When Michael Michailidis was making the transition from running his own Montreal-based social media marketing business to a more corporate role, he decided to tap into his social network.
Last February, he contacted a former classmate through LinkedIn and learned that her boss at Bell Canada was looking for a marketing program manager, a job that had not yet been posted.
"I sent him my résumé, and the next day he called me and I had an interview over the phone. And then the next week, we had an actual interview, and within two weeks I was hired," Mr. Michailidis recalled.
Having his classmate as a reference gave him a competitive edge over other candidates, he said in an interview. "You've already created that connection. You already have your foot through the door and that's the hardest part."
Whether you're using LinkedIn to find a job or to build a network, it's important to have a complete profile, said Danielle Restivo, manager of corporate communications at LinkedIn Canada. Members with at least one past position listed on their profiles are 12 times more likely to be found by employers. And adding a photo to their profiles increases their chances sevenfold, Ms. Restivo said in an interview.
"Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to showcase your skills and talents and help the right people and opportunities find their way to you," she said.
In addition to keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date, Ms. Restivo offers these tips:
Build your network
Even if you're already employed, having a strong network of people you know and trust is essential. You may be able to use those connection for references and job leads in the future. And get recommendations:A good word from those who know your work highlights your strengths, so reach out to past managers and colleagues for references you can include in your profile.
Highlight your skills
By adding relevant skills to your profile, you'll come up in search results when employers need someone like you for a project or job. Skills pages will also tell you which groups on LinkedIn you can join to learn more about that skill and jobs that require that ability.
Keep tabs on companies
When you follow a company page on LinkedIn, you'll be able to see updates on new hirings, promotions and job opportunities. By connecting with recruiters and hiring managers in your area, you'll be top-of-mind when positions open. Find connections you have in common and, if appropriate, ask them to introduce you, Ms. Restivo said.
Focus your job search
LinkedIn's job-search engine allows you to hone your search by specific companies, locations, experience levels and job functions. It also lets you see the individuals doing the hiring, as well as anyone in your network who can refer you to those people or to someone else who works at the company.
Show off your expertise
LinkedIn answers is a great way to share business knowledge by asking and answering questions on specific subjects. By demonstrating your expertise on LinkedIn, you earn recognition that helps you build your credibility, and the more points of expertise you gain, the higher you appear on lists of experts, Ms. Restivo said.
Apply for jobs
The "Apply with LinkedIn" button makes it easy to submit your LinkedIn profile and cover letter for job postings. It will also display your professional connections who work at that company, or who can introduce you to someone there, to increase your chances of being hired through a referral.
And if you're looking for work, don't forget to get the word out, Ms. Restivo said. Use your status update to let your network know. "No matter how the economy or your career is doing, having a strong network is a good form of job security," she added. "Don't wait until times are tough to nurture your network."