This morning I received an email from Guy Havelick with a tale of two workers who were laid off. Here’s part of his email:
I work for a large corporation. They too often play the musical chairs game with far too few chairs. Recently two good friends, excellent contributors and employees, were caught when the music stopped. One had a great network and found another job immediately. The second was not properly networked and is still struggling to start his own business.
As a good employee, as secure as I can be working for a big company, how can I provide myself a safety net? (One that I would prefer not to be forced to use.) LinkedIn seems like the best social networking tool out there. How can I use LinkedIn to be that safety net? What’s the best way to sell my reputation when I’m not yet in a position to be bought?
The effect of a good network to help you in a job search cannot be underestimated. There is a hidden job market that you don’t find on monster or other sites. These positions are filled by word of mouth referrals. There are times when what you know is important. Times when who you know is important. And often it’s a combination of who and what you know that makes the difference.
Gus also poses some questions that I would like to address from a LinkedIn perspective.
- How can I provide myself a safety net?
In today’s business climate the only true way to avoid being laid off is to be self-employed. If you work for someone, there is a degree of uncertainty regardless of your qualifications or value you provide your company. Your safety net is the ability to land on your feet and find a replacement job as soon as possible. LinkedIn can be a substantial part of that safety net. LinkedIn helps you build a large network of people who can provide access to hidden jobs and introductions into posted positions. How valuable is it that you can see a open position at a company and also see how you are connected to the hiring person or to someone who works at the company? You can even request a recommendation to be sent to the hiring person along with your resume. So the answer to your first question is to build a large network utilizing LinkedIn and face to face networking.
- LinkedIn seems like the best social networking tool out there. How can I use LinkedIn to be that safety net?
There are many different social networks available, but if I had to choose one it would be LinkedIn. LinkedIn has kept the focus on business relationships. I’ve networked in my local chamber for the past two years and I know a lot of people and what they do. I don’t know their favorite movies or bands and I don’t care. LinkedIn helps you add an extra layer of connectivity to your current relationships and to build relationships where none exists. People like to help other people; they just need to know how they can help you.
The more people you know the more likely you are to find the help you need. Use LinkedIn to create a network of resources before you need the resource. You may not know how LinkedIn will benefit you in the future, but if you build your network, you will be ahead of the game when you figure out how it can benefit you.
- What’s the best way to sell my reputation when I’m not yet in a position to be bought?
To sell anything it must have value to someone who is willing to exchange something for it. In the case of a job search you are selling yourself and the buyer is paying for it in terms of salary. Whether or not you realize it you are in a position to be bought, the only question is how tentative that position is. You have knowledge and skills you have developed that are valuable to a company. So the question becomes “How can you enhance your marketability and exposure?”.
There are several ways to do so on LinkedIn. I took a look at your profile and here are some suggestions:
- Expand your profile. You have a somewhat naked profile. You currently list some previous employment positions but you need to add some details. These details use keywords that will help you appear in more search results.You should also personalize your summary. Don’t just reiterate your qualifications. Make it a personal statement that says who you are, how you help people and how they can help you. Add in your hobbies and interests. They are another way to increase the searches you appear in.
- You need to try to build some recommendations…received and given. Many jobs on LinkedIn request that person’s applying have a minimum number of recommendations. You should strive to have at least 10 recommendations. You can request these from your current contacts. Often providing recommendations is a great way to generate reciprocal recommendations. Don’t give a recommendation to simply receive one, but it is a positive byproduct of giving referrals.
- Ask and Answer Questions. I can see that you have answered two questions and that is a start. Take it up a notch. Try to answer at least one question a week. This is where you can build additional credibility. Answer any question, but those related to your specific field are of most importance. Provide well thought out answers with details to make your point. Remember to spell check your answer before posting. Also try to post a question periodically to tap into the knowledge base of LinkedIn users. Remember each question and answer provides a link back to your profile.
- Add more connections. As your network grows your reach does as well. This will help you see more people when you conduct searches, make it more likely you have someone in your network if you ever have to respond to a job post, allow more opportunities to give and receive recommendations. There are additional things you can do to build your brand but for now this is a good start. Good Luck Guy.