Everything You Need To Know About LinkedIn

Whether or not you see a new job search on the horizon, you need to get familiar with LinkedIn.

You may think LinkedIn is just another social media app, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a networking tool, a database, and a better job board. It attracts more professional and mature users (for the most part!), and it offers tools and resources that will help you grow in your career.

Now that it’s owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is constantly improving its features and ease of use to be the industry leader in career sites. This matters because LinkedIn can help you get hired faster and even automate your job search in the foreseeable future.

There are several reasons why your resume or typical job applications won’t land you a job.

  • You have major gaps in employment or a confusing work history timeline

  • You have little to no relevant experience

  • You have no college degree

  • You want to work for a specific company with few relevant job openings

Luckily, LinkedIn can help you avoid the Applicant Tracking software “black hole” and get your foot in the door at the companies you’d love to work for. If you’re still unsure about using LinkedIn, let me put your objections to rest and share everything you need to know about using LinkedIn to get a job.

Everything You Need To Know About LinkedIn | LinkedIn Tips For Job Seekers from Off The Clock Resumes

You Don’t Need A Premium Account On LinkedIn

LinkedIn has several account options: Basic (or free), Premium Career (for job seekers), Sales Navigator (for sales professionals), Recruiter Lite (for recruiters and hiring managers), and Premium Business. Granted a Premium Career account comes with a few added perks, you don’t need to sign up for a paid account to see results using LinkedIn.

With a free account, you can:

  • Create a profile filled with the keywords employers are looking for and showcasing your personality

  • Develop a large trusted network of co-workers, classmates, colleagues, family, and friends

  • Request and provide recommendations to boost each others’ profiles

  • Search for, view profiles, and connect with other LinkedIn members

  • Receive unlimited InMail messages (messages you can pay for to contact LinkedIn users who aren’t connections or in your network)

  • Save up to three searches and get weekly alerts for those searches

For $29.99 a month, plus tax, a Premium Career account will also give you: 

  • 3 InMail credits (to send to recruiters and hiring managers)

  • Insights on who’s viewed your profile in the last 90 days

  • The ability to apply for jobs as a Featured Applicant

  • Access to Applicant Insights, Salary Insights, and LinkedIn Learning

In my humble opinion, that $30 a month will be better spent elsewhere if you know how to take advantage of the free tools that LinkedIn does offer.

Your LinkedIn Profile Will Make Or Break You

Your LinkedIn profile is often the first impression you make on a recruiter or hiring manager. When you completely fill out your profile and optimize it with the keywords employers will be using to search for candidates like you on LinkedIn, your profile can either make or break your career. At the bare minimum, fill out your profile with:

  • A keyword-optimized Headline that includes your job target or career goals (You can use your current job title if it’s relevant to your career goals.) AND the value you offer employers

  • A Summary or About section that tells your unique career story, showcases your personality, encourages profile viewers to keep reading, and invites viewers to connect with you

  • An Experience section that reflects and complements the information on your resume including short summaries of your typical tasks (This is an easy way to keyword-optimize your profile!) and your achievements

  • An Education section that keeps the focus on your qualifications rather than your age or extra-curricular interests

  • A Skills section full of keywords that your ideal employer will be looking for in a candidate

  • Accomplishments such as Projects you’ve led or contributed to, Courses you’ve taken to keep your skills fresh, Organizations you’re an active member of, Volunteer Experience, Publications, etc.

With LinkedIn’s new Intelligent Hiring Experience for recruiters and hiring managers, a complete and keyword-optimized profile is more important than ever. LinkedIn may recommend your profile to employer instantly after they post a job that you are a good fit for if your profile matches the criteria they set in the job posting.

This can either automate your career development in a way or hurt your chances of getting hired if other LinkedIn members are being recommended and contacted before you even know the job is open!

LinkedIn Is Not A Social Media Site

This is a common misconception about LinkedIn. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are designed to connect people with others they know through personal posts, videos, and photos (or memes). Yes, you can post on LinkedIn but LinkedIn members should expect a different experience on the site.

LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals looking to grow in their careers. Members are encouraged to connect with family and friends first but continue to grow their networks with co-workers, classmates, and colleagues. These are the connections that could refer you to potential job opportunities that they hear about from their own networks. Growing your referral network shouldn’t stop there, though.

Using LinkedIn to target employers that you’d love to work for, engage with their Company Pages, and connect with the employees that work for these companies is a key strategy that job seekers can benefit from without a Premium account. Joining LinkedIn Groups for your college alumni, professional association, field or industry, and beyond can expose you to others who can help you advance in your career.

You Should Give More Than Take On LinkedIn

There are several ways you can boost your LinkedIn profile, and your connections play a critical role in two of those. Remember that Skills section I mentioned before? Your connections can endorse your skills with one click which gives social proof to your claims. It’s social proof because they’re vouching for you by linking their profile to yours and your skill. Your connections can also write recommendations which is another form of social proof as their profile is connected to yours through that recommendation.

There is no shame in asking those who have witnessed your skills in action or are familiar with your career goals to endorse your skills and write a recommendation; however, you should be returning the favor whenever possible and striving to help your connections grow in their careers. Be intentional by messaging the person first to ask about his or her career goals and which skills he or she could use the help boosting.

You also shouldn’t expect others to take the lead with networking. Instead of sending out dozens of connection requests and disappearing once they accept, start conversations with your new connections. Don’t passively like and share posts from your news feed, but start commenting on posts to start and get involved in meaningful networking conversations. Employers can see how active you are on LinkedIn and are more likely to reach out to LinkedIn users who are actively using the site.

LinkedIn Is Replacing Business Cards

With the user-friendly LinkedIn mobile app, there’s no need to bring business cards to networking events anymore. LinkedIn lets you set a custom URL or profile link to replace the random string of numbers automatically generated when you first create a profile. Editing your profile link to just your name (or name with location or industry if you have a common name) makes it easier for people to find you on LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn profile will also be a top result if someone Google searches your name.

As long as your privacy settings are set appropriately and your phone’s Bluetooth is turned on, the LinkedIn mobile app has a feature that helps you find and connect with other LinkedIn users at networking events or conferences. Instead of carrying around business cards, you can simply use your phone and the Find Nearby feature on the LinkedIn mobile app to grow your network offline.

I also recommend adding your custom LinkedIn profile link to your resume when there are less relevant details you can trim from your resume but are still important pieces of your overall career story. These can be detailed projects, older work experience, awards, training events, and publications. You can even add a short note to the end of your resume to direct readers to your profile for additional information (even though, they’re likely to look for you on LinkedIn anyway). 

LinkedIn Is (Slowly) Replacing Resumes

LinkedIn’s Easy Apply option for job applications and Intelligent Hiring Experience are only the beginning. Artificial intelligence and automation will continue to revolutionize the modern job search, and LinkedIn is the front-runner. LinkedIn is a networking site rather than social media, but it’s also a large database and Applicant Tracking system for employers. Online profiles are slowly but surely replacing resumes, so take LinkedIn seriously.

You can use your LinkedIn profile in place of your resume when applying for jobs online even if the job application isn’t on LinkedIn itself. Updating your LinkedIn profile frequently is now as important as updating your resume. When you use LinkedIn’s Easy Apply option, the keywords you’ve added to your profile will determine where you rank in applicants and whether or not you’ll be contacted.

Both the Easy Apply and Intelligent Hiring Experience will rely on criteria set by the job poster (details that you can easily find in the job posting itself) to narrow down the most qualified candidates. Having a clear focus and direction for your job search, targeting your LinkedIn profile to present you as the best fit for the job that you want, and actively using the networking site to grow your referral network are the essential steps to conquering the modern job search.


Even if you aren’t looking for a job right now, creating or improving your LinkedIn profile and actively using the site now will make all the difference when the time comes. You can’t look at LinkedIn the same way you look at Facebook or any other social media site. It’s a tool you can use to grow your career and should be used appropriately.

I challenge you to spend ten minutes this week updating your own LinkedIn profile and growing your network.

What are your unanswered questions about getting starting with or using LinkedIn?