Before to conducting a job search I hardly ever logged onto LinkedIn. I would check it out occasionally to accept connection requests and that was it. I had to; LinkedIn sent me so many emails, I thought they wanted to date me. Then all of a sudden, I became a job seeker and LinkedIn became a welcome guest again.
One of the benefits of my search was my newly acquired knowledge about how to use LinkedIn. I studied up on it real quick to get up to speed and it will undoubtedly help me throughout my career.
Job seekers often hear the phrase “The Hidden Job Market,” Directly contacting people in your industry is an essential part of any job search and LinkedIn can help you do it more efficiently, connect with new people, and keep up relationships with you do not see often.
Here are 7 Ways You Can Use LinkedIn to Access the Hidden Job Market and how to network using LinkedIn.
1. Create a respectable profile.
Don’t ignore any opportunities to fill out your profile with good info. Additionally, LinkedIn will give you suggestions on how to improve your profile, and let you know what your profile is lacking. Find a few profiles of people with many connections and good content you like and incorporate what you like into your profile.
A job search is like sales: you are the product or service, your resume and cover letter are the marketing brochures, and here, your LinkedIn profile is the advertisement.
2. Connect with your existing network.
A great way to land a job using the hidden job market is to connect with people you currently know. First, add your contacts from your email list using the import feature as shown below:
Login to LinkedIn at least once a day in your job search, and before logging out, click on the “people you may know” on the top right hand side. Add a few names that you recognize every single day. Anytime I met someone or heard an acquaintances name, I was on LinkedIn to see if we are connected, or to send a connection request.
Let you network know you are currently seeking a new opportunity. The more people that know you are searching, the more likely it is that one of them will know of a position that is available. Some employers even provide a bonus to employees when they refer a candidate that is hired.
3. Share things that will interest your connections.
As a job seeker, you want your name out there as a constant reminder to people that you exist. I would “share” articles I read that I thought people in my network would like as well. My “shares” are finance blog entries from small financial blogs that I follow (since I was in the Financial industry) in an effort to show my up to date knowledge.
My goal is that when people see something from me, they will think, “Something shared from Clark. He knows the financial industry well and shares relevant content.” To better access the Hidden Job Market, I would suggest sharing every other day like I did.
Each share makes more of an impact when your connections are not flooded with info from you every day. When that happens, they just ignore all of them or worst case, remove you as a connection. Keep in mind that many people only log in once a week, so posting every other day makes it more likely that they will see one of your posts.
4. Join at least 50 groups.
LinkedIn Groups are great ways to tap into the Hidden Job Market. When you join a group, you are automatically enrolled to receive emails each day, and many times the emails have jobs being advertised. The job advertised is not always the most important part. The person advertising is what you want.
Recruiters and those in charge of hiring will advertise jobs that are hard to fill. I guarantee the recruiters and hiring managers have better jobs for which they need no advertisement. These are the hidden jobs you are looking for. Use the group emails to connect with these people.
Recruiters and those in charge of hiring will almost always accept requests. Everyone wants to have many connections on LinkedIn. It makes them look more valuable to their employers and look like they are doing their networking.
Once they accept then you need to begin to develop a relationship with them. The follow-up after connecting is the key to building a solid relationship. Send emails specific to that connection, don’t use a template.
Let them know a little about you and that you are currently in a transition to a new position. Recruiters and those in charge of hiring may not have anything for you at that moment, but who is to say what is needed later down the road. Also, when you connect with people, view their profile and see what groups they belong to and join the ones that appeal to you.
5. Endorse, Endorse, Endorse.
LinkedIn has a cool new endorsement feature that lets you endorse a connection quickly for a certain skill that is on their profile. Everyone loves to be appreciated for what they do and it can often open up a dialogue and establish a more meaningful relationship.
6. Don’t stalk your connections.
If you send a connection request or InMail to a contact that you don’t know personally or don’t know very well, it is ok if they never respond. Sometimes people do not login to LinkedIn frequently or they just don’t recognize you. The worst thing you can do is repeatedly message them as a networking attempt.
One initial approach is enough on LinkedIn. You don’t want to create a reputation of being too persistent and bothersome. Also, don’t request to connect with hiring managers before an interview, it comes off as creepy.
7. Research 20 companies and follow them.
You can also use LinkedIn to follow companies and it will notify you of the jobs they have open. Focus on finding companies you would like to work for, see if you know people inside the company or have friends that do, and get to work getting to know them. That is the perfect example of how to tap into the Hidden Job Market.
One you get your LinkedIn profile established and get into a habit of using it, keep it up even after you get a job you love! I promise you it will pay off.