Friday, May 27, 2011

Leveraging LinkedIn Without Current Employer Repercussions

Optimization of your LinkedIn Profile is a step I recommend that all of my executive resume clients take--regardless of their job market status. Whether you are an active job seeker or happy where you are but open to career advancement (who wouldn't be?), LinkedIn is where recruiters are increasingly trolling for candidates. So it only makes sense to make yourself easily found by recruiters browsing the site and to impress them when they do.

You may ask: Why bother with LinkedIn if I am not actively engaged in a job search, and is it safe to use LinkedIn when I am currently employed?

Firstly, it is perfectly fine to use LinkedIn while currently employed! Secondly, may I lay the job security concern to rest: If asked about it by your employer, you are using it as a contact manager, to develop new business contacts and increase your networking ability within your current position so as to keep on the cutting edge of your industry. Simply do not check the “seeking new opportunities” box--recruiters don’t pay any attention to that anyway. (Since the passive, currently employed candidate is considered most desirable by recruiters, you may actually give yourself a bit of an edge by saying you are not looking actively.)

In case there is any remaining doubt on this, it is a fact that some companies actually now require all employees to use LinkedIn as a way of developing business relationships or bringing in new business. So don't be defensive about your presence there!

If you are a passive candidate (or an active one but don't want your current employer to know it), the message you convey on your LinkedIn profile will differ subtly from that of an open job seeker. Your summary and work experience content should be more focused on establishing yourself as an expert in your industry and field of work versus marketing yourself as a potential employee. The differences can be subtle, but if you try to read your profile from the perspective of the two audiences, you'll get the idea.

LinkedIn can be one of the more effective items in your job search toolbox. LinkedIn allows you to build a professional network, search position openings, and use their database to identify people with whom to network at your targeted companies--for free. It also gives you the invaluable capability to collect professional endorsements from past and present subordinates, colleagues, and superiors, which you can also include on your resume.

With LinkedIn now considered by many to be the #1 candidate sourcing tool used by recruiters, it is a place where you want to be highly visible. You can accomplish this by optimizing your profile to be found in keyword searches and joining and participating actively in groups relevant to your area of expertise and industry. The goal is to maximize your visibility and establish yourself as a subject matter expert in your field. Once you have done that, the recruiter inquiries will come.

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