With over 460,000,000 registered members around the world in 2017, LinkedIn is no longer the new kid on the block nor is it simply an online resume repository. Since its inception in May of 2003, LinkedIn has become, arguably, the most important social networking tool for working age individuals whether or not they are currently looking for a job. It’s been a game changer, perhaps future trendsetter, on one click applying for certain positions.
For those of you unfamiliar with LinkedIn, you need to stop what you are doing and take notice. Gone are the days when LinkedIn was simply an online place for professionals to deposit an online version of their resumes and then ignore. Today, LinkedIn is the easiest way professionals can showcase their knowledge and skills. It is an incredibly important tool in establishing a personal brand. It is the online destination many HR folks go to either seek out potential candidates or get a good look at a candidate’s professional profile and to see if they are active and knowledgeable in the industry of choice. It keeps your professional contacts within reach for those pesky reference lists (no more searching for current information) and allows for online recommendations from colleagues to add to your professional profile.
If those reasons weren’t good enough, LinkedIn also serves as a powerful networking and job search tool. You may even apply for some positions directly through your LinkedIn profile. With the advent of LinkedIn Pulse and the like, there are a plethora of industry specialists writing posts that will keep your skills honed. Additionally, LinkedIn offers its users the ability to share posts, comment on posts, and show their industry knowledge through posting their own articles. This is an extremely valuable personal branding tool and may, in future or right now, give you a leg up to your competition. Remember, HR recruiters get many, many applications and it’s hard to stand out among the crowd. You need to be a step ahead, or at the very least match, your competition.
But, what if you don’t have a current job or haven’t actively pursued a career for quite a few years and don’t anticipate going back for a few more? LinkedIn is STILL FOR YOU. If you ever believe you will be reentering the career world, you want to be prepared, be comfortable using online tools, and have a track record in place. Even if you don’t think you will return, things happen and you may find you HAVE to return. This is the time to prepare. You may not think you have much to offer an online resume but do some creative thinking. Have you been active in volunteer work and if so, what have you done and what skills have been created? LinkedIn offers an area to highlight volunteer work. Do you have a blog? That information could be very valuable to future employers and will showcase your writing skills and technical aptitude. Have you been taking some classes or earned certificates? There are many things you may be doing right now even if you haven’t had a traditional career that would fall neatly into place on a LinkedIn profile. If you still don’t think you have anything to offer, perhaps you should start exploring new skills or volunteering opportunities so you have something in place in case you need them.
If you set up a profile more than a few years ago but haven’t updated it since or explored LinkedIn further, now is the time to rediscover LinkedIn and update your online resume and profile. LinkedIn has changed tremendously and grown bigger and better each year. In 2010 LinkedIn had 500 employees worldwide. That number has grown to 9,200 full time employees in 30 cities around the world (numbers from LinkedIn February 2016). That type of growth was fueled by the additional offerings such as LinkedIn Pulse and a growing worldwide influence. Taking advantage of LinkedIn Groups or forums as well as sharing the latest news, research or innovative essays concerning your area of expertise written by you or others highlights your knowledge of the industry or current trends. It helps others to see you as a professional and encourages dialog. When a recruiter notices you have commented on particular articles and shared others, this helps them create a picture of you juxtaposed against other possible candidates. If you aren’t active and all she gets is a skeleton resume, but the other candidate has a full profile, updated professional picture and has shared some cutting edge articles from noteworthy authorities in the industry at question, guess who she will see more favorably? No doubt your actual resume lists all your accomplishments but so did the other candidates’. What makes you stand out?
Even if you have no intention of finding a new position in the foreseeable future, the best seat to have when and if you need it is the driver’s seat. Prepare today for tomorrow. I encourage you to take advantage of LinkedIn offerings. They’re free. They’re numerous. A little work today makes for an easier experience when you need it.
Kristine Pierce is an experienced attorney turned certified personal branding strategist and certified social branding analyst. With a decade in government regulatory law, including as the Governor’s appointed State Extradition Coordinator and the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety’s Chief Legal Counsel, she has also been a speaker, author and instructor. She’s passionate about sharing her vision that people should do what they love, never give up on their big dreams and never fear change. Rebranding is possible if it’s done well. As Founder of KHPierce Consulting, she focuses her expertise on helping professionals, solo business owners, and people in transition achieve their goals by finding methods and strategies to showcase their uniqueness. You can find her on Twitter @kristine_pierce; Instagram @kristine.pierce; LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kristinepierce and at http://www.khpierce.com