When clients are in a job and unhappy, one of the first things I hear is fear about being “found out” that they might be looking for another job.
This means they are reluctant to start power-managing their LinkedIn presence, which is one of the massive components of your job search.
Working your LinkedIn program is essential pre-work that gets you ready for the job search, and, is a foundational element during it.
Neglecting your LinkedIn profile while you’re gainfully employed is one of the biggest career mistakes I see people make.
If you haven’t been keeping up, and your goal in 2015 is to look for another job, you might find yourself saying one of the 5 phrases below.
When you do, you’ll get blocked. You’ll just stop, because you don’t see a way around it. Any thought of changing jobs will seem like an overwhelming, unobtainable task.
To prevent that overwhelm here are the 5 things I never want to hear you say, and, a simple action tip to keep you from having to say it. Take the action and you’ll be ready to rumble when the siren call of “time for a new job” mesmerizes you!
1. I only need LinkedIn if I’m looking for a job.
Gah, this is so not true!
You’re probably equating it to “I only need to hand out my resume if I’m looking for a job.” Well, that might be true. However, LinkedIn is not a lever you switch on and off like your resume. You have no control over who chooses to view your profile or when they choose to do it.
It’s an always on 24×7 searchable billboard about who you are and what you do. You should absolutely keep your LinkedIn profile updated if you consider yourself a serious professional, and want others to do the same.
Why? It’ll keep you in sight of recruiters who want to find you. It will let others in your organization see you use a best career practice. And, it will give you practice and confidence by keep an updated, ongoing narrative about what you’re good at and what you’ve accomplished.
Action for you:
If you aren’t keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date, mark one hour on your calendar this Friday. Go back through your major projects and accomplishments of 2014, capture the highlights, and update your LinkedIn profile accordingly.
2. I have a profile but I haven’t done anything with it.
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools you have in your possession. When you don’t do much with your profile, you miss out on the opportunity to continually grow, deepen, and leverage your network.
The best time to build a network is before you ever need one. Too many people wait until they are in a job search, and then realize they haven’t done the footwork on this part. Then they become reluctant because they don’t want to look like they’re job searching (see below).
To build your network, start by building a good basic profile, connecting with others, and then offering to help them.
Action for you:
I did this webinar for college students and grads, but it’s a great basic primer on 5 steps to build a profile, and 5 steps to write a great summary. If you “haven’t done anything” with your profile, set aside 2 hours on your calendar, turn off the distractions, and get a profile built.
Note: To assuage your fears about people seeing you spiff up your profile, you can choose not to have your profile updates sent to your network. Simply go to “Edit Profile” and on the right hand side toggle the setting to “No” on the Notify Your Network Setting.
3. I never check my LinkedIn email.
I did a workshop on LinkedIn once, and the students were working on their profiles. One person who never checked his LinkedIn email found messages from potential employers in his inbox that he had never seen. Literally, he lost interview opportunities.
A good career practice would be to check email a couple of times a week, at least. I check mine daily, and it’s easy, because I have LinkedIn messages forwarded to a file folder in my inbox. I can easily control what I choose to read, and what I delete, from my primary email system.
If you can’t think of any other reason to do this, consider the karma factor. If/when you are ever looking for career advice, networking or a job, you’ll be expecting other people to check their inbox.
Action for you:
Go to the Communication tab on your “privacy and settings” page. There you can indicate what emails you do want to receive, and which you do not. People often complain about email spam, but it’s only because they haven’t managed the settings about what email they do and do not want to receive. This should take you no more than 15 minutes, and it will ensure you don’t miss messages you really should be seeing.
4. I can’t start connecting on LinkedIn or my boss will know I’m looking for a job.
First of all, what’s the big fear about your boss seeing you connect to people on LinkedIn? Why would he or she instantly conclude you are looking for a job? And what if they did find out? What are they going to do, fire you?
I’m not sure why people fear being found out. If you’re good talent, I suspect your manager wants to do everything he or she can to keep you on board. Do you know what a HASSLE it is for managers to hire new people?
I don’t care if you fear being found out. That might have worked in 2008, but these are different days.
Start connecting to everyone you’ve ever met on LinkedIn. Say you want to do some benchmarking with someone in another company, but you’ve never met them. You go to search LinkedIn, but you can’t find them.
That’s because when you search LinkedIn you are only searching the connections of your connections, out to 3 levels. A puny network gives you very limited visibility to who is on LinkedIn, and limits your ability to collaborate with them. If you do choose to pursue a job search, this will be a real handicap.
Action for you:
Start connecting with everyone you’ve ever met in your professional life. Block 15 minutes on your calendar each day, and then send out 5 connection requests to current or former colleagues. Using a drip strategy will temper any concerns about being found out, as they will happen gradually, over time.
5. I can’t ask for recommendations now, it’ll seem like I’m looking for a job.
This is said most often by people in a live job search. See my comments above.
Your best strategy is three-fold. (i) Stop worrying about being found out. (ii) Offer unsolicited recommendations to people with whom you have worked, and about whom you want to say good things, and (ii) Ask others to write recommendations for you. The best time is right after you’ve completed a project or assignment.
Action for you:
Set a goal to request 3 recommendations a week. This is because you’ll probably get about a 30% response/completion rate. For a great guide on how to request recommendations, see my post from the Degrees of Transition site. With step by step instructions, and sample verbiage, you’ll be comfortable and confident making these requests.
Ok, there you have it. Now you have no excuse for uttering any of these 5 career-defeating statements about LinkedIn. Take the action steps, and you’ll be in really good shape!