When our firm is evaluating new talent to join the team, the first place that I go to online is LinkedIn. I use it as litmus test to determine how proactive a candidate is in their job search. Given that LinkedIn is the No. 1 professional social network, it is necessary for a professional to have a LinkedIn profile. It is in your best interest to make that profile 100%. LinkedIn will walk you through the steps to get your profile to 100%. At a high level this means that you will need to complete all of the sections within a profile.
One of the most important sections of a LinkedIn profile is recommendations. When I am determining whether to extend an interview to a candidate, I always check to see if the candidate has any recommendations on their LinkedIn profile. This can usually act as a tiebreaker between candidates. However, I would not use these recommendations in place of contacting a candidate's references. Recommendations might not always be authentic, so I typically only use them as part of my evaluation to determine if a candidate should get an interview. I will still contact references if we are considering a hire.
If you don't have recommendations on your profile, take the time to write a recommendation for someone else. Schedule it, whether it be once a week or once a month. In my experience, most people will reciprocate. You can also directly ask others in your network for recommendations, but I would make sure that you plan on doing the same for them.
Over the past couple of years, LinkedIn has proven to be the best source of job candidates for my company. We have tried posting our job opportunities via traditional advertising in local newspapers, Craigslist, and local industry organizations. None of those outlets provided the number of leads as LinkedIn. What makes these leads even more valuable is that they come from trusted individuals in your network. Since these leads are coming from LinkedIn, it is one of the main reasons why I go there first to view a candidate's profile.
So if you are not on LinkedIn, I encourage you to open an account now. It's free. If you have an account, make sure it is 100%. If you are 100% linked in, congratulations, but don't stop there. Continue to tweak your profile and make recommendations. Show others that you give 110%.
About the Author
N. Todd Wickersty is the founder and co-owner of Business Bullpen, a web application development, design, and marketing firm in Charlottesville, VA. Before starting his own business, Todd spent most of his career helping sales and operations teams get the most out of technology at Accenture, America Online, and Musictoday. His ability to bridge the gap between business and technology has enabled him to successfully grow Business Bullpen into a web solutions firm that clients can trust and rely upon.
Todd founded the Charlottesville, VA Chapter of the Social Media Club in July of 2009 and is currently serving as president. His firm worked with Facebook to help develop one of the first Facebook page applications for Live Nation/Musictoday in November 2007 as part of the official launch of Facebook pages. You can find Todd online at wick.me.