LinkedIn Tips for a Confidential Job Search

LinkedIn is the top social networking site for passive candidates who want to be found. But simply having a LinkedIn profile might draw suspicion from your current employer, so you want to be careful how you use the site.

First, find out what your current company’s policy is about LinkedIn. If there isn’t one, consider approaching your boss about the strategic value of company employees having a presence on the social networking site. As LinkedIn itself points out: “Just because you use LinkedIn doesn’t mean you’re looking for a job. Many people use LinkedIn to keep in contact with others and help them succeed in their current position.”

Your employer may even encourage development of your LinkedIn profile. Here are some reasons your company may support employees involvement on LinkedIn: 

  • Your employer’s company profile will be more robust if current employees are on LinkedIn.
  • Employees can connect with potential customers.
  • Employees can demonstrate thought leadership and expert positioning for the company through involvement in LinkedIn Groups related to the company’s work.
  • Potential candidates can reach out to current employees through LinkedIn.

Even if your company supports employee involvement on LinkedIn for business purposes, you still need to deflect being perceived as an active job seeker.  So here are some specific actions you should take on LinkedIn to support your stealth job search, while still being visible for business connections and to facilitate unsolicited job opportunities:

  1. Turn off your activity broadcasts. This is an important first step, as it will ensure that your entire network isn’t notified every time you make a change to your profile. If you don’t turn off this setting, all of your connections will receive notifications of every change you make to your LinkedIn profile. So do this before making any changes! Click here for a quick screenshot tutorial, which explains how to turn off activity broadcasts.
  2. Select who can see your list of connections. The choices are: Your Connections or Only You. Who you know is actually valuable information for future employers who are considering hiring you or searching for you on LinkedIn, so leave this as “Your Connections.”
  3. Select the type of messages you’re willing to receive. Do not click the “Career Opportunities,” “Job Inquiries,” or “New Ventures” boxes — these will show up on your Profile. However, you can check “Expertise Requests,” “Business Deals,” “Personal Reference Requests,” and “Requests to Reconnect.”
  4. Complete the “Advice to People Who Are Contacting You” section on that page. In particular, include your personal phone numbers (home and/or cell) to facilitate employment-related contacts.
  5. Manage your Recommendations. Cultivate these over time; suddenly adding several Recommendations at once may raise suspicion. So request Recommendations over a period of time (for example, one per month), so that they appear more organically.
  6. Avoid revealing proprietary information about your employer on your LinkedIn profile. You want to quantify accomplishments, but not disclose company secrets. Focus on how you’ve helped the company stand out and be successful, not how you stand out and are successful.
  7. Don’t participate in LinkedIn Groups for job seekers while you’re employed. Instead, participate in LinkedIn Groups where you might be found by recruiters or future employers. Contribute your expertise (and carefully considered comments) in job function-specific or industry Groups.
  8.  Build your network of contacts slowly. Do not send out multiple connection requests within a short period of time. If your number of connections jumps from 20 to 120 in just days, that’s suspicious to anyone who might be checking out your profile. You definitely want to get your connection number above 100. But do it over a period of time, not all at once.
  9. Do not use LinkedIn’s profile blocking feature to minimize your LinkedIn visibility to your current boss or colleagues. This will only raise red flags if they know you have a LinkedIn profile but can’t access it. (They can simply ask a friend or colleague to log into their own LinkedIn account and pull up your LinkedIn profile.) If you had previously blocked supervisors or colleagues for this reason, LinkedIn now allows you to “unblock” these individuals. Instructions and your list of blocked individuals can be found athttp://www.linkedin.com/settings/member-block-list
  10.  Don’t upgrade to the paid job seeker membership level. The last thing you need in your confidential job search is a job hunting icon on your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn is a vital tool for job search, professional development and networking. Just be sure your employer only sees the activity you want them to see.  In my next post, you’ll learn about nine big mistakes that can derail your confidential job search.

(c) Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach www.career-success-coach.com. All Rights Reserved

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    Getting Started with Twitter for Job Search

    Since Twitter’s launch in 2006, it has been emerging as robust job search tool to find opportunities and be found by hiring decision makers.Twitter can help build your online credibility as a candidate and showcase your expertise in an industry or a specific subject area.  

    Most hiring decision makers are researching candidates online before bringing them in for interviews, so be mindful of how you build your professional presence on Twitter. You may not be aware of this but all of your tweets are permanently indexed by Google.

    Here’s how to get started on Twitter and build a solid foundation for your career campaign:   

    1) Go to www.twitter.com and click “Sign Up” You’ll be asked for your name, a user name (which becomes your Twitter “handle”) and an email address connected to your account.  

    2) Choose a Twitter handle (up to 20 characters) that reflects your professional persona or even your name — whichever presents you in a positive light. Mine is @Career_Success because it’s an extension of my website: www.career-success-coach.com.  Your Twitter handle becomes part of your Twitter URL, like mine is www.twitter.com/career_success.   

    3) Build your profile at www.twitter.com/settings/profile, where you can upload a professional headshot, provide your location, and list a website (if you have one) or your LinkedIn URL.

    4) Write a compelling 160-character bio (last section of the Profile page) that reflects your professional brand. Mine is “The Career Success coach: Helping Executives, Managers and Professionals Find Perfect Career Paths Since 1991.”  

    5) Use “Twitres” http://twitres.com/ to display your resume. Simply upload a copy of your resume and it will appear as the background on your Twitter page.

    6) Find people and places to follow, such as target companies, recruiters and thought leaders in your industry. Use Twitter’s advanced earch feature (http://search.twitter.com/advanced) to locate company names and inside contacts. One of my clients found a former supervisor on Twitter; he followed him, they connected and he wrote my client a LinkedIn recommendation.

    7) Listen carefully for hidden opportunities in your Twitter feed. Hiring managers or other decision makers may mention some unmet needs or possible positions in your industry or target companies. Initiate conversations with people you follow, using the “Message” feature on their Twitter page.    

     8)  Tweet value-added posts (up to 140 characters) that convey your expertise to your network, recruiters and potential employers. You can tweet your own blog posts or links to industry-related articles. Here’s an example tweet from someone in sales: “New sales lead tracking software to replace ACT is here: <article link>”. Use http://bit.ly/ to shorten links.

    9) Open a free account with www.TweetMyJOBS.com, to access thousands of targeted jobs matching your account profile. You can also get instant notification of new jobs in your Twitter feed or on your mobile device, and be able to post (and tweet) your resume and profile to numerous recruiters and hiring managers.

    10) Go to Job-Hunt.org to get free job postings of employers who recruit through Twitter: www.twitter.com/JobHuntOrg/employers-recruiting. To see what that was like, I signed up for a trial and was amazed at the quality of opportunities offered from companies like Citibank, Hertz and Kaiser-Permanente, to name a few.

    Of course, no single online platform will ever replace the relationships you’ll build offline. Nevertheless, with so many job seekers and hiring decision makers using Twitter, it certainly makes sense to add it to your job search toolkit.  

     © 2011 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved. www.career-success-coach.com

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      The Three Biggest Mistakes Jobseekers Make on LinkedIn – and How to Avoid Them

      LinkedIn has evolved into a top social networking site where jobseekers can get found by hiring managers searching for top talent. It is also a tool for jobseekers to build credibility with their networking contacts who can recommend them for potential employment opportunities.

      Your biggest challenge on LinkedIn is to position yourself as a valuable candidate, without looking like a desperate jobseeker. If you are not attracting job opportunities through LinkedIn, see if you’re making these three serious mistakes with your profile:

      Mistake #1: “Job Search” Language in Headlines and Current Employment Status

      Common, generic examples are: “<fill-in-the-blank> Professional looking for <entry, mid, senior>-level position” [Headline] and “Actively exploring direct hire, contract, and consulting opportunities” [Current Employer].

      This type of message will be a turn off to hiring managers, like the useless resume objective: “Seeking a challenging position in a progressive organization.” Employers don’t care about what you want; they are interested in knowing what kind of problems you can solve for their company.

      Use a professional headline that conveys who you are, what you do professionally, and in which industry; but lose the “job search” wording. Instead, edit the “Opportunity Preferences” and check the box that indicates you are open to “Career opportunities.”

      If you’re unemployed, put some entries into your current employment status, to show that you’re not just sitting idle, waiting for opportunities to fall into your lap. You can list that you’re a consultant in your area of expertise (even if you’ve just started your practice) or describe a volunteer project you’re involved in.

      Mistake #2: Redundant / Repetitive Network Updates

      If you have “Status Updates” enabled, your network will be alerted every time you make the slightest edit to your profile. While these pings might improve your search engine ranking, your contacts will be annoyed with these repetitive updates, when they see that nothing major in your employment status has changed.    

      A better strategy is to temporarily turn off “Status Updates” when editing your profile. Go to https://www.linkedin.com/settings/, scroll to “Privacy Controls” then click “Turn on/turn off activity broadcasts” and uncheck the box which says: “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies.”

      When you have made an important change, click the “Share Profile” button to the right of your profile. This opens a prewritten email you can send to your contacts, notifying them that you changed your profile and would like their input. Doing so will create meaningful interactions with your contacts, without boring them with minor edits to your profile.  

      Mistake #3: Status Updates Unrelated to your Profession   

      Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective employer. When they visit your LinkedIn profile page, what will they see about what you have to offer? Will they see whatever career advice you’ve been reading, or some religious or political commentary? These types of posts or “likes” will do nothing to support your professional value, unless you are a career coach, clergy member or politician.

      A better strategy is to post information which conveys your expertise to your network, recruiters and potential employers. These can be your own blog posts or links to industry-related articles. Here’s an example post from someone in sales: “New sales lead tracking software to replace ACT is here: <article link>”. Hint: use http://bit.ly/ to shorten links.

      LinkedIn can help you make the best impression on both your network and the hiring community. If you avoid these three mistakes and follow my suggestions, you’ll go from desperate jobseeker to savvy online networker.

      © 2011 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved. www.career-success-coach.com

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        What’s Your Networking Style? Contact Collector or True Connector?

        When I started my business in 1991, I had never heard of  “networking” until a client invited me to a monthly dinner meeting of a business networking group, called “The National Network of Sales Professionals.” This group consisted of solo business professionals (like me) who shared best sales practices and leads.

        Shortly afterward, I joined this group and remained active until it folded in 1999. Besides giving and receiving referrals, I participated in fundraising projects, served as publicity chair for two years, and eventually became the group’s business manager. I am still happily connected to several people I met from this group who are clients, referral partners or friends.

        During my membership, I didn’t have high expectations that business would come my way, nor did I count the business cards I collected. I just showed up at meetings and took part in the activities. What I discovered was that referrals were byproducts of me simply being myself and having meaningful interactions with fellow members.

        My networking style has carried forward to how I conduct myself today, amidst the social media maze of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others. Both online and offline, I am mindful about the quality of my connections and the potential for relationship-building instead of treating networking like a “numbers game,” striving to amass a large number of friends, followers or fans.

        People who are only concerned with the numbers are who I call “contact collectors.” I watch them rapidly giving and collecting business cards at live events or racking up online contacts, without considering the nature of the relationships they are trying to establish. In contrast, I’m much more interested in making true connections.  

        Apparently, true connections also work for people in career transition. In February 2010 and in March 2011, CareerXroads (a staffing-strategy consulting firm in Kendall Park, NJ) revealed in their 9th and 10th Annual Sources of Hire Surveys that “Referrals are the #1 source of external hires.” What this means is that employers will hire people recommended by folks who they know, like and trust, over complete strangers.    

        If you want to build true connections, do two things: first, be selective about who is in your network; second, know the value that you can bring to each other. For example, when someone wants to connect on LinkedIn (or you’re the one making the request), ask yourself these questions:

        1. Do I know this person?

        2. Have my dealings/interactions with this person been positive?

        3. Would I be willing to write this person a recommendation?

        4. Can I comfortably ask this person for a recommendation?

        If you answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2, this person qualifies as a true connection. Questions 3 and 4 are more relevant for longer-term relationships. Either way, you can still apply this thoughtful approach to any setting where you’re meeting new people.

        Whatever your networking style might be, I can attest that being a true connector instead of a contact collector will help you build authentic, credible and solid relationships with people who will support your personal and professional goals — and vice versa.

        © 2011 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved

         

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