LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for any professional in applying to a job, building a professional image, and engaging their network. This is because of the strength in the size system and its the view that it is the social networking site for professionals. However, most people are using LinkedIn incorrectly when applying to jobs.

What You Need to Know About LinkedIn for Your Jobsearch

It is important to know who is on LinkedIn before you can effectively use the system in your job search. Overall, LinkedIn has over 680 million users. The United States represents over 40% of those users and is followed by the United Kingdom (25%), Brazil (17%), China (14%), and India (11%) with all other countries in the world representing the remaining 40%. 

In the United States, over 51% of all college graduates use LinkedIn even though they represent only 25% of all people in the United States internet users. Millennials reflect 24% of all LinkedIn users. Men represent over 57% of all LinkedIn users. Four out of 5 LinkedIn members drive the business decisions at their companies – directly or indirectly. (LinkedIn)

LinkedIn reports that its use has increased by 22% in the first quarter of 2020 over the same period in 2019. This is a key statistic to know for a couple of reasons as a job seeker. More than anything it tells you that more people than ever are on LinkedIn. 

But, most importantly, there are over 20 Million jobs posted on LinkedIn. You must be a member to apply to these jobs on LinkedIn. And, each month, there is an average of 100 Million applications to those 20 million jobs. Yet, only 4 million people are hired through LinkedIn jobs each month. 

How do those people land in the 4.1% of all job applicants that land the job on LinkedIn? Keep reading to find the practices to avoid and the best practices in using LinkedIn in your job search.

The Wrong Way to Use LinkedIn Your Job Search

People use LinkedIn for various reasons throughout their careers. There is definitely value to the system beyond looking for a job. However, you must think of LinkedIn differently when using the system for your job search. Ultimately, this is because of the technology used by the recruiters and hiring managers in the hiring process which is integrated directly with LinkedIn in many different ways. So, here are the things to avoid when using LinkedIn for your job search: 

Mistake #1 – Set Your LinkedIn Profile and Forget It

The tables turned quickly from a candidate market to an employer market with unprecedented unemployment and underemployment of 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19. On average, employers are now seeing as much as a 300% increase in applications to their open positions (on and off of LinkedIn). They are also taking longer to sort through those applications because they can and in many cases have to because of the economic uncertainty. As a result, they are being more selective in who they interview and who is ultimately hired. 

To stand out in this current landscape, jobseekers not only need a strong profile, but one that is current and aligns with the types of jobs they are now pursuing. It is easy to let the updates to your LinkedIn profile sit on the backburner while juggling the new normal. But, if you haven’t updated your profile in the past 6 months then it is likely that your profile is out of date. And, if you haven’t updated the profile to complete every field in your profile or to capture all of the keywords that are relevant to your current search, then you are completely invisible.

Mistake #3 – Filling Your Profile with the Wrong Information

Recruiters use LinkedIn like a resume database to find people that fit their open positions. The talent acquisition technology that they use, like applicant tracking systems (ATS), is also typically integrated with LinkedIn to pull the data from your profile directly into fields in their database. So, if you have the wrong information or the information in the wrong place on your profile, the recruiter will not be able to find you. Worse, you will be caught in the proverbial blackhole of the ATS never to be seen by a person after applying to a job.

Mistake # 4 – Not Building Your Network on LinkedIn

People with a referral to a job are FOUR TIMES more likely to get hired than other candidates. Let that sink in. In fact, in many companies, you will automatically get short-listed for an interview if you have a referral before submitting your application. Most people randomly connect with people on LinkedIn with no real strategy. In that case, you will find yourself with a network filled with gaps of the people you know and the people you want to know. 

Failing to build a network also creates some negative perceptions about your profile. For example, fake profiles on LinkedIn are a real thing. If you have minimal connections this could signal a potential fake profile/phishing attempt. Worse, at certain levels and in certain professions, this can be a sign that the person is simply not good at what they do. Recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn to establish credibility for a candidate. So, they expect someone will be connected with a certain number of people in their industry or with certain people in order to take them seriously for the open role.

Mistake #5 – Not Engaging Your LinkedIn Network

Failing to engage your network beyond the initial connection invitation is one of the most common mistakes of people on LinkedIn. To get and give value with your professional network, you must put energy into it regularly. You cannot expect people to help you reach your career goals if you do not maintain a proactive dialogue with them. 

In the time of COVID, this has become easier than ever as more people are on LinkedIn and open to calls or video chats. So, you no longer have to go on a series of time-consuming coffee meetings or happy hours. Instead, you can have focused conversations using all types of technology to create effective dialogue that enables you to create a mutually beneficial relationship without having to post a lot of content or becoming overly caffeinated.

Mistake # 6 – Applying to a Ton of Jobs on LinkedIn

The easy apply function on LinkedIn certainly makes it easy to apply to a high volume of jobs on the system. This is a common pitfall and probably the most unproductive thing to do when applying to jobs on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn receives many of its job postings from the job board aggregator sites (i.e. ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and Glassdoor). Meaning that employers will post a job on one of those jobboard aggregators and those sites push the postings out to 100s of other job boards – including LinkedIn. The problem is that most of those sites do not pull those jobs down when they have been closed on their sites. Thus, there are a number of jobs that become stale or outdated on LinkedIn because they simply have been filled elsewhere.

Plus, the Easy Apply function dramatically changes the information that the employer sees when you apply. For a long time, this information was a severely limited version of your profile that forced the person to look at your LinkedIn profile to get the real information (and most didn’t). Although that has gotten better, the information that an employer now sees is simply not your resume. It is still pulled from your LinkedIn profile and if you have an incomplete profile or one that is not built for the jobs you are now pursuing then you will be immediately rejected (or completely ignored).

Mistake # 7 – Ignoring Recruiter

Finally, the worst thing you can do on LinkedIn is to ignore recruiters and talent acquisition people who reach out to you through the system. There really are people who use LinkedIn to find candidates and they have jobs to fill. If you ignore their message, they will not contact you again. So, in the very least, respond to the person to say thank you, but no thank you and please keep me in mind. 

Beyond common courtesy, this is important because the LinkedIn Recruiter portal gives recruiters access to see who is responsive or not on the system so that they can focus their efforts. So, if you do not respond to those inquiries, chances are pretty good that you will fall into that category of people who are not active on LinkedIn and will not be contacted.

The Right Way to Use LinkedIn to Land a Job in 2020

There are also a lot of right ways to make the most of LinkedIn in your job search in 2020. These things all make a big difference in people’s searches and we have seen people who do all of these things consistently cut the time of their job search by 50%. Here are the things that you should do now to use LinkedIn in your job search:

Best Practice #1 – Use all the Features to Regularly Update Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn has a number of fields and features to create a robust profile. As discussed above, the systems used by employers are now increasingly integrated directly with LinkedIn to pull the data directly into their databases from your profile. So, taking the time to completely fill out your profile with all of the keywords and details is critical. And, make sure that you do this at least monthly to ensure that all of the current, relevant details are on your profile.

You can go even further to make sure that the person who views your profile sees a complete picture of you as a professional. For example, LinkedIn now allows people to host a variety of media on their profile. This is a great way to showcase content that visualizes your accomplishments. This is an easy thing to do if you fall in a visual profession (i.e. graphic designer, video editing, copywriters, creative professionals, etc.). But, everyone can and does have information that they can share effectively on LinkedIn using media. For example, there are probably promotional videos created for the projects, products, or companies that you worked for. There are also presentations, pictures, articles, and other materials that you created or that others created (and that are in the public domain) to showcase your work. Take the time to find them and to embed them on your profile. This will help people to connect quickly with you and the type of work that you have done in order to want to continue the conversation. 

The second most overlooked functionality to use is the recommendation feature. These are not the skills endorsements, but the testimonials about what it is or was to like to work with you. Think about how you use reviews when shopping online. Recruiters and hiring managers are doing the same thing when evaluating potential candidates. They do this when looking at your profile directly or when using the software that analyzes your social media profiles to make determinations about whether you are a fit for their culture – regardless of whether you applied to their job on LinkedIn.

Best Practice # 2 – Build Your LinkedIn Network Strategically

As noted above, people with referrals are 4x more likely to be hired than other candidates. So, to get those referrals through employees or recruiters, you need to have a big professional network. Do this strategically to identify people that you want to know or that you already know to initiate the conversation to advance your professional goals. 

This tactic does not have immediate results, but it does work for everyone – at every level of their career from new graduate to CEO. It works because people want to help people they like. You can’t fall into that category if you don’t know the person or are only initiating the conversation to get help with a job application. Instead, think big picture about what you want and start initiating conversations with people to create authentic professional relationships.

Best Practice # 3 – Created an Engaged Professional Network (on and off of LinkedIn)

Engaging your professional network does not mean posting a bunch of content on LinkedIn or spamming people with inmails asking about a job. Instead, it means creating a plan to communicate your message consistently to people in a way where you keep them engaged in you and the relationship that they have with you. This strategy can look different for different types of people in your network. Not everyone wants or is interested in weekly messages from you. Instead, think about the people behind those connections and decide how you can cultivate the right strategy for that person so that they stay engaged in your professional network. 

Keep in mind that engagement means a balanced two-sided conversation. You can engage with people by asking them what they need or reaching out to see how you can help them. Again, everyone in your network will be looking for different ways to engage with you and have their own motivations in doing so. So, think about that as you build your strategy for engaging your network in your job search.

Best Practice # 4 – Use LinkedIn for Research

You can use LinkedIn in the same way that recruiters do to research people in your network, companies, and jobs. For example, you can use this system to find the real insights about a company, it’s culture, and the challenges of the people that work there. You can also use those job notifications to go directly to the website of the company that you may not have heard of previously to verify that the job is still alive, apply directly, and create a candidate profile to set up future job notifications from the place that looks interesting.

You can also put this information to work for you in the interview process. Taking the time to do your research on LinkedIn and to incorporate that information in your interview responses will make a tremendous difference in how you are viewed. It will show that you genuinely care about the job and the company. This is how you qualify the potential job as a good fit and how to truly stand out as a candidate.

Best Practice # 5 – Follow-up on Opportunities

Following up strategically and consistently can make or break your chances at an opportunity. Doing it incorrectly or overly aggressively can make you seem desperate or unprofessional. Alternatively, failing to follow-up shows that you do not care about this particular opportunity. 

But, the people that use LinkedIn to follow-up on their opportunities (whether formal job applications or otherwise) are the ones that build real momentum in their job search. Everyone is juggling a lot right now and that means that the job search process typically takes much longer than it ever did before. So, keep yourself top of mind by following up with potential employers and your network. This will show continued interest it will help to keep you top of mind when the timing is right.

Need Help with LinkedIn?

The Contingent Plan has a team of experienced LinkedIn profile writers and coaches to help with your job search. Schedule a free consultation today to find out how our experts may be able to help.


With years of experience in the job acquisition field, Kathy has delivered exceptional service by providing in-depth knowledge about recruiting qualified employees, and crafting the perfect resume. The Contingent Plan comprises a team of expert recruiters, resume writers, and outplacement experts—all ready to help you! Read Kathy’s blogs, and discover simple tricks and tips to help you land the job of your dreams.