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Harnessing professional relationships for job opportunities

Harnessing professional relationships for job opportunities

Times are tough in the current climate and many of us are facing redundancies as the industry looks to cut costs in a slowing ad market. Cristina Hoole, marketing and communications director for LinkedIn Europe, explains how LinkedIn can help users market themselves for a new job.  

LinkedIn is a business social network that allows users to promote themselves in the professional sphere, but the site also acts as a knowledge database.

Hoole explains, “We see ourselves as not only a business network, but also a knowledge network. The site allows you to collect contacts and share who and what you know.”

To have an individual profile on LinkedIn is free. However, the site is also available to brands and businesses who wish to use it as a means to recruit suitable candidates for jobs for a fee.

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn users have no qualms about sharing highly sensitive information such as work history, professional experience and contact details.

Hoole explains, “The reason our users don’t mind sharing such sensitive information on LinkedIn is because they see the site as being a means to managing their reputation online. These days, most people will ‘Google’ job candidates to find out more about you.

“If they see your Facebook profile, which can include all your personal photos and comments from your friends, they can form an impression of your character and judge you by it, which isn’t always good despending what you get up to in your spare time.”

LinkedIn guarantees that it will come up top in search results for users who customise their URL.  

“If you have a LinkedIn profile, when ever anybody searches for you the first impression they are going to get of you is your professional profile. That is something you can fully control, whether it’s your experience, recommendations or education,” says Hoole.

LinkedIn was founded by one of eight PayPal founders, Reid Hoffman. After PayPal was sold to eBay, the founders wanted to stay in touch professionally to boost further business opportunities.

Hoffman’s idea was to keep in touch with his co-founders, while also sharing the knowledge and connections he had with them.

Hoole says, “Knowledge is power, but it should be at your fingertips and you should also be able to harness it.”

LinkedIn now has an ‘Answers’ section to its site which allows users to post questions which are then answered by other users - this defines LinkedIn as not just a social network, but a community network, according to Hoole.

“There are other ‘answers’ networks, but  the people answering those questions could be anyone. If you put a question into LinkedIn, not only will you receive a number of answers, but you are able to qualify who is the person that actually responded.

“You can check their profile and even see if they are qualified to give an informed answer.”

LinkedIn’s Answers tool receives over 600 questions a day. Furthermore, those questions receive more than 3,000 answers per day.

The network currently has 30 million users across the globe and continues to grow at a rate of two million new users each month. Members represent more than 170 industries, 150 countries, and include executives from all of the Fortune 500 companies.
Over 75 per cent of LinkedIn users are university educated and 60 per cent are business decision makers in their own company, Hoole says these are the people you need answering your questions.

All of LinkedIn’s applications are designed to make its users better professionals such as Answers, recommendations, people you may know and connections.

Hoole said, “These bring the right people together and actually help you further your knowledge and your business contacts.”

In the next five years LinkedIn is aiming to target a further 150 million white collar professionals - but it doesn’t advertise.

“When you offer real value to your existing users they will not only keep coming back, but they will tell their friends,” explains Hoole, “We rely on word-of-mouth, it also ensures the quality of the product and enforces our positioning of being for those ‘in the know’.”

The professional network is one of the few companies to actually benefit from the credit crisis. It has seen surge in new users over the past couple of months with more and more people looking for ways to promote themselves as professionals in order to gain that next job.

Hoole adds, “You have to stay ahead of the game. The more you have a credit crunch, the more you have a difficult challenge  - the smarter you have to work. LinkedIn provides a platform for people to be always looking for their next move.”

Recently, LinkedIn launched new language capabilities allowing members to translate their existing profile into 41 languages. This  enables members to create multiple profiles for each language they do business with, fostering international knowledge transfer.
Kevin Eyres, European managing director at LinkedIn, said, “As we continue to expand the site into additional languages and markets, this feature will become increasingly critical for the multi-lingual and multi-national professionals among our members.
“In today’s international environment, people need to be able to interact with their professional network, no matter where in the world they may be and regardless of the languages they speak. Beyond the value this provides our users, it means the entire LinkedIn community will have access to a more global and diverse resource.”
Today business is more and more global and there is always an interest from countries outside Europe. Hoole explains, “When the credit crunch hits, it hits globally and no one is safe from it. People need to harness their global relationships for a wider prospective but also so they can increase their opportunities. People don’t just look for jobs locally anymore.”

Hoole adds that with the recommendation tool, users can get employment and personal references on their profile which can go a long way to boost their credibility.   

“To have several recommendation on your profile, whether they all be local or international, that can be very powerful and go a long way to say something about you as a professional,” says Hoole.

Between seeking advice from other professionals in your desired industries and getting recommendations from former employers and colleagues, LinkedIn acts as an online job resource just as much as it acts as a network and it might just be your next step to finding your dream job.

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