Social media is a powerful tool in your job search. The question you may be asking is how to channel all the information and connectivity that digital networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook can offer. LinkedIn Groups are a great place to start. By joining a Group on LinkedIn, you are automatically plugging yourself into a conversation relevant to your interests and connecting with other people – many of them who are hiring managers – to expand your professional network. Finding relevant groups to join is simple enough, but how do you leverage that tool to help you land your next job? Read on to find out.

Keep Your Profile Up-To-Date

First and foremost, you need to make sure you are presenting yourself in a professional and engaging manner on LinkedIn. Your profile is like your resume. It needs to be clean, concise, and current. Make sure that your summary statement is interesting to read and relevant to your current professional goals. Use keywords throughout your profile that will help attract recruiters and employers who are looking for professionals with your unique skill set. When you make connections with other professionals through your conversations online, you will want to be sure that they are reading the best and most relevant pieces of information when it comes to your job search and career.

Start Conversations

Reaching out directly to someone you want to connect with within a group is a great way to start networking. You already know that you have a shared interest and have likely engaged with them in an interesting way through the group. Adding them to your network as a LinkedIn connection allows you to make use of their professional network and can even provide a potential reference (formal or informal) in the future. So don’t be afraid to break the ice and strike up a conversation with someone who you don’t know. You never know when they might be the link you need to find your next big opportunity.

Engage Other Users

Within the group itself, there are likely many conversations going on simultaneously. The hardest part when you are new to a group is getting your feet wet. The easiest way to get past this is to just start posting. Ask questions that start interesting conversations. Link to articles that you have found to be particularly good reads. Comment on articles that other people post. The bottom line is that you need to engage other users and tempt them into conversations to build credibility and recognition within the group.

Look for Jobs

LinkedIn has a ton of really helpful job postings, many of which are not otherwise available to the public. Looking for job descriptions on the networking site should be a standard part of your job search strategy. Creating a saved search for jobs that include specific keywords can be helpful to pinpoint the ones that are relevant to your experience. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the flood of job descriptions posted on the site on a daily basis. Looking for job postings within a group feed can help you target the best and most relevant listings that you may be qualified for. Additionally, you may have already interacted with the hiring manager within the context of the group, which gives you an automatic “in.”

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