Think of the internet as a vast ocean of fishy characters, with sharks, clownfishes and bottom feeders (attn. all internet trolls). Everyone, and their grandmother, has an online avatar overlapping, and sometimes overwhelming our analogue lives. We are a socially aware world. And the way these mediums play a role in recruitment, and hiring, has also become significant.
Today, there is a huge presence of job seekers and givers navigating the digital world to find each other. In fact, according to a 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, 78% recruiters find their best candidates through referrals, followed by 56% through social media and another 55% among interns who leave a bit of their soul behind during grueling internships.
So, even before you step in front of an interview panel, you are already beginning to bridge connections with your potential employers. Employers often passively sneak into candidate profiles, checking out what their LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc have to reveal (Read What role your social media profile plays in your recruitment). Sometimes either party actively establish contact with each other using the professional networking sites, like LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is currently the go-to source for career growth. You want to get noticed? Say cheese to LinkedIn. Based on a study by Global Talent Trends, in 2015, recruiters are 60% more likely to be engaged on LinkedIn than any other traditional recruitment process.
InMails, the ultra selective, messaging system, on LinkedIn, allows email traffic both ways. But let us concern ourselves with the job-seeking-you and lay down the rules of the game – standing out from the crowd and getting noticed by the recruiters. And what that entails is making a good first impression.
LinkedIn profile is not your family photo album. It is not your travel log, your jukebox or a graffiti wall. Invest time in making your profile look professional. And keep away from sharing, or posting, material that scream polarizing views. This is not like your other social media profiles. Unlike Facebook, where you would be stalking your ex’s photo albums, the only information you should be able to view is ones’ detailed resume – education, work and accomplishment histories. So put up a smart picture, a head shot with a nice approachable smile. You don’t want to scare away potential recruiters with a stern glare! Keep your resume updated and stay active from every now and then, posting relevant articles, year round accomplishments and group activities. Your profile should clearly represent who you are and what you want from your career – an All Star profile. A quick tip is to scour your desired employment position for specific job requirements and make it a point to have your profile address those requirements as keywords, within the various fields. Chances are your recruiter will find you, in a keyword search, way before you manage to chalk out that first email.
Build a wise set of connections. It is important to spread your wings. There is no point having just your friends on your contact list. Your network, if fortunate, may even be as close as a 2nd connect away from a potential employer. Join relevant groups and get active on them. Read articles and engage in conversations that are going on in that sphere. Visibility is a consequence of participation. So make sure to keep your friends close, but your network closer.
LinkedIn InMails are as exclusive as emails can get. They are like a limited credit reserve that you need to think before spending. There is such a thing as an InMail feedback system. Your InMail can get scored by a receiver. To have the InMail privileges intact, you should not misuse it. So, it automatically weens out I want to be your Frand requests. If you become indiscriminate in who to send your InMails to, you will be tabooed by LinkedIn for being an InMail spammer. But really, even with the premium accounts, you will only have so many attempts at reaching out. Each InMail requires a distinct period of research. Say one of your late night post-dinner-job-searches yields a catch. If the job is on LinkedIn, you can easily look at who posted it and think of a clever way to introduce yourself to him. But behold, think before you type. Research the job requirements and answer these three questions. If your InMail makes an impression, the recruiter might just visit your profile and pretty much look for answers to these questions as well, for you!
When you do send that message, make it sound like you have really thought it out. Not in the generic run of the mill I would love to work here because I am dedicated, creative, brilliant and son of Zeus sort of a form letter. Keep the quality of a cover letter, while losing the quantity of information you may usually put in a cover letter. Begin with a subject stating the position of the job posting and a title for who you are. Regarding Job Posting: 123 for Spiderman Creator. My name is Spidey and I am a radioactive spider with 3 years experience. Open with an introduction that strikes at the heart of relevance. Otherwise you may run the risk of being perceived a spammer.
Personalize your message to make a memorable connection. This is a more informal (at least to a certain extent) message than cover letters. So sound conversational and enthusiastic about the opportunity. You can even begin with a Hi Tom instead of a Dear Mr. Smith, or worse, Respected Mr. Smith. Briefly tell him your accomplishments and how you got alerted of the job posting. If you mention a referral, or that you are an active follower of the company, or groups that post about the company positions, you may come across as someone who has had a keen interest for some time. Read Professional Writing Skills.
Don’t reveal too much. Firstly, there are only 2000 characters you can write and secondly mind the attention span of the reader. And finally end with an open question that he will be compelled to respond to. Could you please let me know a good time to talk about this opportunity?
Chances are that he may never respond. However, since recruiters too have a responsibility to fill positions with deserving candidates, there is a possibility that he may reach out. Oh! Attach your resume please.
Same goes for reach-out emails as well. Sometimes job postings do come with the email of the recruiter mentioned. The added point here would be to make sure that your email handle looks professional. A good trick is to use firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t have one, open one. And on emails, close them with your full name, your LinkedIn handle and your phone number.
It is natural to ask, at this point, what if you want to reach out to recruiters for potential open positions? Well, it is possible. However recruiters usually work in the sphere of a want and not a what if. And quite a lot of them are independent, hired by employers for finding the right candidate. Some may happen to be in-house company HR. Study the profiles and structure the message as a networking opportunity for you as well as them (Read Professional Networking). Keep the message to the point, engaging, and easy. All the above suggestions of an active profile are valid here too. So make it represent someone who is serious and not simply stalking for meaningless networking.
LinkedIn is a powerful medium that speaks much louder than any resume or cover letter. Gone are the days when you had to wait to hear back from an employer. Well, thanks to the digital world, that’s not true anymore. While candidate profiles are exposed for scrutiny, so are recruiter profiles. So why not make use of the transparency instead of refreshing your inbox every 5 minutes, waiting for an interview call!
If anything, you might just points for showing the initiative.
So go ahead, Carpe Diem!