Within the last century, job searching and career development methods have undergone a full transformation. It used to be, back in the day, that if a person needed to apply or find a job they would have to visit the company/store/organization and complete a paper form job application. When you need to network, you would have needed to attend an in-person professional social gathering. Fast-forward to 2017 and we now have other means of communicating and job searching with other industry professionals – most notably, LinkedIn.

Build Online Resume

Creating an account is only the beginning. LinkedIn is a perfect opportunity for you to showcase your online professional story by displaying education, work experiences, skills, portfolio, memberships, or affiliations and invite recommendations from current or former colleagues. In turn, you have access to people who have a similar background as you. This is an additional step towards creating your brand and be seen as an expert in your field. LinkedIn encourages their users to be as specific as possible with regards to job descriptions, duties, and volunteer work. In addition, there’s an opportunity for your former or current colleagues to acknowledge your skills and the more endorsements you collect and/or provide others, the more visible your account will be with recruiters who share similar skillsets as you or are looking for something particular for their open positions.

Expand Network

The next step is to find connections with people you already work with. As you continue to forge professional relationships with new people, your network will expand tremendously. When you attend social networking events and meet new people, it is best to follow up and connect via LinkedIn. You never know who you will meet who might be the right connection to help your career evolve. Best practice of connecting on LinkedIn is to add a personal touch on the note section to ensure they will remember how they met you and vice versa. A personal touch adds more professionalism to an otherwise casual connection.

Follow Companies and Organizations

Look for companies you have interest in and follow them for new updates. Join and post in groups. LinkedIn has an enormous forum and group base for just about every profession and interest. This is a great way to meet others in your industry and get expert advice. Chances are, you’ll find multiple groups that are a good fit for your industry. With my recent transition into the project management industry, I found several groups to join with professionals whose interest also heavily involve project management. In these forums, you can read on what others have posted and shared regarding hot topics or you can personally post a question or interesting findings. Again, this is another way for you to network with companies and organizations virtually.

Share or Publish Relevant Articles

If there is a topic you feel passionate about, chances are you will find an audience and if you are like me, you are comfortable to share your own knowledge based on where your areas of interest lie. I’ve written several hot topic, career development related articles and shared it with my connections because there are people who may benefit from the information. I’ve also scrolled past and read through shared content from inspirational sources such as TED Talk and Forbes among many more. Chances are, you will find a lot of information guaranteeing to make your time on LinkedIn more worthwhile.

Job Search

Much like Indeed.com, LinkedIn is also another source that companies and HR personnel use to post job openings for people who are searching. The benefit of this is you can view the companies’ information directly as well as inquire further by reaching out to shared connections. Filters make it easier to locate the most relevant jobs that fit what you are looking for in terms of location, salary range, and level. Almost all job postings have an option for you to upload your resume or use your LinkedIn profile as additional credentials. Depending on your privacy settings, the majority of recruiters will view your profile and you can either be notified of this or it is kept private.

So the next time a colleague, instructor or friend asks if you are on LinkedIn, you will be more prepared to answer them and connect. We encourage you to utilize all that LinkedIn has to offer, the more you will be fully equipped on the job hunt, connected with other professionals, groups that you share common interests with, the more acquainted you’ll be with the rest of the world. Wherever you are in your professional life, just know that LinkedIn is there to ensure your career success and the opportunities are limitless.