If you’re just applying to job postings online, your chances of getting the job are becoming more and more slim. Here’s what you need to be doing to increase your chances of getting hired:
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK.
These days, as little as 15% of job applicants are actually getting hired the traditional way: applying to job postings. So how are the other 85% getting hired? Through networking!! Yes, it’s more work, but isn’t finding your new job worth it?
You should spend at least half your time networking and trying to get referrals to jobs, in addition to applying to job postings online.
BUT WHY? Imagine you’re a hiring manager with hundreds of resumes to go through. Suddenly, someone who works for your company sends you a referral and an attached resume via email. You’ll definitely check that out – after all, they KNOW what it takes to succeed in this company, and their putting their credibility on the line to refer this applicant, so they must be good. Or, an applicant sends you an email (which means they actually took the time to find you and your email address), demonstrates some basic knowledge of your company and how they can help it prosper, with an attached resume. Definitely reading that. Oh wait, I had hundreds of resumes to go through? Meh, let’s give these applicants a shot first, and THEN I’ll get to those later (sometimes later NEVER comes, as you know if you’ve applied to tons of jobs with zero response).
So now you know what you absolutely need to be doing. But where can you find an enormous network of 530 million professionals and counting to take advantage of and to find these essential company contacts?
If you’re not on LinkedIn in this day and age (it’s 2018 folks, get with it), YOU NEED TO BE. Do it now. It’s not hard. I hear many of my customers say “I don’t need LinkedIn, I have my own network.” WRONG, yes you do. Here’s why:
- Companies use LinkedIn to search for potential candidates for jobs that aren’t even posted. That’s right – if you have a profile that is public and packed with industry keywords, companies can seek YOU out for jobs. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
- You can keep track of and grow a network of professional contacts. Your friends and colleagues are always getting new jobs, and even if you’re not on the hunt for a new job now, you will be eventually, so why not have this network in place for when you’re ready?
- You can easily find contacts for the companies you are applying to and send them your resume in addition to applying online. This gives your resume a much better chance of being seen (once by human eyes, and once by the applicant tracking system, hopefully).
Before we get into how to use LinkedIn to actively network, here’s how to create a killer LinkedIn profile that can actually work for YOU.
| THE BASICS: Fill out your profile
Your profile should NOT just be a copy of your resume. It should be much more concise and tell a story of who you are, where you’ve been, your top accomplishments, and where you’re going next.
| YES YOU NEED A PHOTO
Studies show that recruiters spend up to 1/5 of their time looking at YOUR PROFILE PHOTO! Ahh!
So put up a photo. It does not have to be professionally taken, and you don’t want to look TOO serious. Aim for friendly and approachable but still professional.
Your photo should be clear, bright (good lighting), and just of you (outdoor scenery is fine).
| THE HEADLINE
This is incredibly important as it is the FIRST thing someone sees under search results and when viewing your profile. Fill it with keywords, and you’re one step closer to an optimized profile (that includes SEO) that enables companies to find YOU.
Some recommend keeping your headline simple: just state your current job and company (“Sales Manager at XYZ Company”).
But I disagree. Anyone can find that information further down your profile – do not waste this valuable space with the name of your current or previous company. You’re not advertising them – this is your space, you want to advertise YOURSELF and your key skills. And if you’re not currently employed, this really applies to you.
When searching for a job, you will come across specific keywords that you see in all related job postings. Highlight them, write them down, and sprinkle them throughout your LinkedIn profile, resume, and use the important ones in your headline. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you will know which keywords (skills, certifications and experiences) are important to companies in your field.
*Here’s a trick: copy/paste the job posting(s) into Wordle and get a visual of the top words used.
What sets you apart from the competition? What are a few industry key words or skills you want an employer to associate with your name? What are you known for? What do you kick butt at doing that would create value for a company? This article does a great job of explaining how to use SEO in your profile if you’re still unsure.
| THE SUMMARY
Who are you as a professional? Give a brief but keyword-packed synopsis of your experience, expertise and/or related passion.
- “Your professional title” with over X years experience.
- Expertise in XYZ.
- A passion for XYZ.
- Currently in X role or have the goal of Y.
*Here’s a trick: search for profiles of people in your field/industry and see who pops up on the first page of results. Check out their profiles for a little inspiration on what yours should include (they’re popping up first for a reason..).
| CUSTOMIZE YOUR URL
Most default URLs look something like this, which are a nightmare for an employer to type into a URL: www.linkedin.com/in/firstname-lastname-789643963
But, you can change the part after the “/in/” to whatever you want! Your goal is to make it as short and sweet as possible, so it just looks like this: www.linkedin.com/in/FirstLast
To do this, on the Edit Profile screen, at the bottom of the gray window that shows your basic information, you’ll see a Public Profile URL. Click “Edit” next to the URL, and specify what you’d like your address to be. When you’re finished, click Set Custom URL. If you’re still confused, in depth directions here.
Do not forget to fill out this section! And don’t copy/paste your entire resume (unless it’s really concise and powerful). Stick to your key accomplishments – if you only had 3 sentences to describe how awesome you’ve been at your previous job, what would you say? Now do it – and stick to just a few sentences and like you would in your resume, use numbers to highlight your achievements wherever possible to really stand out.
*Here’s a trick: If you’re currently unemployed, make sure you have something listed as your current job – if not, your profile probably will not get found in searches. Either keep your past job listed as “present,” or make up a “dummy” listing, state your title and write “seeking new opportunities” in the company field.
Don’t forget, you can add media here as well! Link to anything that isn’t confidential – something you’ve worked on that you’re proud of, if it’s visible online. Use this space to advertise YOUR work, not just the company webpage.
Just fill out the basics if you’ve been out of school for a while. For new grads: if you have a lot of college accomplishments, list them here.
Don’t go crazy here – recruiters will glance at these, but endorsements from others don’t hold a lot of weight.
Want to go above and beyond to have an amazing LinkedIn profile? Ask your former supervisors, colleagues or clients for recommendations. This is a great way to show potential employers how much you are valued.
- Just like your resume, do not use third person! It’s just weird.
- Do use a more conversational tone. No need to be crazy formal here.
- Make sure your profile is PUBLIC! You can change this in Settings.
- Have a ton of knowledge in your field, and think it would be beneficial for others to hear? Start writing LinkedIn posts! Others will share them and like them, which means your name and article may be seen by THEIR connections, and you might just get seen by the right person who appreciates your expertise.
| HOW TO NETWORK ON LINKEDIN
If you’re new to or not a regular user of LinkedIn, look through the People You May Know section, link it up with your email and Facebook contacts, and start connecting. Start with the basics, and connect with everyone you already know first – this will mostly be friends and family.
Then, you need to start making some more valuable connections: current co-workers, former co-workers, anyone you’ve met professionally (from other companies, those you’ve worked with as clients or as the client), professors, alumni, even neighbors!
Join groups in your target profession/industry. Start adding to the conversation to make connections.
FIRST DEGREE CONNECTIONS:
Once you have a bunch of connections, look through them to see if any actually work at companies you’d be a good fit for. It’s much easier to contact someone you already know to strike up a conversation about a potential job, and if they can pass your resume along (refer you for the job), it would ensure your resume was seen.
“BUT WAIT, I feel funny about asking for a referral!”
I know, it’s weird. Get over it. Companies actually WANT to see referrals. It’s just EASIER to have candidates land in your inbox. Some even give bonuses or other incentives to their employees for successful referrals. Why? Because it saves them a TON of time and effort! Remember that whole “hundreds of resumes to go through” part? Yeah, no one wants to do that. When a current employee sends a referral to the hiring team, a high quality candidate has essentially fallen into their lap!
Some hiring teams also stop looking through the pile when they’ve found a few qualified applicants – which also means that your resume won’t even stand a chance, by no fault of yours! Or, your resume may get looked at for 5 seconds, with tired eyes, and passed over for no “good” reason.
Companies trust their own employees to be reliable at screening potential employees. After all, they know the environment and know what it takes to succeed as an employee – therefore, they should only be referring top notch candidates who would easily fit in.
Plus, if you are referred by a current employee or send your resume to a contact you found in the company through LinkedIn, your resume will most likely get seen, and you are more likely to get a shot at an interview, even if you’re not perfect for the job. YUP. That is NOT the case when you apply the old fashioned way through job postings – your resume is actually more likely not to be seen than to be seen.
So, how do you ask for a referral without being pushy or annoying? Here’s an idea:
Subject: A favor: X role at Y company
Hope all is well (quick chit chat about anything related), etc.
I’m reaching out because I am currently searching for a job in X field, and I recently applied to a posting for X job at Y (your) company. My experience is in X, I have XYZ related skills, and a passion/interest in X, so I was excited to see this position become available and think it would be a great fit.
If you have the time, I would really appreciate it if you could forward my attached resume to get it into the right hands! I know I would kill it in an interview, I just need to get this resume seen to get to that point (I also applied online, but you know that can be a black hole..). Any other ideas (or contacts) to help get my foot in the door would also be greatly appreciated.
I owe you one! (Or, next time you’re in X area let’s get dinner, etc.). Thank you so much!
SECOND & THIRD DEGREE CONNECTIONS (when you don’t know anyone working at your target company):
Take the jobs you plan to or have applied to, and find the companies on LinkedIn. Follow them.
Now you want to find contacts at that company to reach out to, most importantly, those who might be in charge of hiring for your target position. For example, people you know at the company (these would be your 1st degree connections), people who work there with whom you have a mutual connection (2nd degree connections), or recruiters, head of the department, hiring managers, head of HR, etc. (3rd degree connections).
To do this, start to type in the company name in the search bar at the top of the LinkedIn page, and a few options will show in the drop down menu. Click the correct company. When you’re on the company page, if you have any connections working at the company you will see them listed to the right, above “See all # employees on LinkedIn.” If you do not have any connections there, click “See all # employees on LinkedIn.” This shows you all of the employees, and you can filter them on the RIGHT by clicking the 1st and 2nd degree connection boxes. Then, in the “Keywords” section, search for “human” (for “human resources”), talent (for “talent acquisition”), “hiring” (hiring manager), or the department name so you can find the head (aka your future boss, which would be an incredible referral).
Sometimes LinkedIn will actually show you who posted a job – perfect person to reach out to!
Once you find that essential connection to reach out to, if you want to send your resume, you need to find their email address. Search for their name + the company name on Google and see if anything comes up, or search the company website (some also have directories). If you can’t find the contact’s email address, see if you can find anyone’s email address. Then, use that same formula to “guess” at your target contact’s address – most of the time this actually works, since all companies use some sort of formula for email addresses. For example, many companies use a simple formula of “first name + last name @company.com” or “first initial + last name @company.com”
If the whole email thing is unsuccessful, you can send a Connect request on LinkedIn and type in a personal note, or send them InMail. The only thing is that you won’t be able to attach your resume. Don’t be too pushy, and find a way to demonstrate what you’re good at. This is a great example of how to contact a lead on LinkedIn.
If you have LinkedIn Premium, you will be able to message anyone you’d like, which is pretty great. There is a free Premium trial on the LinkedIn site, or just bite the bullet and sign up for a month or two (be sure to remember to cancel when you no longer need it)! A new job just might be worth the monthly fee for a few months.
So, how do you reach out to someone you don’t know (a hiring manager, head of the department, etc.) via a cold email?
Subject: X role at Y company
I hope you don’t mind me reaching out: I came across your information on (LinkedIn or elsewhere). I am extremely interested in the X role which I applied to (date) and wanted to introduce myself.
I am currently searching for a job in X field, as my experience is in X, I have XYZ related skills, and/or a passion/interest in X. I was excited to see this position become available and think it would be a great fit.
(Feel free to include anything you know and admire about the company, or how you think you can help them solve an issue, make more money, bring more value to their customers, etc.)
I have attached my resume, and would love the opportunity to speak with you about the role.
Thank you so much!
And repeat for every job you apply to. =)