Cover Letters and LinkedIn

What do Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook have in common with job hunting and your resume cover letters? All three of these social networking sites can create initial contacts for getting job interviews. By using social networking job search methods you can find out about job openings before they are ever advertised or posted. Your resume cover letters are about marketing and making connections with employers or individuals at companies. Social networking for job hunting is the same.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a one of the many social networking sites available online. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn allows people to connect with those they may have lost touch with or those they share similar interests with; unlike other sites, though, the largest group is businesses, who use this resource for many reasons, including advertising and job recruitment. This site is one of the fastest growing networking sites on the web with estimates of over 80 million members, is available in six languages and accessible in almost every country imaginable; there is no charge to set up a basic account, but there are some upgrades that you can purchase for your page.

The job market today, as well as the increasingly global nature of business, has led employers and job-seekers alike to try new and different methods of hiring employees or finding a job. Social networking sites are rapidly becoming the place where more and more people involving in the job market in some way or another are able to connect to people worldwide and exchange information quickly. Though not quite ready to replace online job-hunting sites or other job positing sites, social networking sites can be invaluable in both the hiring process and the job-hunting process; by not knowing about these sites, you run the risk that you may miss out on that "perfect" job simply because you did not know where to look.

Just as with any other social networking sites, LinkedIn has some unwritten (and written) rules of how one should conduct themselves on the site. One of those unwritten rules is that you should not contact anyone that you don't know personally. As with any rule, of course, there are exceptions; for example, sending a connection request to a friend of a friend who is the hiring manager for your dream company isn't considered to be "bad" etiquette, especially if that friend is one of the references listed in your profile. However, if you are sending connection requests to people you don't know on a regular basis, the site may identify you as a "spammer" and block all of your future requests, if not close your account completely. These types of connection requests are initial contacts much like job hunting cover letters.

There are two types of connections which are first and second degree connections. A first degree connection is someone you know and who knows you such as a friend, associate, former teacher or boss, and so on. A second degree connection are friend of friends, recommendations, or someone with which you have a mutual friend or associate. Connections often have information about job openings or know someone who does.

View your professional initial contacts as resume cover letters. You want to explain why you are contacting the individual, briefly describe your skills and situation, and refer them to more information such as your profile and website or publications you have written or about you. Then decide what action you want them to take. Requesting a referral person within their company to whom you might forward a resume or of they know of anyone looking for your particular skills.

Your Profile

Because this networking site is aimed at the business sector rather than personal socializing, keep your profile professional. Bad language, spelling and grammar are a big turn-off; keep your postings grammatically correct and free of punctuation mistakes.

You can also use the job search function for employers with openings. You can refine your search by location, country, or the world. In this case you commonly do not send a connection request to the company. Look for a link to the company's website or hiring page where you can complete an online application or submit your cover letters and resumes.

There are some "rules of etiquette" for these types of networking sites and some tips about how to make the most effective use of LinkedIn. See my interview questions and networking books to get the inside networking secrets for getting job interviews. Also see OneClick Cover Letters for powerful language that gets employers calling you for an interview. Copyright 2011 by Phil Baker.