Recently I sat with a great candidate to discuss his job search. We had talked about the different resources he could utilize to conduct an effective search and to my surprise I found that my candidate was not a member of LinkedIn. I suggested how he could maximize his search by creating a LinkedIn account. I was amazed to find resistance and a strong opinion to not join one of the world's largest, most powerful networking sites. Then I realized that he was averse to joining LinkedIn due to the fact that he had a misunderstanding of what LinkedIn is. He was under the impression that it was just another social site like Facebook. I spoke with him in depth about why he should join LinkedIn and shared with him how I utilize the site as a recruiter. It is one of the sites I use on a daily basis to find candidates and prospects and I think anyone who is not utilizing LinkedIn is doing themselves a major disservice. In the rare occasion that I speak with someone who is not on LinkedIn, I give them the following reasons why to join:
1. Maximize your visibility. If you are a LinkedIn user then Congratulations! If not, recognize that your chance of being found and considered for opportunities has drastically dropped. Many VP's, Directors, Managers and every good Recruiter utilize LinkedIn for many searches and in some cases LinkedIn is used to validate your resume. A professional profile on LinkedIn with a picture and references can make the difference of you being considered for a job and your resume being tossed in the trash. Nowadays, job boards are ineffective and inundated with old and irrelevant resumes. Recruiters, like myself, turn to LinkedIn to conduct a search rather than to job boards like Monster or CareerBuilder.
2. Interview Preparation. LinkedIn is stocked full of information about companies and employees that work for those companies. As part of your interview preparation you always need to research the company. The corporate website can give you basic information about the company but LinkedIn allows you to get an understanding of the inner structure of a company. Who are the executives? What type of background do they have? Search the title of the position that you're interviewing for and look to see if there are other professionals currently in that role. What are their backgrounds? Search for the person that you'll be interviewing with. How long have they been with the company? Where did they work before their current company? What are their personal interests? Often times you can get a feel for a hiring manager's personality based off of their LinkedIn profile. For instance, if you know you are going to be speaking to the VP of Sales and when you look at her background you see bullet point after bullet point of success then you know you are probably talking to someone who is a hard-driver. Based on this information, you can get an idea of what type of interview you need to conduct and what type of energy you need to mirror.
3. Network. One of the things that you'll realize after joining LinkedIn is how small the world actually is. There is a strong possibility that you may know someone who works at the company that you are interviewing at. If not, perhaps you are LinkedIn with a contact that knows someone at that company. You may find this contact to be a distant contact but it's still an opportunity to get inside information about the company who you're interviewing with. This type of information is invaluable. Without being an active member of LinkedIn you may not be as prepared as your competition and you may jeopardize your chances of getting the job.
4. Sales 2.0. Lastly, in October of 2009, LinkedIn passed the 50 million member mark. If you are not on LinkedIn what message are you driving about your ability to adapt to new technologies and new sales methodologies? Companies these days are actually requiring that not only should candidates be members of LinkedIn but they should have a professional network that exceeds a certain number. If you're not on LinkedIn, there is a possibility you could be missing out on the next big sales job.
I strongly recommend the use of LinkedIn as a networking and job search tool. It is not a fad and a site that is a must for all sales professionals. I hope to see you there and invite you to connect with me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/brianpcasey1.