used it successfully when they were out of work (he has rarely logged on since his last job search two years ago). After updating his profile to show he is unemployed, his next steps are as follows:
Although this Ted isn't a real person, I have witnessed the above many, many times over the last few years. (In fact, I get asked pretty much every week to send specific job leads I may see to people I just connected with.) But does that mean it's wrong? Is there a better way to job search on LinkedIn?
I don't believe everything Ted is doing is wrong. It is helpful to let people know you are actively seeking new opportunities. It is helpful to join as many groups as you can to maximize your reach. It is helpful to leverage your network at times to reach your goals. But it's not helpful to only focus on what's in it for you.
Give as much as you take
LinkedIn is a social network and to be social means to give and receive. Unfortunately, too many people don't want to participate in building a community - they just want to show up when it's built to see what's in it for them. The problem with that, from a job search perspective, is you don't develop a great reputation. Your contacts and fellow group members (including recruiters and hiring managers) can see your activity, and they may not be impressed if everything you post is about you and your needs.
I promote my business on LinkedIn, directly and indirectly, as many others do. But I also do the following on a regular basis:
I do this for several reasons. It helps to keep my name out there, I like to give back to the community, I like to help others, I like to build my network, I like to stay current on retail news, and I want to establish my reputation as an industry leader. For me, it's the right thing to do ethically and for the development of my business. The same can work for you as a job-seeker to help you stay up-to-date, keep your name in the forefront, and develop your reputation.
Establish yourself as a leader in the industry
Yes you need to respond to job postings, research companies, identify and network with recruiters, etc. - there's nothing wrong with that and I don't encourage you to stop. But at the same time you can also post and comment on articles, share job leads, initiate group discussions, and encourage other job-seekers, not only because it helps build the community we share, but also because it helps develop your reputation in the industry.
Here's another way to think about it. As a job-seeker, your goal is to develop trust with a recruiter or hiring manager. How do you do that? Instead of just saying you're great, you prove it to them. That's why portfolios are so often used in interviews, and recommendations and references are so valuable in the decision-making process. It's not enough to simply say "Trust me, I am awesome" - you need to prove it through examples or third-party testimonials.
Your online conduct is a way of offering proof to a recruiter. When you post an intelligent, thought-provoking comment on an article about challenges faced by a national retailer, as an example, you are demonstrating your high level of knowledge for everyone who reads it, including recruiters and hiring managers. It's like getting the opportunity to respond to an interview question and broadcast your awesome answer to the world, without even being invited to an interview! As long as your posts and comments are professional, well written, and constructive, your reputation as a respected retail leader will grow. (Or, take it one step further and start your own blog so others can consistently see the depth of your knowledge and experience!)
Don't leave once you find a job
Unless you're approaching retirement, your career is something you need to always develop. Jobs come and go, but your overall career needs continuous nurturing if you want to reach higher goals. That is why it's not a good idea to drop LinkedIn after you've found a new job. It's like taking your foot off the gas pedal.
Maintaining a presence on LinkedIn while you're employed (although understandably on a smaller scale) is helpful because it allows you to keep in touch with your network, stay up-to-date on industry news, and continue to build your reputation. You can also use it in your new job for recruitment purposes. Then, when the time comes to job search again (and that time will invariably come), you won't be parachuting in from out of the blue. You'll have a current, active network that is already familiar with you that you can engage with.