A Jobvite study last year reported that more than 94 percent of job recruiters used social media, and they listed LinkedIn as the top tool in recruiting for new hires.

Unless your head has been buried somewhere very dark, you probably already know that!

More than 70 percent of businesses reported that they planned more investment in recruiting via social media, while less than 40 percent planned more postings on online employment boards. In just three years, recruiters hiring through LinkedIn nearly doubled – from about 45 percent to more than 70 percent.

Think about that. When I first started this blog, less than half of every recruiter you talked to would use LinkedIn. Now nearly all of them do.

Still, many job seekers don’t take advantage of its strength as a job-search tool. Instead, those pesky LinkedIn invites litter their inboxes, or the profile they quickly posted two years ago remains unupdated.

The job-search market used to be based on the post-and-pray technique – post your résumé online and wait for results – but it’s evolved now to a job-seeking approach based more on relationships. Your online reputation, presentation, and appearance counts, including your connections on LinkedIn and how you are portrayed on other social media sites.

If you don’t look good online, employers don’t much care what you’re like in person. In other words, your first impression is going to be an online impression.

What are the keys to using LinkedIn effectively?

First, carefully craft and refine your message. If you fill out your profile without thinking about this, then you’re falling into the most common and dangerous trap.

What are you communicating? To whom? What makes you different? If you don’t understand the “product” you are selling to your readers, you won’t be able to explain it clearly. Make sure you narrowly focus that “target audience,” too. You’re not selling yourself to everyone, you have to sell to a specifically defined audience.

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Know what they care about.
  3. Then address those needs in your profile.


The most recent job you list on LinkedIn is auto-generated into the “title” of your profile. If you list “Website Developer” as your title, you’ll be among millions of other website developers that show up as results of a keyword search. However, if your custom-crafted message is “Caped SuperHero with Website Developer SuperPowers,” you’ll stand out from the crowd on the same search.

Put some serious time and effort into crafting your core message, and consider carefully how your target audience will view and respond to your message. If you’re looking for LinkedIn profile consulting to invest in, there are a lot of recommended LinkedIn profile writing services out there.

I offer a free six-day email course called The Missing Manual to LinkedIn Success. This course will show you exactly how to identify your core audience, with specific tips on positioning your message to get the attention of your targeted audience.

Don’t think of LinkedIn as just your online résumé.

Your online presentation and reputation are in many ways more important than your résumé.

Your online profile on LinkedIn is a digital extension of who you are, showcasing not just your employment history and your education, but also your personality, your connections, your interests, and your recommendations. A résumé can’t even come close to that!

Why pasting your résumé onto your LinkedIn page doesn’t work:

  • Employers read your résumé when you apply for a position. Your LinkedIn profile, though, is often viewed before you are asked to apply for a position.
  • The two forms of media are dramatically different. Even if your résumé looks good on the printed page, that doesn’t mean it’s going to present well online.
  • Your LinkedIn profile allows you to provide “social proof” that you can’t do with a résumé. Each item listed in your “Experience” section provides you the opportunity to display other people’s recommendations and good feedback.
  • Connections are not obvious on a résumé. A robust listing of your connections demonstrates to potential employers that you are engaged as a member of a community – a network of professionals.
  • A résumé doesn’t allow for real-time updates. You mail yours off to a recruiter or human resources manager, and you’re done. Your LinkedIn profile, however, can be updated tonight, or tomorrow, with status updates that showcase who you are and what you’re all about.

For specific tips and assistance on making the most of your LinkedIn profile, you can grade your profile using my Profile Grader app. It’s a free tool I developed to help people find the holes in their LinkedIn profile, and then put together a plan to fix it.

New to LinkedIn?

New to LinkedIn? Don’t worry, watch these 10 video lessons called, Getting Started With LinkedIn (In Just 10 minutes) on my blog. (They’re *free* by the way. )

Has any of this information changed how you might approach your own LinkedIn presence?

This is the first post in a three-part series about LinkedIn.

Part 1: Why You Should Use LinkedIn — Like Your Career Depends on It

Part 2: Who LinkedIn is for, and Who it isn’t For

Part 3: 4-Part Strategy: How to Use LinkedIn to Get the Job You Want