NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Most LinkedIn users probably know they can use the website to connect with professional acquaintances and view job listings, but the social network offers many other tools that job hunters can use to get ahead in their careers that they might not be aware of.
Just in 2011 alone, LinkedIn introduced a social news feature to help keep users up to date on their industry, added status updates to company pages and improved the search options for those trying to make connections on the site, all of which helped LinkedIn pass 150 million users by the end of the year.
Whether you’re one of those new users or a longtime member, chances are you’re not using the site to its fullest potential. Here are five simple steps you can take on LinkedIn to make your job search more efficient and potentially more successful.
LinkedIn Resume Creator
LinkedIn doesn’t just advertise your resume, it also helps you make one. The LinkedIn Resume Creator transforms the information you’ve put on your profile into a proper resume, using one of a handful of templates available on the site. Users can then tweak that resume as much as they want. Even better, LinkedIn creates a custom URL for the resume so you can quickly send it out to your contacts.
Use the JobInsider Toolbar
Few things help your chances of landing a job quite as much knowing someone at the company, which is why LinkedIn’s JobInsider toolbar is so helpful. Users can install the feature on their Web browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer only) and then turn it on anytime they look at a job posting online to quickly find out if anyone in the person’s LinkedIn network works there. If so, you can ask that person to pass along your resume to the hiring manager or perhaps put you in touch with the hiring manager directly.
Searching for the Right Contact
Even if you don’t have a direct contact on LinkedIn who can help you land a job, you may still be able to use the website to pinpoint the name of someone worth getting in touch with. Just go to search bar in the top right corner of the main page on LinkedIn and click on the advanced search option. From there, you will have the option to search by name, title and company. You can leave the name blank, but enter the company you want to apply for, specify the search for a “current employee” and then select the relevant job title of someone who would be in a position to help with your application (human resources, for example.) LinkedIn will then pull up a list of connections who match that description in order of how many degrees removed from you they are.
Unless you are connected to the person on LinkedIn, you won’t be able to message them directly, but you don’t necessarily need to. If it’s a second-degree connection, try looking at which contacts of yours know that person and ask if they can get in touch on your behalf. Otherwise, just their name and bio should be enough to help you locate the person on Twitter or do a little sleuthing on Google for an e-mail address. It might sound like a lot of work, but reaching out to a hiring manager or human resources person directly can be much more effective than relying on the generic e-mail listed on most job postings.
Follow Your Dream Company
Current and former co-workers aren’t the only ones you should connect with on LinkedIn. The social network also lets users follow updates from companies. This way, you can keep up with business announcements, new hires and perhaps most importantly, job postings.
Consult Your Network Stats
No, we’re not talking about the number of connections you have on the site, though it’s good to keep track of that too. If you look under the Contacts tab at the top of the page, you’ll see a feature called Network Statistics. Scroll down toward the bottom of that page, and you’ll notice that LinkedIn tracks two interesting data points: the cities where your contacts are from and the industries that they work in. It might not seem like much, but if you’re thinking about making a career or location change, this data can give you some insight on where your professional network is strongest.