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How to get a job using a networking site

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01 February 2015, at 12:00am

JAYNE LAYCOCK reports on her ‘pick of the month’ CPD webinar, “How to get a job using the power of LinkedIn”, presented by Caroline Thomas of Sales Scene who outlined how to make best use of it

THE Webinar Vet is always looking at changing trends within the veterinary profession and one of those trends is the increase in potential employers and recruitment agencies using LinkedIn, a professional networking site, to find the right candidates for a vacancy on offer.

With this is mind, it organised a webinar discussing how vets can best market themselves to maximise their chances of being offered a job by using the power of LinkedIn.

Caroline Thomas from Sales Scene, a social media marketing company, led this webinar and started by advising vets on the importance of “the basics” when setting up a profile on LinkedIn. The key is to ensure that when a search is carried out by a recruitment company or potential employer, your name stands out from the crowd.

Having a profile consisting of a blank generic picture, a name and a job title of “veterinary surgeon” is perhaps not the best way to harness the concept of LinkedIn and unfortunately for me this is exactly what my profile looks like. The good news is that I’m not actually searching for a new job but, if I was, my current LinkedIn profile would be doing me no favours.

The basics

Caroline advises to always add an appropriate picture to your profile; the white outline of a generic figure is not the best way to catch the eye of an employer and was one of my first mistakes in setting up my profile.

The name field must, of course, be filled in but always remember to include any post-nominal letters. The next field is your “headline” and should always include your current position along with any additional specialism or experience, e.g. small animal veterinary surgeon with people management expertise. If you are newly qualified, then write “newly qualified vet” in the headline.

Underneath the headline you have an opportunity to write a summary and Caroline describes this as a “power paragraph”, giving a real opportunity to highlight your strengths and show potential employers why they should recruit you.

Caroline advises taking full advantage of this summary and to always consider other attributes as well as your veterinary skills. For example, you may have good people skills or be a creative thinker which could be used for marketing ideas within the practice.

It is standard practice to list all your work experience and once again if you are newly qualified Caroline advises adding all previous work placements with dates and any tasks undertaken whilst on work experience. Your university, dates attended, qualifications and results should also be added.

‘Super boost’ your profile

Once your profile has been created, for it to stand out from the crowd it needs to be listed above others when searches are carried out, by recruitment agencies for example.

The best way to achieve this is to “super boost” your profile by taking advantage of a set of algorithms created by LinkedIn deciding which profile is placed highest on a list of searches. Filling in the “skills” section within a profile is crucial to this process and out of 50 potential skills it is important to populate as many as possible with Caroline advising to fill at least 30.

By typing “veterinary” into the skills section, a list of skills will be suggested and can be added to your profile if appropriate. Also remember to think outside of the veterinary box and consider other attributes such as business, creative and people skills.

Once added, people you have worked with can endorse these skills involving a simple tick in a box. It is worth asking as many people as possible to endorse the skills they know you possess, as the more skills you have listed, and the more endorsements you get for these skills, the higher up the search results you will appear.

As proof of this strategy, I searched for The Webinar Vet’s founder, Anthony Chadwick, on LinkedIn who appeared at the very top of the search list. After looking at his profile it was easy to see why. Anthony has a wide range of skills listed which in turn are endorsed by a large number of people, demonstrating an impressive profile.

Recommendations are also very powerful and consist of a testimonial given by someone who has worked with you. This does require more effort by the person writing the testimonial and recommendations will need to be actively sought, but it does give employers a significant helping hand in determining who is the right candidate for the job.

Groups and companies

By joining “groups” a potential employer can tell a lot about your particular interest within a sector, and how keen you are to further your knowledge. Obviously, specific veterinary groups are useful but Caroline also advises leaving groups that are not relevant moving forward.

Following particular companies or organisations such as the BVA can also demonstrate your interests and build credibility. It is also worth following a company you would like to work with, demonstrating to them that you have done your homework and shown an interest in their business.

Making connections

Proactively marketing yourself will involve making connections to employers who you would like to work with. If you know the name of the decision-maker within a practice, then it is easy to perform a search on LinkedIn. However, if the key decision-maker is not known, it is worth performing a search for the company on LinkedIn.

Once found, most companies will list their employees and by clicking on each individual’s profile there should be enough information given regarding their job role to determine the appropriate person to connect with.

Once identified, Caroline stressed that it is important to always send a personalised message rather than an automatic connect message which can often be ignored by the recipient. By hitting connect, an option to send a personalised message should appear which allows you to write a maximum of 300 characters. When writing a message, Caroline advises to always use the recipient’s name and keep the message simple by mentioning the vacancy and explaining that you would like to learn more. This is not the right time to be pushy about your skills, which should, after all, be evident within your LinkedIn profile.

Recruitment

Not only can LinkedIn be used to find a job, it can also be used for headhunting and recruitment. By selecting the “people” option within LinkedIn and entering the keyword “vet” and placing a set mileage around your chosen postcode, the vets who fit this criteria, and are signed up to LinkedIn, will be listed, giving an opportunity to seek out the right candidates for your job.

Jobs can also be posted within LinkedIn at a cost of £190 which, and when you consider some of the fees charged by recruitment agencies, is relatively inexpensive. Once a job has been posted, LinkedIn will e-mail the details to all its members who fit the profile for your job.

Caroline discussed, in greater depth, the many benefits reaped by the use of LinkedIn, giving several working demonstrations on how to navigate your way around this site.

She also pointed out that to access all of the functionality of LinkedIn covered during the webinar, it should be done on a PC or a laptop rather than using the LinkedIn app on a mobile or tablet.

This webinar provided an excellent insight into how a professional networking site such as LinkedIn can prove invaluable, especially for those of us seeking new work, and also for new graduates who today are facing a highly competitive and sometimes daunting job market.