There was a great post yesterday on Guy Kawasaki’s blog on 10 ways to find a job using LinkedIn.

It’s a very timely post because I find that, even among my fairly young and tech-savvy friends, people still have trouble imagining how to best leverage their professional network online to help them with their job search.  Too often, people think of social networks as just an online Rolodex or messaging client.  They don’t realize that while there is great advantage in keeping up with your connections, the true transformative power is the ability to look past the people you know directly to explore options in your broader network.

Here is a quote from the article:

Searching for a job can suck if you constrain yourself to the typical tools such as online jobs boards, trade publications, CraigsList, and networking with only your close friends. In these kinds of times, you need to use all the weapons that you can, and one that many people don’t—or at least don’t use to the fullest extent, is LinkedIn.

I won’t paraphrase the entire article here – it’s worth reading directly. But it is worth noting the three steps that I highly recommend, regardless of whether you are looking for a job or not:

  • Be found. It’s almost criminal to leave your LinkedIn profile unfinished.  Think of it as search optimization, but not for a website – for you.  The more positions you list, education you cite, and skills you highlight, the more likely it is that the right people will find you.  It’s not hard – in fact, if you have a resume handy from your last job search, you can fill in a profile typically with a few minutes of cut & paste.   Most people are shocked to find out how many great opportunities find them once they fill out their professional profile.

Build your LinkedIn Profile

  • Bring your network online. Your network is one of your most valuable assets, but it does little good for you offline. Upload your Address Book, invite the people you want to connect with, and get connected.  Most people don’t realize that having your network online means that you can now use it as a personalized search engine for both who and what you know.  That’s exactly you only want to connect with people you actually know.  It’s no good finding out you are one degree away from the company of your dreams, if that connection doesn’t know you from Adam (pardon the expression). Worse, that false connection can even “crowd out” a real connection to that company in the LinkedIn search engine.  Your relationships are the heart of social relevance – use them.

Build your Online Professional Network on LinkedIn

  • Search! You’d think that after a decade of search engines people would get this, but it’s amazing to watch the light go on once they search for something other than a name.  Interested in working for clean tech?  Try searching for it.  Search the company directory on LinkedIn.  Find companies in your favorite industry, in your favorite city.  Then search your network (”People Search”) for that company name.  If you’ve done steps 1 & 2, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what a small world it is.  If you are looking for a job, and you aren’t spending hours a day on LinkedIn, chances are it’s because you haven’t discovered the power of people search.

Search for people, companies or jobs on LinkedIn

LinkedIn, of course, has a complete Jobs section to help you actually search for posted openings.

Hope this helps people out there who want to get started.  We’re all hoping that LinkedIn can be a real force for good in 2009, helping people find the right opportunity in a tough job market.

Feel free to continue sharing your job hunting tips in the comments section. Thanks!