You wouldn’t embark on a cross-country road trip without the tools you need to reach your destination, would you? Maybe some maps, but definitely a good GPS system these days. While not infallible, GPS is nearly always helpful.
The same holds true for the tools you need to use in your high-level job search—loosely defined as VP and above. They must be as strong as possible, and you need to use them as wisely and effectively as possible. Like a GPS, though, they might not be perfect.
Which brings us to LinkedIn as a tool for your job search.
What Can LinkedIn Do for Your Job Search?
At its best, LinkedIn can serve as a semi-active representative in your outreach to potential employers. I say semi-active because it won’t replace active networking as a tool, but it’s at least “out there” 24x7.
If you develop a strong LinkedIn profile, it will help you attract employer and recruiter attention you might not otherwise get. Foolproof or not, it’s an excellent marketing tool.
Of course, establishing a great profile isn’t the end of the process. If you expect LinkedIn to work for you in your high-level job search—or your overall career management, for that matter—you’ll have to maintain it and keep it fresh. When you do a good job of that, your profile becomes more visible in employer searches.
What LinkedIn CAN’T Do for Your Job Search
It can’t replace active effort on your part. It’s a tool, but it can’t do 100% of your job for you. Like most tools, it has its limits.
For example, if you need to dig a hole in the ground, you probably grab a shovel, not a hammer! No matter how good a tool is, it has to be the right one for the job to be successful. By the same token, LinkedIn allows you to share quite a bit of information about yourself—certainly more than you could include in a resume—but it’s not the best place to relate your life story.
You need to respect what a tool like LinkedIn can achieve for you and not expect it to perform outside what it’s designed to do. However, within those parameters, it can be quite effective, so start from that basis. Make sure your profile communicates your message to the intended audience—if you’re using it to reach out to potential employers, it must give them good reason to reach out to you.
Watch Out for LinkedIn “Gotchas”!
- Your LinkedIn profile is an always-on, accessible-to-all tool, unless you make it private—which sort of defeats the purpose of having one. That being the case, what you put in it should be carefully considered before you create or update it.
For instance, if your content steps over the line regarding employer confidentiality, you might cause yourself major difficulties. At the very least, you could raise a question in the minds of prospective employers about your ability to be discreet. This is not something you want to communicate!
- Whatever you include in your profile should fit with what’s in your professional resume. One of the very last things you want is to have an apparent disconnect between the information in those two marketing tools. That includes dates and/or titles that don’t match up properly, as well as success stories with differing details ($$$, %, etc.).
Just as you wouldn’t set off on a trip without the right tools, so you shouldn’t start planning and executing your high-level job search without the tools to do it effectively. Used appropriately and with suitable diligence, your LinkedIn profile can fulfill that role very well.