One of the keys to LinkedIn's success has been that it opened up a communication channel between recruiters and people in long-term employment relationships who may be looking for new jobs. Most people in this situation face a dilemma. It is usually not appropriate for them to look for new jobs openly while they are still working; those who do can lose their jobs or be passed over for promotion.
It is for exactly this reason that many people in long-term employment do not post their CV on Monster.com—a popular job-search website—in case their current company's human resources department spots it. This taboo prevents people from engaging in mutually beneficial interactions with recruiters, which can prevent them from getting better jobs.
On LinkedIn, however, you can list your educational and work achievements and open yourself up to being recruited.
Employees can use their networking activities on LinkedIn to generate benefits for their current company so they can justify their presence. As a consequence most companies do not object to their employees being on the platform.
LinkedIn has succeeded in overcoming the stigma of job seekers going on the market while still employed. This has drawn a lot of employed job seekers, who in turn have attracted a lot of recruiters to the site. The latter have paid LinkedIn a substantial amount of money to be able to access employed candidates who are very hard to find in the offline world and on other websites.
So how can you, an employed job seeker, make the best of LinkedIn to move on to your next opportunity?
Here are my five suggestions:
1. Create an all-star profile
To pique recruiters' interest, document every job you've had, every function you've performed, and every achievement you've accomplished. Include non-profit interests, languages spoken and links to presentations and publications. Don't exaggerate as LinkedIn's interconnectedness makes it difficult to get away with it.
2. Keywords, keywords, keywords
Take a close look at your Background section. This is where most people make their biggest mistake by merely describing what they do.
Put down the exact words you would use to find yourself. Then use these words to compose your description. Also, include them in some status updates because they'll probably turn up on recruiters' searches.
3. Experiment, experiment, experiment
You're unlikely to get your keywords right the first time around, so head to the "who viewed your profile" section. If your profile views aren't up by at least 50 percent, you've got more work to do.
First of all, take a look at where your viewers are located, what companies they work for and what their positions are to make sure you're targeting the right market.
Make changes to your profile, and then check to see if you're getting the new views you hoped for. Don't be alarmed if you see non-recruiters looking at you too as those views are important as well.
Head over to "how you rank for profile views" to find out who within your LinkedIn circle is attracting the most attention. Pick a few profiles that are similar but get more views and see if you can learn something from them to apply to your own profile.
4. Be a social butterfly
Many people are selective when they get a LinkedIn invite. But my research shows that people with more connections get more offers, largely because their name is more likely to show up on the first page of search results. Don't be fussy as being overly selective could work against you.
5. Forget about endorsements, but get into groups
As amazing as they sound, my research shows that people with many endorsements only get as many jobs as people with just a few. So, consider them a way to bond with your former and present colleagues — a virtual pat on the back of sorts — but don't count on them to bring in job offers.
Instead, invest time to join and participate as much as possible in LinkedIn Groups, especially ones that represent your profession.
My research shows that your contributions help raise your profile among your peers and future business associates and show up on a recruiter's search, which helps you get a job.
Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, who often goes by the name Misiek, is a Professor of Strategy and Innovation at IMD. He is an expert on why and how people use various online social platforms across the world, and how firms can successfully leverage social platforms to build social strategies. He is the author of "A Social Strategy".