Using Linkedin Groups to Enhance Your Job Search

With over 225 million members and 2.1 million discussion groups, LinkedIn is argueably the largest, targeted network of professionals on the planet – providing aspiring job seekers with exceptional networking and job search opportunities. Notwithstanding, most linkedin members do not take full advantage of the opportunity. One of the most powerful networking resources available to LinkedIn members is LinkedIn Groups. Registered LinkedIn members can join up to 50 groups, yet the average linkedIn member belongs to less than seven. Our recommendation? Join as many relevant groups as you can – at least while you're in the job search mode. The more LinkedIn groups you participate in, the stronger your professional network and greater your personal exposure.

Becoming an active participant in LinkedIn Groups not only helps build your professional network, it can establish you as a thought leader – a person with clear expertise or skill set in a specific field. Participating in LinkedIn Groups also builds credibility with potential employers and gets you in front of recruiters and hiring managers who are actively searching for talent.

Using LinkedIn Groups

Below we'll explore the ins and outs of LinkedIn groups as they relate to growing your professional network and enhancing your job search.

Increase Your Visibility
In a survey performed by, over 90% of recruiters interviewed responded that they were likely to review a job candidate's profile on social networks before making a hiring decision. Of those recruiters, nearly half indicated they have reconsidered a potential candidate based on what they found via their social profile - both positive and negative.

Not only is having a LinkedIn profile an important element of your social media profile, it's the most important element when it comes to your job search. Consequently, your LinkedIn profile must make a positive statement about you as a professional. Having a negative social profile, or no profile at all, just doesn't cut it anymore. A job seeker who is "invisible" online is often viewed with some suspicion by recruiters and potential employers. At best, job seekers without a social profile are going to be considered behind the times and out of touch.

The most effective way to develop a strong social profile is to develop a strong LinkedIn profile. Nearly 95% of recruiters who use social networks for recruiting, use LinkedIn. And 93% of these recruiters also use LinkedIn to "keep tabs on" potential job candidates. Even with a much larger membership (540 million), Google Plus is only used by about 18% of those recruiters who rely on social networks for recruiting.

But having a LinkedIn Profile isn't enough to create a positive impression with recruiters. You must have a well developed profile that communicates a targeted message. One key to developing your LinkedIn profile and creating a positive impression with recruiters is participating intelligently and carefully in LinkedIn Groups. By actively engaging other LinkedIn members and contributing to LinkedIn Groups you'll not only gain visibility with recruiters and employers who frequent those groups, you'll develop new professional connections that will enhance your profile and enhance your own personal brand.

Growing Your Personal Brand
LinkedIn Groups is a terrific way to communicate your brand directly to recruiters, key decision makers, and employers. It also provides a venue where aspiring professionals can position themselves as subject matter experts and industry thought leaders.

In order to use LinkedIn Groups to effectively grow your personal brand, you must first define your brand. Without a clear, well defined brand, it's impossible to use LinkedIn Groups to grow your brand. A personal brand should be geniune, specific and clearly portray who you are as a professional. If you have an extensive background in accounting, you may want to brand yourself as a financial expert. If you're career has been based on your success in search engine optimization, then you may want to brand yourself as an SEO expert. Whatever your brand, you should be able to back it up with relevant experience and/or expertise.

Once you've defined your brand, you need to make sure your LinkedIn profile accurately reflects this brand. This is imperative, as most LinkedIn group moderators will review your LinkedIn profile for relevance before admitting you to the discussion group(s) they moderate.

Now it's time to identify relevant discussion groups where you'll have opportunity to start contributing. You should join groups that contribute to your personal brand by (1) providing you an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise and (2) communicate to your profile viewers where your skills and interests lie. If you're brand includes a strong knowledge of film and videography, then the LinkedIn groups you join should be relevant to film and videography.

Remember, every comment you post and question you answer in a discussion group is an opportunity to market yourself and build your personal brand – so make each comment count. Don't make meaningless contributions or share comments that don't build your brand, or even worse, detract from your brand. Once a comment is out there, you can't take it back.

Group Participation
LinkedIn Groups are extensively used by recruiters and hiring managers to find candidates to fill specific positions. Not only do recruiters search profiles, they will join relevant LinkedIn Groups to search for professionals who may be a good fit for for their company or the client they represent.

Participating in industry and career specific LinkedIn discussion groups provides job seekers a venue where they can effectively showcase their knowledge, expertise, and ability. Provide meaningful contributions, thoughts, and insights in LinkedIn Groups and you'll catch the eye of recruiters, hiring managers, and potential employers in your target industry. However, using inappropriate language, using poor grammar, writing incoherently, and posting irrelevant (or lame) comments is also certain to capture attention – and sure-fire way to destroy your reputation.

Any seasoned professional, or recent college graduate, knows how important it is to have a resume free from spelling or grammatical errors. And you'd never considering sending an irrelevant, subpar resume to a potential employer. Just like a resume, your participation in LinkedIn Groups should represent the best you have to offer. Use LinkedIn Groups to showcase your abilities, communicate your professionalism, and show that you know how to communicate effectively.

Direct Engagement
When used correctly, LinkedIn Groups can be leveraged to increase visibility and credibility critical to a successful job search. However, one of the greatest benefits provided by membership in industry relevant LinkedIn discussion groups is the ability to communicate directly and privately with other Group members, specifically recruiters and prospective employers.

As a Group member you'll be able to send "private messages" and messages via LinkedIn's InMail directly to recruiters – and they'll be able to send messages to you. Your group membership serves as the "approved" connection you need to connect directly with thousands of other LinkedIn members who belong to the same groups you do.

Once you're group membership has been approved, you'll be able to send messages to other group members absolutely free. While InMail communications are effective, they aren't always free. As you build your professional network, connect with industry professionals, and reach out to recruiters, you'll find your membership and involvment in LinkedIn Groups an invaluable resource.

Industry Specific Job Postings
Hundreds of companies post job openings via LinkedIn Groups, especially in discussion groups that focus on networking and job search. For example, LinkedIn hosts an IT Specialist Enterprise Group with over 150,000 members. This group offers a section entirely dedicated to job postings, job search, connecting with companies that are hiring, IT job fairs and more – and LinkedIn Groups offers hundreds of industry specific and niche groups just like this one.

Niche discussion groups that have job search resources can offer more high quality, real-time job listings than major online job boards and should be considered a "must join" by any serious job seeker.

Finding LinkedIn Groups
A key element in using LinkedIn Groups to support your job search, is joining the right groups. To get started with LinkedI Groups follow these simple steps.

  • Go up to the search bar at the top of your LinkedIn profile page.
  • Perform a search for your industry – for example, Product Management.
  • Click on the discussion groups about Product Management that appear in the result, and you'll find hundreds of industry specific groups.

With so many groups, how do you figure out which groups to join? Each group that appears in the search results will have a description. It will also list the number of discussions it's had for the most recent month. If you have a well developed professional network, you'll also be able to see how many people in your network belong to each group.

In an effort to maximize your job search success, we recommend avoiding groups with few members and discussions. In order to shorten your list of results even further, we also recommend performing multiple searches using more targeted search terms, such as "new product development", "product management chicago", etc.

After you've identified a group you want to join, simply click the JOIN button. Depending on how selective a group is, it may take anywhere from 1 to 4 days before you're accepted or receive a response.

Pitfalls to Avoid
As excellent a job search resource as LinkedIn Groups is, there are several hazards you'll want to avoid. These include the following.

  • Even when you think you're having a "private" conversation via LinkedIn Groups, you may not be. Don't ever share anything unprofessional or impolite in any discussion group communication. It won't impress recruiters, hiring managers or prospective employers.
  • What may at the onset appear as a "private" comment in small group discussion can quickly become visible to a lot more people. Remember, your comments you post to a group discussion board – as small as it may be – will often become visible in your LinkedIn Update stream.
  • Again, be very careful to proof read every post or comment you make in a discussion group. Misspellings and bad grammar will quickly turn off potential employers and recruiters. This is a big problem for many LinkedIn Group participants.

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