Job-searchers have so many online resources that it can be difficult to know where to begin. Sure, there are online job boards, but most career experts recommend networking as one of the best ways to find a good job. That’s where LinkedIn comes in. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that can be a powerful tool for job searchers.
By trade, Steven Burda is a financial consultant, but he is also one of the most connected members of LinkedIn. Burda, who is originally from the Ukraine, earned an MBA with a concentration in finance at St. Joseph’s University and a post-MBA certification in international business at Villanova University. Burda’s social media networks are so extensive, that before the 2008 presidential election, Burda said Barack Obama’s staff contacted Burda to enhance Obama’s social media presence. He shared some of his LinkedIn expertise with job-searchers.
Question: Why should every job searcher have a LinkedIn profile?.
Burda: Every person should at least have a passive resume presence online because you never know when opportunity will knock on your door. Recruiters will search for keywords, and the more you complete your profile with keywords relevant to your experience, the more easily recruiters, companies and potential connections can find you.
Question: How did you amass such a large network of connections?
Burda: Back when we lived in the Ukraine, my parents always told me it is better to have 100 friends than a 100 rubles in your pocket. Early on in my career, I was an early adapter to technologies. When LinkedIn was in its infancy, I was a young guy working in the corporate world. I started to reach out to senior executives who were on LinkedIn, even if I didn’t know them or if I had just read about them. I would just say, “I’m interested in talking to you about your career path for 5-10 minutes of your time.” And one by one, they were willing to mentor me – nothing official, sometimes just a chat on the phone, but they were inspired by my proactive approach. They would introduce me to other people, and my network grew. I realized the influence of networking, not just collecting names and contacts, but actually following up and asking questions.”
Question: How can you convey that you are looking for a job without making it obvious to your current employer?
Burda: The easiest way is to just disconnect from your boss, and just say on your profile that you are open to new and exciting opportunities. If your boss and colleagues are connected, you can just keep your profile updated, and make it as complete as possible to make yourself as visible to recruiters as possible.
Question: What does your list of contacts say about you?
Burda: Some people have a negative perception of my number of LinkedIn connections, saying that I will connect to anyone, but sometimes it’s a major benefit. Before the 2008 election, President Obama’s staff reached out to me to enhance their LinkedIn connectivity.
In general, you should focus on quality of connections, rather than quantity. That being said, if you have less than 50 connections, it shows that you are not putting effort into your profile, and recruiters will notice it. If you only connect to a small circle of your colleagues, it may also send the message that you are not really trying to network beyond your day-to-day contacts.
Question: What LinkedIn tools or features are essential for job searchers?
Burda: Actively participate in group discussions, answer questions in polls section, ask questions and be an active respondent. Someone will notice your answers and then notice you. Link to your work, your portfolio, or upload powerpoint presentations that show how you have added value to your company. Make sure your profile doesn’t have too many restrictions and it’s not too hard to contact you. Open networking brings so many opportunities.
Question: What is your advice on etiquette for requesting job recommendations?
Burda: In asking for recommendations, there is no magic formula. Tell people you are trying to step up your LinkedIn presence and you want to be more active. Ask if they can take a moment to write down what your strengths are and offer to do the same for them.