LinkedIn is so much more than just a networking app. It's a powerful job hunting tool, personal branding platform, and search engine for all things work. Want to find your next role? Connect with peers and industry leaders? Build your personal brand? You can do it all on LinkedIn.
What makes LinkedIn particularly useful for career development is how it functions as a portfolio website and social media platform all rolled into one. For example, you could devote time every week to create content, connect with interesting people, and leave comments on your connections' posts to grow your network. But if you can't be as active on the platform, even spending a few hours updating your profile could attract recruiters and valuable contacts for years to come.
It doesn't matter if you've been a member for a while or you're just getting started. You can follow these tips to make the most of LinkedIn.
1. Build your personal brand
Personal brands aren't just for entrepreneurs or influencers. You can use a personal brand to help you find a job, particularly if you're looking for a highly specialized or more senior-level position. It can also help you attract other career-accelerating opportunities, like public speaking engagements or guest blogging positions.
Your personal brand should ultimately communicate who you are, what you stand for, what you can offer, and what sets you apart from other professionals. It should help illustrate your value to whoever you want to engage with, whether that's potential employers, recruiters, or industry peers.
The first step to building your personal brand on LinkedIn? Optimize your profile. Use the summary section to write a bio that tells a story and highlights your goals, values, skills, and expertise. Then, update the rest of your profile to support the story you've crafted. For example, if diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to you, include experiences, volunteer positions, and recommendations highlighting this interest. You can keep honing your brand by sharing and posting relevant content that aligns with your interests, values, and expertise.
2. Find your next job
Did you know that eight people are hired every minute on LinkedIn? If you want to increase your chances of landing your next job or spend less time on the hunt, make sure you leverage all the job search features LinkedIn offers. For example, the Career Explorer tool can match you with new job opportunities based on your skills. You can also turn on the "Open to Work" feature on your profile to let recruiters and your network know what you're looking for.
And, of course, don't forget to reach out to your network. Message family, friends, past coworkers, or classmates you've connected with on LinkedIn and see if they know anybody who's hiring or can offer a referral. To maximize your time, you can also search for jobs by criteria like job title, location, remote work, industry, or company and set up alerts, so you get a notification when a new job matches your search.
3. Show your personality
LinkedIn may be a professional platform, but that doesn't mean you can't showcase your personality. If you want to set yourself apart from other professionals and make an impression on your network, give people a glimpse of the person behind the professional title.
For example, you can share a personal story in the Summary section of your profile. Or you can post your own content and comment on others' posts to share your perspective and start conversations. And don't be afraid to talk about what you do outside of work, like sharing updates about your side projects or volunteer gigs—it can help your connections get to know you better.
4. Get noticed by recruiters and other valuable contacts
Even if you're not actively searching for a new role or opportunity, you never know who might come across your profile and want to connect. According to a 2021 Jobvite report, 65% of recruiters surveyed use LinkedIn to source talent, and over half (53%) say it's the social channel that delivers the highest quality candidates.
LinkedIn functions like a search engine, so use specific keywords throughout your profile to attract relevant opportunities. For example, I added "B2B SaaS, HR, and Marketing" to my Headline to highlight my core writing niches. You'll also want to list industry experience, relevant qualifications, and past positions in your bio to maximize discoverability.
Finally, you can't stand on the sidelines if you want to get noticed. Join the party by creating content and engaging with posts. The more active you are, the more you'll show up in your connections' feeds, which can help keep you top-of-mind for your target audience. And be sure to make a LinkedIn banner that stands out.
5. Network up, across, and out
There's much more to LinkedIn than networking, but it's still one of its most valuable features—as long as you're not just collecting random contacts. Not sure where to start? Follow ExitGuide founder Eric Grafstrom's approach of networking up, across, and out.
Networking up means connecting with people you admire or consider leaders in your industry who could provide mentorship or sponsorship.
Networking across involves building relationships with colleagues who may be at the same level but work in different functions or industries, so you can learn from each other and lift each other up.
Networking out means reaching out to people outside your geographic area. With members in 200 countries and regions, you can connect with people worldwide on LinkedIn. And thanks to the rise of remote work, those international connections could lead you to your next role or virtual speaking engagement.
6. Highlight your work and expertise
Unlike a standard resume, Linkedin allows you to tell a story about your career and show off what you can do, thanks to its multimedia capabilities.
For example, did you recently organize a company event? You could write an article about the experience and share photos and videos to your feed. Helped develop a company eBook or whitepaper? You can share links to your work in the Publications or Featured sections of your LinkedIn profile. Recently completed a continuing education course or training? Show off your hard work by updating your Licenses and Certifications section.
7. Demonstrate your impact with social proof
Don't discount the Skills and Recommendations sections of your LinkedIn Profile. 44% of hirers on LinkedIn explicitly use skills data to fill their roles. In addition, when other members recommend or endorse you, it can strengthen your profile by allowing others to communicate your value for you.
To optimize your Skills section, you'll first want to clear out the clutter. For example, delete any endorsements for run-of-the-mill skills that won't help you stand out (e.g., Microsoft Word, Google Docs), and add industry-specific skills. Also, make sure to include relevant keywords to make your profile more searchable.
Lastly, when reaching out to members for recommendations, don't hesitate to provide some direction. Your recommendations should reinforce the personal brand you've built, so let your colleagues know if you want them to include any particular skills, experiences, or keywords in their testimonials.
Take advantage of everything LinkedIn has to offer
LinkedIn may not be the biggest social media platform on the block, but when it comes to all things career development, it's hard to beat. Building a presence on LinkedIn will make you more visible to companies that may want to hire you, increasing your chances of landing that dream role.
You can use the platform to put your job-seeking and career-building efforts on autopilot by attracting your target audience to your profile and content. And its search function makes it easy for you to directly reach out and connect with people who could change the trajectory of your career.
If you want to make big career moves, you can't wait around for people to notice you. Instead, use LinkedIn to intentionally build your personal brand and amplify your work to the right people.