How LinkedIn Saved My Life

Okay, so it didn’t really save my life, but it definitely did pull me out of a mighty big pickle. I’ve always been a fan of social media, jumping on the Myspace bandwagon back in the day as well as DeviantArt, LiveJournal or Xanga, and then moving into Facebook and WordPress in my college years. I started dabbling in Twitter shortly after graduating from college, but that’s about where I drew the line. LinkedIn just seemed completely lame to me. I mean, what could I possibly get our of a network where all I saw were people’s resumes and recommendations and blah blah blah… So I just didn’t get one.

When I started work for New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Nashua, NH, one of my key responsibilities was to develop a social media plan and to take our sales team into the domain of using these networking sites to generate leads. Hah! I thought that was all just crazy talk, right? I started doing my research and discovered that there really were a lot of benefits to using LinkedIn for prospecting and networking with current clients. Before I could get my co-workers going, I needed to get into it myself, so I spent a week or two going through all the features and fully vamping up my profile (which I had just started 10 days before my first day). I added previous jobs & job descriptions, skill sets, a link to my portfolio, educational information, and briefly checked out the recommendations area. I did a little hunting around in groups and such and then discovered a jackpot for our sales people and, even though I didn’t know it, a future me: job postings.

For our sales people, they could find a company that was in need of someone to do X and they could offer our services to train them to do X. So, we jumped in and did the training, got everyone setup with LinkedIn profiles and links in their email signatures and they were off and running . Everything was going grand with my social media projects and all was well. Then through an unfortunate string of events including budget cuts, I was laid off.

I was completely jobless in a matter of 5 minutes with no prospects but plenty of student loans, rent, utility and other bills to pay. I jumped head first into looking for jobs using The Ultimate Job Searching Technique and searching for a job became a 24/7 thing quite literally… I would wake up around 7 or 8 each morning and would open up my computer in bed until I got hungry. I would check through apps on my phone whenever I was making food or out of the house. I spent every day in my living room searching through the same sites 2-3 times and applying wherever I could. I got a couple of interviews out of it, but my marketing skills were seemingly not needed at that time no matter where I looked. What was I doing wrong? My job search system had never failed me or anyone I knew before… What was I missing?

About one month after I lost my job, I started to notice job postings on LinkedIn filtering into search results I was making on Indeed. I decided to check it out and see what LinkedIn had to offer on the job front and was pretty surprised to see so many relevant job postings for me that I couldn’t find anywhere else. So, I started researching and boosting my LinkedIn profile into full gear for job hunting (there are some great resources out there if you do a little Google searching on using LinkedIn for job searching). I added my LinkedIn job searches into the daily routine I had developed through my ultimate technique and applied to a good number of jobs through there on a weekly basis. Within one week of this process, I had three interviews scheduled through jobs posted on LinkedIn, all with companies and positions that I didn’t feel I would be settling for and was pretty interested in learning more about. I was still slightly apprehensive about each of them and went ahead and had my interviews while also going to an interview for a job I had heard about from another online source. I wasn’t expecting much to come of them, to be honest. I thought I wanted this other job that I was interviewing for more than any of the jobs I had found on LinkedIn. And out of the three jobs I found on LinkedIn, I was completely shocked when I fell head over heels for one of them versus the job I thought I wanted. And I was offered the job within a week of interviewing.

So, here I am. A little over a month from first applying to a job at Workplace Essentials online through LinkedIn and I will have been the Social Media Specialist for their corporate office for a month on Friday. I absolutely love my job, the people I work with, the company I work for and all the things I’m learning and doing every day. I would not have found this job were it not for LinkedIn – and, for that matter, would quite possibly still have been jobless and approaching the holidays. I’ve been encouraging people left and right to get on LinkedIn, whether they are looking for a job or not, and explain to them some of the crazy benefits of using LinkedIn as a professional networking/job connection tool (as well as telling them my story).

Easy-to-print resumes
When you create your profile on LinkedIn, you allow executives who are hiring to potentially see your profile which serves as a resume (job & educational info, skills, etc.). The great part about LinkedIn? There are these wonderful Share, PDF or Print options on each profile which will create a pretty sleek and professional resume format for that viewer to share with their team and review together. If you have LinkedIn, click the PDF option on your profile and check it out – definitely neat. My current employers actually printed my LinkedIn resume before they even spoke to me.

Recommendations
References are a great bonus to any resume, but the beauty of recommendations on LinkedIn is that potential employers could actually check out the profile of the person who recommended you, see what type of capacity you worked together, and it’s all in one place yet again. Requesting and giving recommendations are also as easy as clicking a button and typing it out. Perfect.

Links to everything
Oh, you worked at ABC Company? Well, there are 3 ABC Companies near where you are, so how is a potential employer going to know which one unless you detail the address and then they can go searching for it? LinkedIn allows you to have links to companies, people, etc. right in your profile so there is no mistaking where you worked or went to school – an employer can just click right there!

The power of connections
While it may seem time consuming at first, connecting yourself on LinkedIn with people you have worked with, gone to school with, know personally, etc. can open some great options for you when searching for jobs. You can see who is connected to the company you are applying to and ask for a recommendation or that company could see who you are connected to, which can give you great kudos if they know people that you know.

If you are not on LinkedIn, jump on board. It’s not something you have to drown yourself in or spend hours a day every day checking up on. The best part of LinkedIn is that once you set it up, it pretty much does the work for you. I know people who just check in once a week or once a month and utilize things just fine. I’m currently a daily LinkedIn user mostly for my job, but it’s an excellent resource for news, connections, and (obviously) career opportunities. Hope to connect with you all soon!

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