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Successfully Leverage LinkedIn Groups for Your Job Search

By Harry Urschel

LinkedIn is an outstanding professional networking tool, and invaluable as a job search tool. It’s the best place to find, and be found by, prospective employers. So, avoid the major mistake of treating LinkedIn Groups like Facebook.

Recruiters, HR departments, and hiring managers use LinkedIn extensively to find people who might fit particular roles. They search Profiles and also look through relevant Group discussions hunting for people who might be worthwhile connecting to.

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LinkedIn vs. Facebook

Many job seekers have more experience with Facebook than LinkedIn, and seem to see the two as interchangeable.  This is a big mistake!  While Facebook is primarily a social application, LinkedIn is designed for your professional life.

If it helps, think of Facebook as your neighborhood barbeque and LinkedIn as your office or your job interview. LinkedIn is business; Facebook is usually much less formal.

Your entire online presence is open to being considered by potential employers in the hiring process. A Google search can uncover a great deal of your online activity.  So being careful of everything you post is very wise.

In particular, posting unprofessional and inappropriate material on LinkedIn is extremely unwise. If LinkedIn is the place to find you at your professional best, what is your usual behavior?

LinkedIn Group Participation

LinkedIn Groups are a great place to show your expertise, knowledge, and ability to communicate well with others. They are a place where you can enhance your credibility in your field or your industry. Your reputation can be built up by the way you engage, or it can be destroyed.

Discussion groups on LinkedIn are part of that as much as the Profile is. Creating a powerful LinkedIn Profile page, and then creating an unprofessional image in discussion groups is a sure-fire way to be passed over for further consideration.

LinkedIn Groups are still part of LinkedIn… a professional networking site. LinkedIn Groups may look and feel a bit like Facebook.  But LinkedIn is decidely NOT Facebook, and your participation in it must be much more professional.

That may seem obvious, however, there seems to be a disconnect for some people between their Profile and the image they project in Groups. Their contribution to some Group discussions are anything but professional.

Avoid These Behaviors

There are ample cases of people behaving poorly in LinkedIn Groups:

  • Using inappropriate language
  • Telling inappropriate stories
  • Belittling others
  • Using poor grammar or spelling
  • Writing incoherently
  • Posting irrelevant comments

If these people are not currently looking for a job, it certainly would discourage others from connecting with them, collaborating with them, or taking their advice. And, while they may not be looking for a job now, they may at some point in the future, yet their history is still available for all to see.

If they are currently looking for a job, that kind of interaction on LinkedIn can likely be a death knell to further consideration by employers.

Bottom Line

Employers will often discard a resume with spelling or grammatical errors because the resume is intended to be a candidate's best presentation of themselves, their abilities, and their professionalism. If their best effort has errors, it’s fair to assume their average effort falls considerably shorter. Behaving poorly in LinkedIn Groups causes employers to have the same reaction. LinkedIn is not Facebook!  Be very conscious of how you present yourself to other professional contacts and to potential employers.

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About the author...

Harry Urschel has over 25 years experience as an independent recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives and on Google +. He can be contacted by email at: harry@eexecutives.net