How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn's New Features
They can help you get a job, find customers or build your personal brand
Over the past few months, LinkedIn has introduced several new features designed to help you find a job, attract clients and customers to your business, build your personal brand or just network. The idea is to make your experience on the site more powerful and user-friendly. I’ll walk you through three of them in a second.
The improvements are welcome news, because many users — myself included — find LinkedIn a challenging tool to navigate (and I’m a professional career coach!). It’s no surprise that the Pew Research Center recently found that 61 percent of LinkedIn users visit the site no more than every few weeks.
Challenges aside, there’s no doubt that LinkedIn is a tool that can help boost your career — often in unexpected ways. Just this week, I heard from a client who recently started a new business, updated her LinkedIn profile to reflect her new status and “out of the blue” received an inquiry from a tech firm inquiring about her services. Following a brief e-mail exchange, she was encouraged to submit a bid for a very attractive six-month consulting project. No word yet on the final decision, but it appears promising.
Of course, if you are in active job search mode, an up-to-date and consistent presence on LinkedIn is a must. According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation survey, 87 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn, far more than the 55 percent who use Facebook. And when potential employers Google you, your LinkedIn profile is typically the first thing they’ll find.
So if you’re ready to up your LinkedIn game, here are three of the new LinkedIn enhancements you’d be wise to check out:
LinkedIn’s Updated Mobile App
In December, LinkedIn rolled out a fully redesigned mobile app for both Apple and Android. The streamlined app makes it easy to quickly update your status, message contacts and respond to job postings anytime, anywhere with a user interface that is notably more intuitive than before.
That speed and ease-of-use offers a critical advantage. As Next Avenue has noted, studies show the sooner you respond to a posting, the better your chances of getting hired.
So if you’ve only used LinkedIn on your desktop or laptop, now might be a good time to go mobile, or at least add the app as an option for when you’re on the go. Briefly, the app consists of five core areas:
Your Feed That’s the content from your network (such as articles and blog posts) LinkedIn determines to be a strong match for your industry, function and topics you care about. The first time you use the app, LinkedIn asks you what type of content you are interested in; over time, you can customize your feed. This is one of my favorite LinkedIn features. I check my feed on a daily basis, and in just five minutes, I can share helpful articles with my network. It’s a small investment of time that returns a lot of value: Doing so helps me keep current and as a bonus, my connections appreciate the carefully curated content I add to their feed.
Me This is where you can see things like who has viewed your LinkedIn profile and who is sharing or commenting on your posts. Those comments can lead to interesting conversations and help build relationships with your connections. The “Me” area is also where you can spruce up, and make changes to, your professional LinkedIn profile. It’s great that the new app makes this so easy: You never know how a small tweak to your profile — like adding a key skill or posting an updated photo — can up the odds of attracting your next opportunity.
My Network It provides a daily update of what’s happening in your LinkedIn world: people you may know on LinkedIn who you might want to connect to, for instance, and suggestions on how to keep connected with members of your network (e.g. a prompt to send congrats on a work anniversary). One cool feature is that if you sync your calendar, you’ll be prompted to look at the LinkedIn profile of the person you’re meeting with that day. That way, you can see if you have any shared connections or interests that might be good to mention in your conversation or job interview.
Messaging This makes it easy to ping someone in your LinkedIn network with a quick question or continue a conversation as you would in real life. One word of advice: please use this feature cautiously. Just because you can message a potential employer doesn’t mean it is always appropriate to do so; use email until you’re instructed otherwise.
Search It lets you quickly find people, jobs and groups on LinkedIn.
For more LinkedIn app tips, check out this useful Wall Street Journal article.
LinkedIn’s Streamlined Hub
If you’re a desktop or a laptop user, you’re going to like LinkedIn’s new streamlined hub, a.k.a. central account page, that (finally) makes it easy to manage your LinkedIn account from one place.
It’s a simple, but needed, upgrade. The old interface stymied me every time I wanted to make a basic change to my LinkedIn account. As a result, I put off making needed changes longer than was wise. Now, if I need to change my password or block a user, it’s clear where I need to go and what I need to do. Or, as the top of my hub page now declares: “Nancy, you’re the boss of your account.”
To go to your account hub, sign in to your LinkedIn account, move your cursor over your profile photo at the upper right of your homepage and select “Privacy & Settings.” Once there, make any necessary changes to your account, privacy and communications settings. (Unfortunately, if you want to make changes to your LinkedIn profile, you still need to go to your profile page; to get there, just click on your profile photo).
On your hub, the “Account” area is where you can update things like your email addresses or password. “Privacy” covers all settings related to what can be seen about you. It’s the place to go if you don’t want your contacts to know that you’ve updated your profile (generally a good idea if you’re in active job search mode or don’t want to disturb your contacts every time you tweak your LinkedIn profile). “Communications” controls your preferences regarding how LinkedIn and other members can contact you.
LinkedIn’s Improved Job Postings
LinkedIn also recently enhanced its job postings to make it easier for you to figure out whether to apply for certain jobs, and if you do, how to network your way into a position or an informational interview.
Specifically, now when you go to your Jobs page from the top navigation bar, you can select a job, and then see if:
- Any of your connections work at the employer you’re interested in
- If that employer hires people with the type of skills and background you have
- Who you would work with if you get the job there
In addition, LinkedIn now has a “Meet the Team” feature, spotlighting profiles of employees in roles similar to the one you’re seeking.
All of these changes are free to users. However, Premium members (cost: $30 a month) can access the “Premium Insights” tool to gain additional insights, such as the employer’s hiring rate, which schools and employers it hires from most and the average tenure of its employees. That extra data can be useful for job seekers, so if you’re looking for work and have the cash, you might consider a trial membership. Otherwise, the free version should be more than sufficient.
One last LinkedIn tip (rant?): While all these enhancements make LinkedIn easier to use, they don’t give you license to go off-topic. LinkedIn is for professional networking: it’s not the place to share your political or religious views or personal photos. So please, keep things professional at all times. If you wouldn’t say it in a job interview, don’t post it on LinkedIn.