LinkedIn is a powerful job search tool that works well for job seekers if used correctly. Almost every hiring manager and recruiter uses LinkedIn, so it makes sense that you should be there, too, if you want a new job.
However, LinkedIn is only effective if you’ve completed your LinkedIn profile and are active on the platform.
And LinkedIn is most beneficial for job seekers who use it for networking and direct messaging, not just applying for online job postings.
Coming up, I’ll share everything you need to know about how LinkedIn works for job seekers and how to best use the website to land new job opportunities.
LinkedIn can help job seekers in several key ways. LinkedIn works by allowing you to create a profile to highlight your skills and work experience, apply to jobs directly (including using Easy Apply to submit your resume in just a few clicks), network with peers, and even directly message recruiters and hiring managers about job openings.
LinkedIn members can also upload past work examples to create a portfolio, collect recommendations from colleagues to show hiring managers why they’re a great candidate, and more.
All of these factors will help you gain job opportunities, making LinkedIn an essential tool when job hunting.
And as a former recruiter, I can tell you that I spent hours per day on LinkedIn, every day. There’s no other platform where I spent even close to as much time looking for job candidates.
Other sites can be useful too, but none are more effective than LinkedIn, for showcasing your skills, applying to jobs quickly and effectively, and networking.
If you’re only going to spend time on one job site, LinkedIn is the site to use. Job seekers who leverage LinkedIn are more likely to be found by recruiters and hiring managers in search results, and LinkedIn is where we’re searching each day.
LinkedIn works well for job seekers, but only if you know how to best use it.
After years of working as a recruiter on LinkedIn, I’m going to share how you can make the most of LinkedIn as a job search tool (without any wasted time or unnecessary steps).
First, I don’t think you need LinkedIn premium. LinkedIn users don’t need to pay to get access to great job opportunities.
What you do need is a strong profile that’ll get recruiters to message you and get hiring managers to respond when you apply to their company, so let’s start there…
First, always upload a quality professional profile picture. A LinkedIn recruiter may worry that your account is fake if you don’t even have a real photo of yourself.
LinkedIn profiles without a real photo are often ignored or distrusted and may discourage recruiters from sending a message or connection request.
Fill in all 50 skills, as these serve as keywords to help your profile rank higher when companies and recruiters search for candidates on the social network.
And pick a great LinkedIn headline that includes relevant keywords/skills for the job you want next.
There’s no rule that your LinkedIn headline has to be your exact last job title. Here are examples of great LinkedIn headlines for job seekers.
Your LinkedIn headline is one of the key profile pieces that a recruiter can see from the search results page even before they click your profile… so spend extra time optimizing this piece.
If you don’t do a good job with your LinkedIn profile headline, the hiring manager or recruiter may skip over you.
Overall, a complete LinkedIn profile will appear higher in the search results when recruiters search for candidates (often by typing relevant job titles), greatly helping you hear about opportunities and find your next position.
Here’s a complete list of what to put on LinkedIn to satisfy a recruiter/hiring manager.
Once you’ve updated and completed your LinkedIn profile, talk with the people in your network.
Or if you’re new to using the platform, connect with people you’ve previously worked with. Having a few connections will make your profile look more legitimate and will also give you access to more second-degree connections (the connections of your connections).
Your colleagues can’t help you if they don’t know you’re looking for jobs, so get the word out.
Tell your connections that you’re looking for the next move in your career, and explain a bit about what you’re interested in finding.
Don’t be demanding and don’t approach people as if they owe you help. That’s not the right way to approach networking.
However, if you simply inform people of what you’re looking for and ask if they know of any companies, recruiters, or hiring managers that may be worth talking to, you may get some great tips from your colleagues.
Send direct, targeted LinkedIn messages to start these conversations rather than broadcasting to everyone. This will typically yield better results and get you more help in your job search.
Next, reach out to a few relevant recruiters to give yourself more chances of hearing about relevant job openings.
Don’t randomly write to 100 recruiters; find a couple of recruiters who specialize in your industry, type of role, and city/area.
You can also turn on LinkedIn Open to Work to let recruiters know that you’re open to job offers or connection requests in general (without your current employer seeing).
Recruiters won’t conduct your whole job search for you, and it’s a big mistake to talk to a few recruiters and then sit back, relax, and wait for them to do everything for you.
But it’s still a great idea to have a few recruiter conversations so they’re working behind the scenes to find a few relevant job opportunities while you also conduct your own job search.
Next, it’s time to use LinkedIn to apply to new opportunities.
You can do what every other job seeker does and use the search bar, type the job title you want, narrow it down by city, and begin applying.
That’s fine/valid, but LinkedIn makes it possible to do much more.
For example, you can search for hiring managers who have posted jobs recently and write to them to express your interest.
My colleague, Austin Belcak, shared this strategy on his LinkedIn, which I’ve pasted below:
If you can identify the hiring manager for a certain job posting, you can approach them directly, by sending a connection request and mentioning the role that you saw posted.
This will help you stand out from the job seekers who apply on the company website.
You can also use LinkedIn to message hiring managers after you’ve applied to a role, to reaffirm your interest in the position and set yourself apart from other applicants.
Hundreds of people apply for each job, but how many people then find the hiring manager and send a LinkedIn message to explain why they applied and why the role excites them?
Finally, you can send out a few connection requests to hiring managers and other people at companies that interest you and simply ask for an informational interview.
If you’re not sure whether a job is the right fit, or you don’t see a relevant job posted but are interested in a certain company, it’s worth trying to connect with a few employees and just gathering additional information about the types of skills the business needs, future opportunities and hiring plans, etc.
I mentioned above that most job seekers simply search for jobs on LinkedIn by keyword and start applying.
While I don’t recommend sending hundreds of job applications per day without any thought or consideration, you can still apply to some relevant jobs quickly with Easy Apply, giving you more overall opportunities to get hired.
If you apply for jobs with LinkedIn Easy Apply, you can send your resume and apply in just a few clicks, often without a cover letter.
So this can certainly speed up the process of finding your next job.
Not every job posting on LinkedIn has an Easy Apply option, but many do.
After you’ve spent time searching for jobs, LinkedIn will be able to suggest other jobs that fit your criteria.
This is called Job Recommendations and you can access it by navigating to your LinkedIn homepage, clicking Jobs at the top of your screen, and then viewing Recommended for you jobs.
You can also create LinkedIn job alerts so that you’re notified of new job postings that fit your skills/interests.
This way, you can check back on the site less often and still not miss out when additional companies post a relevant job.
Many employers check references in your job search, because hearing what former colleagues say about you is one of their best ways to estimate what type of employee you’ll be for them.
And there’s a way to use LinkedIn to impress employers before they even ask for references.
In your LinkedIn profile, there’s a Recommendations section where connections can write a paragraph or two about your past work.
This section is almost always noticed by employers and can help you get a job offer!
Most candidates don’t have a single recommendation on their profile, so having at least one is an excellent way to stand out even before a recruiter reads your resume, looks at your skills, etc.
Ask one or two connections to write a recommendation and talk about your quality of work, attitude, or any other positive traits you bring to a position.
If you’re pursuing a specific type of new job, ask colleagues to help you highlight specific skills that will be relevant to those positions. Review recent job descriptions of roles you’ve applied for if needed.
Offer to do the same for your friend/colleague, and you’re both helping each other get ahead in your careers.
The recommendations you acquire will stay with you and benefit you for your whole career (as long as you keep your LinkedIn profile), so don’t skip this step. It’s one of the best LinkedIn tips I can share with you.
If you’ve read the list of tips above, you know the main actions I recommend you take to find a job with LinkedIn.
However, if you have more time, you can leverage the platform in other ways, too:
You can join relevant LinkedIn groups within your industry, or groups for job seekers. LinkedIn has both.
You can follow businesses in the industry you’re in, comment on some of their posts, and “warm them up” (essentially, getting them familiar with your name) before you apply for a job opening.
If you do this, then it makes sense to apply via a direct message, a connection request to a hiring manager, etc., rather than just applying online.
You can also post content on LinkedIn. You can share thoughts and knowledge on your industry, lessons and accomplishments in your recent work, and even updates about your pursuit of new jobs.
Just remember that companies and hiring managers can see everything you post on LinkedIn, so make sure to post positive, professional content.
When sharing a LinkedIn post, avoid rants, angry statements, or anything controversial or divisive, and you’ll ensure that you’re not sending any red flags to a business you want to work for.
To help you maximize your job application success rate, and overall chance of getting hired, I recommend using the following settings on LinkedIn:
Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t want to create a LinkedIn profile, and I can just apply for new jobs on other sites.”
I want to warn you against that, for a few reasons.
Not only is LinkedIn the best of the large job search engines, but many hiring managers will also search for your name on LinkedIn even if you applied elsewhere.
It’s just the fastest and easiest way for them to see your recent work history, skills, etc.
And if they can’t find you, or if they see an empty profile that doesn’t even have a profile photo or work history, they may turn to other candidates in the hiring process.
Don’t take the chance. Build a good LinkedIn profile so that you’re giving companies the right impression when they search for your name on the site.
And as a bonus, you’ll have a profile that’s more likely to appear in recruiter search results on LinkedIn.
Your LinkedIn profile will have some information that overlaps with your resume but should not be an exact copy of your resume content.
Companies quickly skim your LinkedIn profile as they search for candidates, and you need to catch their attention quickly. Your LinkedIn profile should be made up almost entirely of bullets and very short sentences, not long paragraphs.
This is becoming more and more true for resume writing as well, but it’s even more critical on LinkedIn, where companies are accustomed to quickly skimming through people’s profiles in the industry and seeing their recent work at-a-glance.
For example, you should fill out all 50 skills on LinkedIn. Doing so on your resume would look quite ridiculous, and you should aim for around 6-15 skills on your resume instead.
You shouldn’t include references on your resume, but should aim to have recommendations on your LinkedIn profile.
Finally, you shouldn’t include a headshot on your resume unless you’re in Europe or another region where it’s considered standard, but you should always include a profile photo on LinkedIn if you want to be considered for jobs and gain new potential connections.
Yes, it is recommended that you include your LinkedIn profile URL in the contact details of your resume (after your phone number, email, etc.)
A recruiter or hiring manager is likely to click through to your LinkedIn profile if a URL is provided, which is another opportunity for you to catch their attention and impress them with a professional recommendation you’ve received, your list of skills, your recent work experience, a portfolio piece, etc.
Keeping the reader’s attention for longer brings you a step closer to getting the job interview. And that’s what your LinkedIn URL can help you do.
Also, I didn’t mention this earlier since it’s not relevant to every industry, but LinkedIn also lets you upload all sorts of media to showcase a portfolio of work, whether graphic designs, PDFs, etc.
In some industries, that will help you get a new job as well.
Attachments/media are great ways to showcase past work successes and reinforce the skills you list on your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn works well for job seekers and is a must-use site if you want to find a new job quickly, since so many employers use the website in their recruiting and hiring process.
LinkedIn is the most important job board for job seekers to use.
It’s much more than a job board, too.
LinkedIn can help you message a hiring manager directly, follow up about jobs you’ve applied for, build and maintain your professional network, and showcase your portfolio, past work, and professional recommendations.
LinkedIn is a versatile job search tool and one that I’d argue you should even use after you get hired.
After landing a job, use LinkedIn to stay in touch with your connections and listen to the occasional opportunity from recruiters (who don’t mind talking to passive candidates even if you’ll only change positions for a dream job).
All of the factors above make LinkedIn an important tool when job hunting and after.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
Get our free PDF with the top 30 interview questions and answers. Join 10,000+ job seekers in our email newsletter and we'll send you the 30 must-know questions, plus our best insider tips for turning interviews into job offers.