The Getting Back-to-Business Checklist for Job Hunters

December 11, 2008

Most job seekers on LinkedIn, probably have their favorite tips and tricks that help them land their dream job - whether it be re-entering the workforce, making a career 180 heading into the new year or even if someone has just been laid off and looking for a new position. Here's a comprehensive list of 10 steps one should take on LinkedIn while job hunting:

1. Begin your hunt early.

Give yourself at least six months before your desired start date. Take time to review your goals and decide on a feasible plan of action. If your new career requires additional education, then begin even earlier.

2. Revamp your professional toolbox.

Take a look at job descriptions you’re interested in and make a checklist of the skills and talents they require. If you have weak spots you may want to consider taking a class at your local community college. If you don’t have time to attend a seminar or class (or if money is an issue) another option is to browse and/or ask questions on LinkedIn Answers so you can get the info you need. Use Advanced Answers Search to find questions associated with specific keywords like, “marketing” or “venture capital.”

3. Be a news hound.

Read trade publications online and review the changes that are occurring in your industry. Staying on top of current trends and newsworthy events can often make or break an interview. Join LinkedIn Groups that are associated with both your old/previous profession as well as the new industry that you’re looking to join. See what news articles people in those groups are reading by clicking on the news tab in the group and submit links to articles that you’ve read to start conversations/network with others in the group.

4. Give your resume and your LinkedIn Profile a face lift.

Make sure that both your resume and profile reflect the changing times. Eliminate any terms that may have become obsolete. Use power keywords, words of action and words that show accomplishment and achievement - as opposed to words that merely describe what your previous role was. Also, if you’re currently unemployed list your current position as “open to opportunities.” Edit your LinkedIn Profile.

5. Update your Status

If you just recently lost your job, make sure you update your status field in your profile so your network know that you're looking for a job. It's a quick and easy way to let folks you're connected to know that you could use their help. David Stevens, one of our users, updated his status upon being laid off. Within seven business days someone in his network knew of an open position, which Dave landed shortly thereafter.

6. Do your homework.

Sign on to LinkedIn and do a search for people that already have your dream job title. What positions did they hold beforehand? How long were they in their previous role? Information like this can be a valuable bargaining chip when it comes time to negotiate your salary. Also do search for your desired employer’s LinkedIn Company Profile. Company Profiles show career paths for people before/after they joined a company, recent promotions/changes, most popular profiles and other stats that will help you understand any potential employer (and its competitors) better.

7. Rekindle relationships/build your network before you need it.

Use LinkedIn to do a search for people that live in your hometown and work in your desired industry. Offer to take them to lunch near their office and learn more about the industry, their position, likes/dislikes and other firms in the area. New acquaintances help you expand your network giving you a broader reach into the job market. Use the networks of your friends and family since they are your best advocates.

8. Confidence counts.

Before your interview, check and see if the person who’s interviewing you is on LinkedIn. If they are, check for common acquaintances. Having a mutual friend or old co-worker is a great icebreaker and an awesome way to get your foot in the door. It’s also worth taking a look at the schools they’ve attended and what cities they’ve lived in since that may be another commonality. And, never underestimate the power that your favorite pair of shoes or a good power suit can wield.

9. Check your surroundings for other resources.

A number of communities offer resources for people returning to the workforce. If you think you may be lacking marketable skills, haven’t been working for five years or more or have never held a paying job, check with your state’s department of labor office. The Internet also offers a plethora of blogs, columns and publications that are geared toward helping you jump start your career so do a search for those as well.

10. Pay it forward - recommend an old friend or a colleague

And, finally, your LinkedIn profile is like a living, breathing resume; so ask friends and old co-workers to leave recommendations for you on your profile. That way potential employers can see them. Make sure that you ask references to comment on specific traits that highlight what a perfect fit you are for your new career and remember to thank them afterward.

If you aren't looking for a job, but want to help a friend or colleague that lost their job leave a recommendation for them on their LinkedIn Profile. Recommendations spread virally, so if you leave Joe a recommendation on his profile all 65 of his connections will see a network update when they sign in showing that you just recommended his work. Your connections will also receive a network update saying that you just recommended Joe too so it's a fast and effective way to let both of your networks know that this person is a hard worker and great person to work with.

* Feel free to share your favorite LinkedIn Tip on job hunting in the comments section