While it’s crucial to do the right things in a job search, it’s also important to avoid making common mistakes. Here are the top five missteps to avoid — and how LinkedIn can help you overcome them:
Mistake 1!: Being uninformed
Companies today want employees who can hit the ground running, and that means knowing as much as possible about what that company does, who its competitors are and what’s happening in its overall industry.
Beyond thoroughly researching the employer’s own website, you should follow that organization’s Company Page on LinkedIn. Pay special attention to current news the company is posting (which can provide ideas for specific questions to ask during networking conversations and formal job interviews) and the “Products & Services” page, which provides a cheat sheet to the company’s overall structure and offerings.
For general insight into an employer’s industry, subscribe to that industry’s LinkedIn Channel and join a few LinkedIn Groups in that field to get a sense of what industry insiders are talking about. Not sure which groups will be most valuable? Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people who work for your dream employer and join the groups they belong to.
Mistake 2!: Losing touch
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of jobs are found through networking. This means that every member of your network should be cherished; any lost connection is potentially a lost opportunity.
You can use LinkedIn Contacts to manage all of your existing connections and integrate them with your daily calendar. This means you’ll never miss an opportunity to congratulate someone on a new job or follow up on a recent meeting. Scan through your LinkedIn feed on a daily basis, too, to look for opportunities to comment on people’s status updates and the news they share. Even a simple “like” on an article someone has posted can lead to a chat, which can lead to an opportunity.
To reengage with people you’ve lost touch with, check out the alumni groups of any corporations you’ve worked for and the LinkedIn Alumni tool to search for former university classmates, then send InMails or customized LinkedIn connection requests. The best way to avoid any potential awkwardness with a long lost contact is to read that person’s LinkedIn profile thoroughly before reaching out, and then mention something specific in your outreach to show you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in knowing that person again. For example:
I came across your LinkedIn profile in the Intel alumni group and wanted to get back in touch. It’s terrific to see that you’ve launched your own consulting business! I remember that was a goal of yours. As for me, I’m still working in software sales and am looking to make a transition back to the East Coast. I’d love to reconnect, catch up and perhaps see if we might assist each other. Would you like to chat by phone sometime in the next few weeks?
Thanks and all the best,
Mistake 3!: Using uncommon words
Here’s an example of a mistake I see frequently: wanting to be unique and creative, an aspiring writer will create the LinkedIn headline, “Passionate and clever wordsmith.” That’s great, but when someone is looking to hire a writer, he or she is most likely to search with the word “writer.” Don’t get too fancy!
Recruiters, in particular, use keywords to find talent, so it’s important to research the keywords that a recruiter might be using to find someone with your particular skills. If you’re not sure what keywords to include in your headline and throughout your profile, scan through the job listings that appeal to you. Recruiters have likely provided you with the exact words they want. To test whether or not you are attracting the right people (including recruiters) to your profile, check out your Who’s Viewed Your Profile stats. In particular, check out the listing of keywords that people used to arrive at your profile. If you don’t like what you see, it’s time to adjust the words you are using to describe yourself.
Mistake 4!: Telling not showing
In today’s multimedia world, it’s no longer enough to have a list of bullet points on a resume explaining your fabulousness. More and more, employers want to see actual examples of the work you’ve accomplished, such as PowerPoint slides of presentations you’ve created, videos of speeches you’ve given, photographs of products you’ve designed, examples of code you’ve written and other visuals depending on your industry and job function.
It’s no secret that jobs can get filled quickly in today’s competitive economy, so don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to submit your application. In my opinion, you should apply for a position within 12 to 24 hours of discovering it. (This means, of course, that you have already invested the time in creating an All-Star-level LinkedIn profile and have drafted template cover letters that you can quickly customize for each position).
To summarize, a successful job search requires research, relationships, attention to detail and action. There are never any guarantees in a tough job market, but if you avoid the common mistakes listed above, you’re sure to be way ahead of the competition.