There are a few things in life that bring about extreme levels of stress, and looking for a job typically makes the list—which also includes moving, wedding planning, and way at the top, having a new child. Those are all things about which friends, family, and coworkers all usually have lots of advice to share. But since I work at LinkedIn, I’m asked for job-hunting tips more often than any others.
And since these days, more people than ever appear to be conducting job searches more casually than ever, my advice usually starts with a no-brainer: Activate the “Open Candidates” feature we launched last year. It’s the simplest way to let recruiters know you’re open to hearing about new opportunities—this way they’ll come to you—without having to publicize that fact to your whole network. And we’ve found that the millions of LinkedIn users who have done so double their chances of being contacted by a recruiter.
So let’s say you’ve already done that—now what? Here are a few additional steps to take to make sure sure you’re putting yourself in the right place, at the right time, for the right job.
1. Update Your Profile (Or At Least These Three Parts Of It)
The first thing someone does when they meet you is Google your name. They want to know as much as they can about you without having to ask. So update your LinkedIn profile with an eye to what recruiters are looking for. Even if you don’t have time for a top-to-bottom makeover, these are three boxes you should be able to tick after a quick spit-polish:
- It’s simple. Our data shows that having a standard job title on your profile (e.g. “software engineer”) rather than a cleverer one (e.g., “coding ninja warrior”), makes you 45% more likely to be messaged by a recruiter. Some experts suggest writing a more compelling profile headline, but it’s not necessarily an either/or; you can add something more personal as long as you’ve already covered your bases with a job title that’s likely to be found in a keyword search.
- You’ve included your headshot. Having a professional headshot is key to getting noticed, even after you’ve identified to recruiters that you’re open. LinkedIn members with a photo are 10 times more likely to receive an inMail message than those without one.
- Your skills are easy to find. Those few sentences in the headline and summary fields at the top of your profile make you six times more likely to receive inMail than those who haven’t bothered to fill them out—but don’t stop there. Take a few moments to list your main skills on your profile, and you’ll be 20 times more likely to get noticed.
2. Take Advantage Of Warm Leads
I’m a part of the small yet powerful alumni network for my alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, a women’s liberal arts college outside Philadelphia. About a year and a half ago, a then undergraduate at Bryn Mawr contacted me on LinkedIn. She was considering an associate product manager role and wanted advice on the hiring process. I was more than happy to chat with her, and she’s now happily employed at LinkedIn and crushing it on our product management team.
That’s the premise of “warm leads”—leveraging your network to get an “in” at your next company. This isn’t the same as securing a referral (that undergrad didn’t shoot me a note asking me point-blank to recommend her for the job), but it can often lead to them. According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends, almost 50% of companies say their top source for quality hires is employee referrals. So once you’ve checked the open feature and polished up your profile, your next step is to take advantage of your network and find things in common with your connections. Then start asking questions—about the company culture, what it’s like to work there, the hiring process, you name it.
3. Get Active, And Stay That Way
One of the most common mistakes people make is frontloading all their effort in kicking off their job searches, only to lapse shortly afterward. Job hunting takes time, and you need to stay relevant throughout the entire process. Sharing content and adding (the right) connections on LinkedIn is often all it takes. The point is simply to signal to a recruiter that you haven’t just created a profile years ago and let it lie dormant—recruiters want to know that there’s a good chance you’ll respond so they’re not wasting their time reaching out to you.
So consider occasionally publishing a quick post or update every now and then, sharing your professional point of view on industry matters—and not just on LinkedIn. Take to Twitter or Facebook to do the same, wherever it’s appropriate. This also helps you stay up to date on what your connections are doing and thinking about, whether they’re celebrating a job anniversary, or just started a new job, and so on.
If recruiters can find clear evidence that you’re active in your industry, they’re more likely to contact you, whether you’ve been at your job for five months or five years. Today, letting them (and the rest of your network) know that you’re open to considering new opportunities doesn’t actually take much heavy lifting, and it doesn’t have to compromise your current situation, either. Taking just these three steps can help you stay ahead of the competition—even if you’re wary about letting people know you’re competing in the first place.
Alexis Baird is a senior product manager at LinkedIn.