I once wrote that LinkedIn is when Facebook and Twitter meet for coffee.

I explain LinkedIn to my clients and friends in one sentence: “LinkedIn is Facebook for Professionals only”.

It’s a social networking tool designed specifically for business professionals, companies, job-seekers and employers.

It has over 200 million members in a plethora of industries. A majority are white collar workers hoping to further their career through this enhanced networking tool.

So, how can you make the most of this increasingly popular professional networking tool? Let’s go through nine ways you can use LinkedIn to enhance your job search strategy.

  • 1. Get the word out

  • Let people know that you’re looking for a new opportunity by updating your status. This tells your network of connections that you’re interested in new career opportunities.

    This will be even better if you beef up your network with more connections – colleagues, professors (if you’re a new graduate) or former colleagues.

  • 2. Get recommendations from your colleagues

  • LinkedIn is a great resource to share your references virally. It enables you to ask your connections for recommendations and post them on your LinkedIn page.

    Having your colleagues, peers and vendors vouch for your track record can go a long way in advancing your credibility. Make sure your recommendations are not fluffy or sound fake, potential hiring authorities view solid recommendations as insights to the way you operate.

  • 3. Find out where people with your background are working

  • Scope out companies in your industry and find out which people are working there. You can even do an advanced search to see if anybody you know works for those companies.

    If there are, this is a good opportunity for you to connect with them and ask them if their company is recruiting new talent. This is a great way to tap into the hidden job market.

  • 4. Find out where people at a company came from

  • LinkedIn offers a special tool that allows you to see the career paths of individuals who’ve worked for a particular company.

    It’s called “Company Profiles” and it’s a very useful application to find out what kind of experience a company is looking for in new hires as well as job functions, years of experience, educational degree and even the university they attended.

  • 5. Find out where people at a company go next

  • LinkedIn’s “Company Profiles” tool also lets you see where people at a certain company go next, after leaving the company.

    You can track down exactly where employees go after working for one company and find out where other people go from other companies in your sector. This could help you decide which places to work for and which to avoid.

  • 6. Check to see if a company is hiring

  • You can optimize your job search by going to the company pages on LinkedIn and accessing the “New Hires” section. It lists all the people who’ve joined a company and if you’re really curious, you can ask these new employees how they managed to get their first job.

    Activate your Sherlock Holmes-like qualities to learn the backgrounds of these people, to find out what made them so attractive to the manager.

  • 7. Contact the hiring manager

  • Not only does LinkedIn provide the option of searching for jobs, but you can also see who posted the job. Pay close attention to the ones who live two degrees away from you. You may even know the person who posted the job!

    If you’re unable get in touch with the hiring manager, you can also use LinkedIn to find someone inside the company and ask them to deliver your resume to the hiring manager or HR department.

    Hiring managers are likely to pay more attention to resumes when they get it from internal co-workers. A great way to become your own headhunter!

  • 8. Find out the secret job requirements

  • Job postings rarely list all the skills a hiring manager is seeking in a new employee. LinkedIn is a great way for you to get the inside scoop on what’s required.

    To do this, search for the company name and look up the people in your network who connect you to that company. If you don’t have an inside connection, just view the profiles of the people who work for that company to get an idea of their specific background and skills.

  • 9. Find start-up companies to join

  • Widen your spectrum of opportunities, there’s always great start-up companies. You can try working for a new company especially if you’re just starting out in your job search.

    It’s a great opportunity especially for new graduates to gain some experience before jumping in with the bigwigs. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search engine and enter keywords like “start-up” in the company field.

    You can also narrow your job search by industry (e.g. start-up in Web 2.0, wireless or biotech sectors).

Keep in mind that in this day and age, professional networking tools like LinkedIn can be great assets. It’s all about marketability. So, optimize your profile, connect with professionals in your industry and get yourself out there!

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