Posted By: Deanna DeBenedictis

LinkedIn is a social media site with a professional slant that can provide invaluable support for your job search…But only if you use it appropriately and make sure that it provides only one component of a broad, multifaceted search strategy. While the benefits of LinkedIn are extensive and often underused, you'll also need to recognize and steer clear of some its limitations. Keep these tips in mind.

Get the Most out of Your LinkedIn Profile

First, if you don't have a LinkedIn profile, start one today. The site is free and setting up an account takes only a few minutes. Even if you need to come back over the next few days to fill out your profile, take a minute now and upload at least your name, your industry, and your location.

Why these three items first? Because once your name is available, your information can be cross-referenced by your email account, which means you'll be presented with possible connections drawn from your past and your work history. These people will also be made aware of your presence on the network and will have the opportunity to connect with you if they choose. As for your industry and location, recruiters often use LinkedIn to find candidates suited to the open positions of their employer clients. But recruiters like large applicant pools, so instead of reading five hundred profiles in detail, they tend to send a simple introductory email to all five hundred profiles IF the industries and locations of these profiles represent a match. You'll only receive these introductory emails if recruiters can find you.

Second, once you've established a profile, add the details of your job history and allow LinkedIn to send you job postings for positions that may match your background. The algorithm the site uses to do this is surprisingly sophisticated, and the more information your profile offers, the more useful these suggestions will be.

Steer Clear of These Unhelpful Moves

While LinkedIn can be a valuable job search tool and can instantly connect you to a vital web of professional contacts in your local area, it's a good idea to watch out for these common mistakes:

1. Never expect the Internet to find you a job. Social media sites can only take your career so far, so balance the time you spend in front of your screen with steps taken in the real world. After updating your profile each day, get up, use the phone, call your contacts, invite them to lunch, ask them for advice, and arrange informational interviews.

2. Don't lose patience. If you become fed up with inappropriate job suggestions or fruitless messages from recruiters, ignore your LinkedIn profile for a while. But don't shut it down.

3. Don't be a victim. The Internet is full of both opportunities and scams, so keep your eyes open. As always, be careful how you disseminate personal information or respond to requests from strangers.

Reach out to the Boston staffing pros at Fanning Personnel for help in finding a new position and using LinkedIn to support your career goals.

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