Looking for a job? Start marketing yourself with LinkedIn!

Sure, you may be hardworking, dedicated, and creative, but so are many other applicants applying for the same jobs as you! Even if you have a brilliant portfolio sitting in your bookshelf, it will continue to collect dust until you distinguish yourself from those other applicants.

LinkedIn is a virtual network of over 100 million professionals spanning the globe. A professional profile speaks volumes today as it helps you gain an edge over your competition. By creating an account with LinkedIn, you are more likely to gain a web presence as LinkedIn accounts rank high in search results.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn primarily allows users to engage in business and professional networking. Forget insipid apps and games like FarmVille, LinkedIn is a no-nonsense place in which to build a network of like-minded professionals.

LinkedIn makes it simple to import contacts from your email accounts, by companies or schools, and even suggests people you may know. This can include people you worked with in the past, colleagues of your colleagues, classmates and so on. By gaining just a handful of contacts you will have access to thousands of people!

When building your professional profile, details matter. Remember, your profile may be the first impression a recruiter or potential employer may have of you, so make a lasting one! You an achieve this by creating a snappy summary paragraph describing yourself. Perhaps you are a “Talented recent graduate with a passion for graphic design”? Uploading a photo of yourself, filling out your education, awards, specialties, and job history will also make you more marketable to future employers. Take your profile even further and link to your website or Twitter account.

Just like how traditional letters of recommendation can be a feather in your cap, LinkedIn allows you to request recommendations from colleagues. Recommendations can tell others that you have that special something. According to LinkedIn, “users with recommendations on their profiles are three times more likely to be found in searches.” Of course, with any relationship, you should give as well as receive, so recommend people you’ve worked with too!

Find and follow “Groups” that match your interests. You can then start or join conversations within these groups. Whatever your interests, there are groups full of experts and professionals willing to give you advice and tips on how to hone your skills or get a job in your field. Of course, these groups are also perfect places for companies and recruiters to post job openings.

With LinkedIn you don’t have to spend all of your time behind a computer. You can search for events in your area and announce to your contacts whether or not you will be attending. These are perfect opportunities to network with others in your industry, participate in fascinating discussions related to your industry, and maybe meet your future boss!

Finally, LinkedIn isn’t just about setting up profiles, you can also search for jobs by location, company, keywords, and more. LinkedIn even suggests “Jobs you may interested in”. You can help tailor these results by indicating whether results are applicable or not. That’s not all! You can even subscribe to daily or weekly emails so you are always up to date with job postings in your area.

Yes, LinkedIn may be a lot to take in at first, but it may be the best investment in yourself you can make as a job seeker. Good luck!

Christina is a freelance copywriter with experience in social media who received a B.A. in English at the University of Louisville in 2009 and settled in the United Kingdom in 2010.

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