4 Great Tips For Reaching Out To Strangers On LinkedIn

Last week, I received an info interview request from a total stranger as a direct message on LinkedIn. And despite my very busy schedule, I decided to take his call. Over the weekend, I asked myself, “Why did I agree?”

Let’s take his e-mail apart and put it into four essential elements so you can use them in your own LinkedIn networking communications.
First, here’s the e-mail I got over LinkedIn from J.:

Hi Joshua,
I noticed we are both connected to M. F. – how do you know M.? I first met her at J.P., and she actually photographed my wedding. Small world.
I wanted to touch base with you because I saw an open position at J.R. I thought would be a great fit for me. I’m located in Portland now, and do social media strategy for a digital marketing agency here in town.
It’s a fun role, but you know how agencies are – fingers in a lot of different businesses, but no ability to truly own a marketing program. It looks like I would be able to do that with the Marketing Communications Manager role that is posted.
Would you mind if I called you some time this week to hear about your experience at J.R. and your perspective on the marketing organization there? I’d really appreciate it.

1. Lead With Something In Common


My interviewee, J., began his e-mail by pointing out our mutual friend M.F., and although I know M.F. from my sister’s college days, what really got my attention was M.F. was the photographer at her wedding.

Now, with LinkedIn, there is a danger the first degree connection isn’t really a close friend. I went through an Open Networking phase and about 100 people in my LinkedIn network are complete strangers to me.

So don’t assume just because they’re connected, they know each other.
J. took a calculated risk. However, he mitigates that risk by further sharing a personal tid-bit…he’s married. And as another recently married guy, I can very much relate to his situation. (i.e. He has my sympathy.)

2. Get To The Point – Fast


J. wastes no time for BS or apologies. He’s writing to me because he saw an open position at a company I have a relationship with and thinks he’d be a fit.
Notice he says, “I saw an open position.” He doesn’t assume I know anything about this position. In fact, it was news to me. And so I can infer he’s not assuming I’m any kind of decision maker. I know this is going to be a purely informational interview.

Furthermore, he concludes the e-mail by re-affirming that he’s just looking to hear about my experience with J.R., the company and my perspective on their marketing organization.

My guard goes down because I know he’s not going to put me on the spot or ask me for more than just my opinion.

3. What Makes Him Qualified?


Without bragging, J. makes it clear that he’s a serious candidate, not one of those job fisherman.
He tells me he already works at an agency. And that even though he enjoys the agency, he’s looking for more. He wants to “truly own a marketing program.”

It might occur to me, after all, that if he already has a job, why is he looking to make a change? That concern is assuaged.

4. What Do You Want From Me?


He concludes his e-mail with, “Would you mind if I called you sometime this week…” meaning, I won’t have to do anything except wait for a phone call and talk to him. Sounds easy.

I would have even mentioned the exact amount of time such a conversation would have taken, “Would you mind if I called you this week for just 10 or 15 minutes?”

Other Observations


You may have also noticed…
  • The e-mail was VERY short. It took me less than 30 seconds to read it.
  • He named the position he was after by name, he did his research and I know he won’t waste my time
  • He is sensitive to and grateful for my time, “I would really appreciate it…”
The next time you are reaching out to someone new over LinkedIn, consider bringing in one or more of these elements to your message. I’m sure it will make a big difference in your response rate.

Any successful messages on LinkedIn? Share them with us in the comments section below so we can learn from your brilliance!

Don't Start a Job Hunt Until You Read This

By Gail McMeekin

I have been hearing unusual stories from clients who are job-hunting these days. So I decided to consult a few recruiters for a new perspective and their advice for gaining employment in today's world.

I first spoke with Jill Ikens, President of Atrium Staffing in Boston, which is a woman-owned staffing firm headquartered in New York City with multiple offices in New Jersey, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. She is seeing an uptick in new hires in Boston, especially in the fields of biotech, start-ups and new opportunities in human resources, especially on the benefits side, due to the constant and upcoming changes in health care laws. There is also a rising demand for human resource managers and generalists.

Jill finds that students who have worked their way through school and have solid work experience have a much better chance of finding work and are more marketable in employers' eyes. She worries that candidates often rush through their resumes without making it clear what they have to offer or taking the time to tell their personal work story. As a former teacher, Jill is often shocked by the spelling and grammar on the resumes she gets, which can ruin a candidate's chances for success. 

She advises candidates that it is imperative to do significant research on a company before an interview. Companies are looking to hire people who demonstrate uniqueness and creativity and can market themselves to match the company culture. She does see a trend towards video resumes in the future too. Jill also talked about the importance of good manners, such as hand writing notes to thank the interviewers, which job hunters may overlook.

Jill urges candidates to clean up their social media accounts of anything controversial and to be careful of what they are posting. She also recommends that job hunters complete their entire Linked In profile, including gathering excellent recommendations, as companies will be reviewing profiles very carefully. Use Twitter to follow companies where you are interested in working. Social media will give you great interview material and increased connections.

My second expert is Jenna Bayard, an Executive Search and Assessment Consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates in New York City. She has worked in the field since college. She finds that she and her colleagues are spending more time than ever coaching their candidates to communicate clearly and effectively in interviews. She says that too many candidates are talking in circles, not listening or following directions, and rambling when they are asked how they can add value to the hiring company. I mentioned that it sounded like candidates need "media training" where they can learn to speak in bullet points and synthesize information to convey quickly with impact. She agreed.

Like Jill, she says that LinkedIn In has radically changed the field of job-hunting for candidates and companies alike. She highly recommends that executives invest in the Premiere Edition of LinkedIn. She encourages people not to apply blindly for a job, but to use the LinkedIn tools to get to the hiring team. It is good to have 500+connections. She says that if you are looking for work and currently working at another job, do not fill out the Job Seeker Application, as your current employer may see it. Jenna declared that audio phone screening is dead and that companies are now using Skype or Face Time for interviews. If you have anything controversial on your digital footprint, i.e. Google, Facebook, etc. that you cannot remove; you need to address it openly with the hiring company.

Jenna says that while hiring has improved, many companies are quite gun-shy about making a poor hire. Therefore, the interview process is more complex and takes much longer. Companies are road-testing executives and digging deeply into their strategic skills, their problem-solving talents, and whether or not they match the company culture by requiring multiple interviews, more time connecting to people at the company, and more evidence that this candidate can come in as a change agent. Companies are looking to hire people who are not just going to do their job description, but demonstrate new ideas and the capacity for innovation. Job-hunting, especially on the executive level, requires lots of patience for candidates since companies keep evaluating them from all angles. Jenna says that some candidates actually withdraw from the hiring process in exasperation or because they are out of vacation time from having so many interviews with one company.

Lastly, Jean Kripton Dunham has owned Jean Kripton, Inc. in Chicago for over 25 years now. She rode out the recession and now sees lots of requests for new talent. She sees three major trends. Candidates, who lose their jobs due to a lay-off or other reason, need to completely re-evaluate themselves before they go back on the job market. They need to be certain that they have the skills required for the new workplace, especially in technology. Plus they need to update their network and understand how their field has changed and be strategic about how to sell themselves into the positions they seek.

Secondly, Jean says that companies need help getting crystal clear on exactly what kinds of competencies are needed for a posted job. Part of her job is to try to get the hiring company to zero in on real specifics. She also says that many hiring companies are still rigid about candidates in transition. For example if someone has changed jobs frequently, but can demonstrate an upward career path, that should not be held against him or her. Sometimes when people are out of work, they need to work part-time anywhere they can just to pay the bills. So candidates need a solid explanation for each career move.

Thirdly, I asked Jean about the issue of age, as people over 50 are afraid they are no longer marketable. Jean advises candidates not to make their age an issue in their communications with companies. Candidates need to convince companies that they want to make a long-term commitment and that this is not just a stepping stone job. If you are over-qualified for the job that you are seeking, you need to persuade them as to why it is a good fit for you and which specific company challenges you are excited about. Jean says, and I agree, that companies have to become more flexible in reviewing each candidate as an individual. Even if they have had a number of jobs, this candidate may be a better choice than a person who has done exactly that same job before and hasn't experienced a variety of business models and work cultures.

So, there are lots of changes in the field of work to consider before you launch a job-hunting effort. Many people are working at a workaholic pace, are out of touch with their network and their industry trends, and have not been to a conference in years. We now manage our own careers. Make sure that you are actively building your network of colleagues, in-person as well as in organizations in your industry, even if you have a job today. You may not have a job next week. Marketing yourself is no longer an optional skill-set in the 21st century. You need a portfolio of skills and evidence that you can exceed the demands of a job, visibility in your field thorough speaking, blogging or being active in associations, and a daily marketing plan for finding the best company match for you. Good luck!


7 Things You Need to Know About LinkedIn Search

You’ve built your LinkedIn profile, updated your work experience and education and you’re all set to launch your job search, land new clients and/or grow your business. But how do you stand out from LinkedIn’s 200 Million other members? How do you make sure that people and opportunities can actually find you? It all comes down to knowing more about the search algorithm and optimizing your LinkedIn profile accordingly. Here are seven things you need to know about LinkedIn Search…

1. LinkedIn’s Search Algorithm likes connections and profile completeness.

When people search LinkedIn, the results are, by default, sorted by “Relevance” – which is code for “LinkedIn’s Proprietary Search Algorithm.” (Hat tip to Andy Headworth of Sirona Consulting for summing it up so beautifully.) “Relevance” sorts by the following criteria:
  • 1st level connections with profiles that are 100% complete (or close to it) and have the most in-common connections / shared groups, ranked in descending order
  • 1st level connections with the fewest in-common connections / shared groups, ranked in descending order by profile completeness
  • 2nd level connections ranked in descending order by profile completeness
  • 3nd level connections ranked in descending order by profile completeness
  • Shared group members (outside of your network), ranked in descending order by profile completeness
  • Everyone else (those outside your network), ranked in descending order by profile completeness
So what does this mean to you and me? Because this is the default for search results and the vast majority of people aren’t even aware that they can change it, it’s extra important to a) be a 1st degree connection to as many people as possible (i.e., grow that network!) and b) have a profile that’s 100% complete. This means including a profile picture, a professional headline, your last two jobs, etc. LinkedIn will walk you through the process and let you know once your profile is 100% complete. Anything less than 100% completeness is not only hurting you from a search ranking perspective, it’s also less-than-impressive to anyone who happens to read your profile.

2. Keywords in certain sections rank higher.

A LinkedIn profile has many different sections, but LinkedIn’s Search Algorithm likes some of them better than others. Keywords in your Name, Headline, Company Name, Job Title and Skills rank higher in the search results. This is why it’s so important to have a 100% complete profile. If these key fields are blank or filled with generic terms, then you fall to the bottom of the search rankings. Think about which search terms are most important and relevant for your business / career and then search LinkedIn for those keywords. If you don’t show up on the first page of results, update these key sections (Headline, Job Title, Skills) to include those relevant terms and then search again. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you shoot up the ranks! (Side note: LinkedIn allows you to choose up to 50 Skills. If you’ve selected anything less than 50, you’re putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage. Why give your competition a free head-start in the race?)

3. Using all fields/options available to you will give you an extra advantage.

Like Skills, you can join up to 50 groups (not counting subgroups!), so take advantage of every opportunity offered to you and use all 50 spots. You have 120 characters available to you for your headline. Use as many of them as possible to create a descriptive, interesting and keyword-rich headline that attracts lots of targets to view your profile. You have 2000 characters for your summary… use them! There are 1000 characters available for your interests… the list goes on. Make full use of the fields and sections available to you to paint a detailed picture, reinforce your brand and make your profile really work for you!

4. Keywords in the “Advice for Contacting So-And-So” section don’t rank at all.

Sorry, but placing keywords in your contact section does nothing since this section is excluded from LinkedIn Search. Use this space to tell people the best way to reach you (hint: definitely include a phone number and/or email address if you REALLY want to be contacted… why hide? You don’t leave it off of your resume or business card, do you?) and place those keywords elsewhere in your profile.

5. Using a variety of keywords that mean the same thing will help you be found.

Think about all of the different ways of saying the same thing and be varied in your language when writing your profile. Maybe you’re a recruiter… There are so many different ways of saying the same thing: recruiter, recruiting, recruitment, sourcer, sourcing, staffing, talent, search, headhunter, etc. If you’re not using a variety of terms and keywords, then you may not show up in search results. Use these terms throughout your LinkedIn profile in meaningful sentences… Do NOT just keyword stuff them into your profile in one big run-on sentence of nothingness. Use them in the correct context so that the terms are meaningful and won’t turn off your audience once they arrive at your profile. A spammy profile, even if it turns up at the top of search results, is never good for your personal or professional brand.

6. Search Trends can show you the effectiveness of your search strategies.

LinkedIn allows you to see your Search Trends - how many times you’ve shown up in search results and how many people have viewed your profile over the past three months. (Click on “Your Profile Has Been Viewed by x People” on your home page and look at the chart in the top right corner.) Take advantage of this information to make changes and monitor the results. Are you showing up a lot in search results but not being viewed much? Maybe it’s time to update that profile pic and/or professional headline to be more enticing (since that’s what people see in the search results before deciding whether or not to click on your profile to view it).

Make your profile interesting and compelling to attract more viewers. Maybe you’re showing up in lots of search results but you’re buried on Page 9 and that’s why people aren’t clicking on your profile to view it. Grow your network and optimize your profile to improve your results in both of these categories – search results AND profile views!

7. SEO benefits extend beyond LinkedIn.

An optimized LinkedIn profile can have far-reaching effects.  BrandYourself recently analyzed 100,000 profiles and found that LinkedIn was the social network MOST often appearing at the top of Google search results. This means that opportunities (job offers, clients, business deals, etc.) could be pouring in from both LinkedIn as well as external searches from the web. Make sure that your profile is optimized to bring opportunities your way and to be sure that your audience likes what they see when they get there!

The amount and type of data stored by LinkedIn is mind-boggling when you really think about it and there are infinite ways to slice it and dice it. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer, client or future employer and search away… How do YOU look? Can they even FIND you? Now you’ve got the knowledge to make those changes and use LinkedIn’s powerful search tools to your full advantage!

This post originally appeared here:


Insider secrets revealed…recruiting explained in numbers

As a professor and a corporate recruiting strategist, I can tell you that very few applicants truly understand the corporate recruiting process. Most people looking for a job approach it with little factual knowledge. That is a huge mistake. A superior approach is to instead analyze it carefully, because data can help you understand why so many applicants simply can’t land a job. If you can bear with me for a few quick minutes, I can show you using numbers where the job-search “roadblocks” are and how that data-supported insight can help you easily double your chances of landing an interview and a job.

Your Resume Will Face a Lot of Competition

Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening. Finding a position opening late can’t help your chances because the first resume is received within 200 seconds after a position is posted. If you post your resume online on a major job site like Monster so that a recruiter can find it, you are facing stiff competition because 427,000 other resumes are posted on Monster alone each and every week (BeHiring).

Understanding the Hiring “Funnel” can Help You Gauge Your Chances

In recruiting, we have what is known as a “hiring funnel” or yield model for every job which helps recruiting leaders understand how many total applications they need to generate in order to get a single hire. As an applicant, this funnel reveals your chances of success at each step of the hiring process. For the specific case of an online job posting, on average, 1,000 individuals will see a job post, 200 will begin the application process, 100 will complete the application, 75 of those 100 resumes will be screened out by either the ATS or a recruiter, 25 resumes will be seen by the hiring manager, 4 to 6 will be invited for an interview, 1 to 3 of them will be invited back for final interview, 1 will be offered that job and 80 percent of those receiving an offer will accept it (Talent Function Group LLC).

Six Seconds of Resume Review Means Recruiters Will See Very Little

When you ask individual recruiters directly, they report that they spend up to 5 minutes reviewing each individual resume. However, a recent research study from TheLadders that included the direct observation of the actions of corporate recruiters demonstrated that the boast of this extended review time is a huge exaggeration. You may be shocked to know that the average recruiter spends a mere 6 seconds reviewing a resume.

A similar study found the review time to be 5 - 7 seconds (BeHiring).

Obviously six seconds only allows a recruiter to quickly scan (but not to read) a resume. We also know from observation that nearly 4 seconds of that 6-second scan is spent looking exclusively at four job areas, which are: 1) job titles, 2) companies you worked at, 3) start/end dates and 4) education. Like it or not, that narrow focus means that unless you make these four areas extremely easy for them to find within approximately four seconds, the odds are high that you will be instantly passed over. And finally be aware that whatever else that you have on your resume, the recruiter will have only the remaining approximately 2 seconds to find and be impressed with it. And finally, if you think the information in your cover letter will provide added support for your qualifications, you might be interested to know that a mere 17 percent of recruiters bother to read cover letters (BeHiring).

A Single Resume Error Can Instantly Disqualify You

A single resume error may prevent your resume from moving on. That is because 61 percent of recruiters will automatically dismiss a resume because it contains typos (Careerbuilder). In a similar light, 43 percent of hiring managers will disqualify a candidate from consideration because of spelling errors (Adecco). The use of an unprofessional email address will get a resume rejected 76 percent of the time (BeHiring). You should also be aware that prominently displaying dates that show that you are not currently employed may also get you prematurely rejected at many firms.

A Format That Is Not Scannable Can Cut Your Odds by 60 Percent

TheLadders’ research also showed that the format of the resume matters a great deal. Having a clear or professionally organized resume format that presents relevant information where recruiters expect it will improve the rating of a resume by recruiter by a whopping 60 percent, without any change to the content (a 6.2 versus a 3.9 usability rating for the less-professionally organized resume). And if you make that common mistake of putting your resume in a PDF format, you should realize that many ATS systems will simply not be able to scan and read any part of its content (meaning instant rejection).

Weak LinkedIn Profiles Can Also Hurt You

Because many recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn profiles either to verify or to supplement resume information, those profiles also impact your chances. Ey- tracking technology used by TheLadders revealed that recruiters spend an average of 19 percent of their time on your LinkedIn profile simply viewing your picture (so a professional picture may be worthwhile). The research also revealed that just like resumes, weak organization, and scannability within a LinkedIn profile negatively impacted the recruiter’s ability to “process the profile” (TheLadders).

50 Seconds Spent Means Many Apply for a Job They Are Not Qualified for

Recruiters report that over 50 percent of applicants for a typical job fail to meet the basic qualifications for that job (Wall Street Journal). Part of the reason for that high “not-qualified” rate is because when an individual is looking at a job opening, even though they report that they spend 10 minutes reviewing in detail each job which they thought was a “fit” for them, we now know that they spend an average of just 76 seconds (and as little as 50 seconds) reading and assessing a position description that they apply for (TheLadders). Most of that roughly 60-second job selection time reviewing the position description is actually spent reviewing the narrow introductory section of the description that only covers the job title, compensation, and location.

As a result of not actually spending the necessary time reviewing and side-by-side comparing the requirements to their own qualifications, job applicants end up applying for many jobs where they have no chance of being selected.

Be Aware That Even if Your Resume Fits the Job Posting, You May Still Be Rejected

To make matters worse, many of the corporate position descriptions that applicants are reading are poorly written or out of date when they are posted. So even if an applicant did spend the required time to fully read the job posting, they may still end up applying for a job that exists only on paper. So even though an applicant actually meets the written qualifications, they may be later rejected (without their knowledge) because after they applied, the hiring manager finally decided that they actually wanted a significantly different set of qualifications.

Making it Through a Keyword Search Requires a Customized Resume

The first preliminary resume screening step at most corporations is a computerized ATS system that scans submitted resumes for keywords that indicate that an applicant fits a particular job. I estimate more that 90 percent of candidates apply using their standard resume (without any customization). Unfortunately, this practice dramatically increases the odds that a resume will be instantly rejected because a resume that is not customized to the job will seldom include enough of the required “keywords” to qualify for the next step, a review by a human.

Even if you are lucky enough to have a live recruiter review your resume, because recruiters spend on average less than 2 seconds (of the total six-second review) looking for a keyword match, unless the words are strategically placed so that they can be easily spotted, a recruiter will also likely reject it for not meeting the keyword target.

No One Reads Resumes Housed in the Black hole Database

If you make the mistake of applying for a job that is not currently open, you are probably guaranteeing failure. This is because during most times, but especially during times of lean recruiting budgets, overburdened recruiters and hiring managers simply don’t have the time to visit the corporate resume database (for that reason, many call it the black hole). So realize that recruiters generally only have time to look at applicants who apply for a specific open job and who are then ranked highly by the ATS system.

Some Applicants Have Additional Disadvantages

Because four out of the five job-related factors that recruiters initially look for in a resume involve work experience, recent grads are at a decided disadvantage when applying for most jobs. Their lack of experience will also mean that their resume will likely rank low on the keyword count. To make matters worse, the average hiring manager begins with a negative view of college grads because a full 66 percent of hiring managers report that they view new college grads “as unprepared for the work place” (Adecco).

Race can also play a role in your success rate because research has shown that if you submit a resume with a “white sounding name,” you have a 50 percent higher chance of getting called for an initial interview than if you submit a resume with comparable credentials from an individual with a “black-sounding name” (M. Bertrand, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business).

Remember a Resume Only Gets You an Interview

Even with a perfect resume and a little luck, getting through the initial resume screen by the recruiter only guarantees that your resume will qualify for a more thorough review during what I call the “knockout round.” During this next stage of review, the recruiter will have more time to assess your resume for your accomplishments, your quantified results, your skills, and the tools you can use.

Unfortunately, the recruiter is usually looking for reasons to reject you, in order to avoid the criticism that will invariably come from the hiring manager if they find knockout factors in your resume. If no obvious knockout factors are found you can expect a telephone interview, and if you pass that, numerous in-person interviews (note: applicants can find the most common interview questions for a particular firm on glassdoor.com).

Even if You Do Everything Right, the Odds Can Be Less Than 1 Percent

Because of the many roadblocks, bottlenecks, and “knockout factors” that I have highlighted in this article, the overall odds of getting a job at a “best-place-to-work” firm can often be measured in single digits. For example, Deloitte, a top firm in the accounting field, actually brags that it only hires 3.5 percent of its applicants. Google, the firm with a No. 1 employer brand, gets well over 1 million applicants per year, which means that even during its robust hiring periods when it hires 4,000 people a year, your odds of getting hired are an amazingly low 4/10 of 1 percent. Those unfortunately are painfully low “lotto type odds.”

Up to 50 Percent of Recruiting Efforts Result in Failure

In case you’re curious, even with all the time, resources, and dollars invested in corporate recruiting processes, still between 30 percent and 50 percent of all recruiting efforts are classified by corporations as a failure. Failure is defined as when an offer was rejected or when the new hire quit or had to be terminated within the first year (staffing.org). Applicants should also note that 50 percent of all new hires later regret their decision to accept the job (Recruiting Roundtable).

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, much of what is written about “the perfect resume” and the ideal job search approach is based on “old wives’ tales” and is simply wrong. However, when I review the numbers that are available to me from internal company recruiting data and publicly through research done by industry-leading firms like TheLadders, Adecco, BeHiring, staffing.org, and Careerbuilder, it doesn’t take long to realize that the real job search process differs significantly from the ideal one.

Rather than leaving things to chance, my advice both to the applicant and to the corporate recruiting leader is to approach the job search process in a much more scientific way. For the applicant that means start by thoroughly reading the position description and making a list of the required keywords that both the ATS and the recruiter will need to see.

Next submit a customized resume that is in a scannable format that ensures that the key factors that recruiters need to see initially (job titles, company names, education, dates, keywords, etc.) are both powerful and easy to find during a quick six-second scan. But next comes the most important step: to literally “pretest” both your resume and your LinkedIn profile several times with a recruiter or HR professional. Pretesting makes sure that anyone who scans them for six seconds will be able to actually find each of the key points that recruiters need to find.

My final bit of advice is something that only insiders know. And that is to become an employee referral (the highest volume way to get hired). Because one of the firm’s own employees recommended you and also because the recruiter knows that they will likely have to provide feedback to that employee when they later inquire as to “why their referral was rejected,” résumés from referrals are reviewed much more closely.

I hope that by presenting these 35+ powerful recruiting-related numbers I have improved your understanding of the recruiting process and the roadblocks that you need to steer around in order to dramatically improve your odds of getting a great job.


How to Network Using LinkedIn Groups

Are you a member of a LinkedIn Group? Do you spend time networking in LinkedIn Groups? LinkedIn Groups are great way to build credibility and make new connections that can ultimately help grow your business.

With over 1.5 million LinkedIn Groups, it can be difficult to find relevant Groups and determine which ones might be the best for you to join. It’s also important to find Groups that are well-managed.

Unfortunately there are many LinkedIn Groups that are not well-managed, which makes the experience within these Groups less than optimal.

You are sure to find a LinkedIn Group of interest to you.

Not to worry, I’m going to give you some insights on how to find the quality groups you can leverage most for your LinkedIn strategy!

How many groups should you join?

You can join up to 50 LinkedIn Groups. However, it’s difficult to gain traction in 50 Groups as well as find the time to participate in that many.

I recommend that you go ahead and join up to 50 Groups, but select 5-10 Groups to spend your time on in order to get the most benefit out of your participation.

Below are 5 tips for maximizing your LinkedIn Groups experience.

#1: Use LinkedIn Search to Find Relevant Groups to Join

In case you haven’t noticed, LinkedIn search has been significantly enhanced. This includes the ability to search for relevant Groups (based on your network) and search for discussion topics within open Groups!

Now you can search for discussion topics within “open” LinkedIn Groups

To start, search for Groups using keywords that would be a natural fit for you, based on your geographic location, industry, prospects, education history, community/charity organizations, hobbies and interests.

Try searching LinkedIn Groups with the keywords that actually describe your natural affinities. For example, type in the name of the college you attended to find potential alumni groups that exist on LinkedIn.

You can also take advantage of Boolean search operators for smarter searches on LinkedIn. I recently discovered this Tip Sheet on Boolean Search from LinkedIn Corporate Solutions.

To locate a LinkedIn Group that was in my geographic location and my industry, I searched LinkedIn Groups using the Boolean Search Operator “AND” for the keywords social media AND Dallas.

LinkedIn showed me 25 results for Groups based in Dallas AND focused on social media!

Get more specific with your Group searches using Boolean search operators

Another interesting finding was when I typed the word “hiking” into LinkedIn Group search. I found a group with over 1000 members who share this passion. There is no better way to start relationships than connecting around a common passion or interest!

Search for LinkedIn Groups using your passions, hobbies and interests as keywords

For each LinkedIn Group displayed in search results, you have the option to view members in your network who belong to the Group, as well as “similar Groups.”

See which of your connections are members of Groups and find similar Groups

You can even reach out to your LinkedIn connections and ask them what they think about the Groups that they belong to. This gives you a solid reason to reach out and connect with your network.

LinkedIn Group search is extremely powerful to discover the right Groups to join!

#2: Review the “Groups You May Like” Suggestions From LinkedIn

The easiest way to navigate to the Groups You May Like feature is through your navigation menu bar under Groups. There you will see these options. (The Groups Directory option is the primary search area for LinkedIn Groups.)

The Groups You May Like feature

When you click on the Groups You May Like feature, LinkedIn will list suggested Groups for you to check out, based on your network connections, profile information, skills and expertise and existing Group memberships. You may also notice some Groups (or subgroups) on this list that you already belong to.

#3: Evaluate the Quality of a LinkedIn Group

How do you know if the LinkedIn Groups you are interested in joining are going to be well-run and high-quality?

In some cases, you may just have to join the Group and spend some time there to make that determination. However, here are a few ways to evaluate the Group for quality:
  • Who are the Group managers, and are they engaged and visible?
  • What are the Group rules? (Hint: if the Group rules don’t exist or they are not well-written, chances are the Group is not well-managed.)
  • Do a good majority of the discussions involve questions and dialogue?
  • Are there lots of promotional links or an abundance of “self-promotional” updates?
  • Are the top influencers in the Group credible?
  • Is the Group manager among the top influencers?
In a well-managed Group, you are going to most likely see a manager who is visible throughout the discussions, and a strong set of rules.

The Intuit Small Business Group manager is highly visible

The quantity of membership and the activity level of a Group aren’t always correlated to whether the group is high-quality. I’ve seen some very large Groups that are very well-managed and some very small Groups that aren’t managed at all!

Be sure to evaluate the stats of the LinkedIn Group you are interested in as well. There you can learn more about member demographics, activity, how long the Group has been around and more.

Evaluate LinkedIn Group stats

#4: Consider Joining Corporate-Sponsored Groups

There are a number of corporate-sponsored Groups popping up on LinkedIn. This is where LinkedIn has officially partnered with brands or corporations to help them build robust Groups. Within each of these Groups, the organization can drive member visits and discussion participation while also controlling the ad display space within the Group site.

Examples of these corporate LinkedIn Groups include Intuit (Small Business Group), Citi (Professional Women’s Network), Staples (Small Business Network) and Capital One (Business Traveler Network).

Intuit has a corporate-sponsored LinkedIn Group that caters to small business owners

What I love about corporate-sponsored Groups on LinkedIn is that they are very well-managed. The discussions tend to be in-depth with rich dialogue among members. These brands/corporations have a vested interest in making their Groups successful, and in every case there are dedicated Group managers in place who facilitate the dialogue and keep the Group spam-free.

I have found as a member of several of the Groups listed above that the discussion questions submitted weekly (and delivered via email) by these Group managers are intriguing and enticing. They make you want to jump right in and give your own insights and opinions!

If you run your own LinkedIn Group or you’re thinking about starting one, you could learn some terrific strategies as a member of these corporate-sponsored Groups.

#5: Adhere to LinkedIn Group Participation Best Practices

In order to make LinkedIn Groups serve as authentic forums for discussions and dialogue, we can all do our part to maintain the integrity of the Groups we belong to. This will make the LinkedIn Group experience better for everyone.
Additionally, LinkedIn is doing its part by helping Group managers fight promotional posts. If you are thinking about posting a discussion that contains the words me, my or I, don’t count on it showing up. Most likely it will end up under the Promotions tab, where it’s highly unlikely that anyone will see it.

In order to successfully build influence in LinkedIn Groups, your best bet is to authentically engage in discussions and contribute value-added insights.

Below are some best practices to remember as you find the right Groups to join and start engaging with members:
  • Don’t just drop into Groups and promote your products or services.
  • Don’t auto-post your blog articles into LinkedIn Groups. Instead, provide links to reputable sources of information within the context of discussions that can help members. This can include your blog articles if they truly serve that purpose.
  • Ask questions and provide thoughtful answers.
  • Contribute to ongoing discussions and new discussions consistently.
  • Share meaningful, helpful, interesting and reputable content.
  • Send invites to connect with mutual Group members only after you’ve spent some time participating in the Group. The best time to send the invitation is when you’ve interacted with members in a discussion.

Closing thoughts…
I hope that these tips will help you make the most of your LinkedIn Groups experience. LinkedIn Groups provide an amazing opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader and an influencer. If you lead by example with your participation, others will follow.

Stephanie Sammons is the founder and CEO of Wired Advisor, a digital strategy coaching and marketing company for financial advisors, business professionals, and professional services firms.

The 5 Most Worthless Phrases in Your LinkedIn Headline

By Laura Smith-Proulx

Your LinkedIn Headline is arguably the most important piece of real estate within your Profile. Yet most users remain confused about its true function, and what to use (in place of the default, which is your current job title).

Here’s why you need to pay attention: inside LinkedIn’s search algorithm, your Headline ranks #1 out of all the other pieces of data you can add to your Profile. This means your Headline keywords are weighted more heavily as search terms.

In addition, your Headline is the first (and possibly the ONLY) piece of information other users see! It’s displayed in a search list, under your name in an Invitation, and in numerous other prominent places on the site.

Therefore, you’ll need to avoid using the most meaningless words possible in your Headline, reviewing these examples (all found in actual Profiles!) – and using the suggestions for a stronger alternative:

1 – “Top 1% (5%, etc.) Viewed Profile.”

Sure, this is an accomplishment… but not of any magnitude worth touting to employers.

Here’s why: if you’re an Operations Director, and put only these 2 words in your Headline, plus the same title for your past 4 jobs and NO other information anywhere in your Profile, you’ll probably rank in the Top 1% for this phrase!

In other words, reaching 1% this way would require hardly any effort, and it would limit your searchability for anything else.

However, if you’ve inserted 2,000 to 3,000 other words that describe your career level, achievements, and scope of authority, you’ll actually be MORE findable on these keywords. This is because recruiters use a mix of search terms when sourcing candidates.

However, your Top Viewed Profile ranking will drop (which is ironic… and yet, your job search will benefit!).

Therefore, an impressive Top Viewed ranking is just that – impressive, but not helpful in your search and not worth using precious, keyword-heavy real estate (even if you want a job writing LinkedIn Profiles!).

Disclaimer: I’m ranked among the Top 1% as well (but you won’t find it in my Headline).

2 – “Results-Driven.”

Just like on your resume, it’s important to use terms that distinguish you from the competition. This phrase and others like it (“dynamic” or “visionary,” anyone?) have become so embedded in boilerplate resume-speak, they’re essentially meaningless.

Plus, can you picture a recruiter using “Results-driven” as a search term? I didn’t think so.

Instead, consider adding a short phrase to your Headline that actually describes results, slipping in a keyword or two (“Marketing VP Improving Social Media Engagement”).

Even a short, powerful note on the ROI from your skills (“Sales Manager | #1 Revenue Record Across Americas”) can make a better impression.

3 – “Experienced.”

Unless you’re a student, this word doesn’t count for much in describing your career. Most professionals, by way of their job titles and career history, ARE “experienced” in their chosen fields, so you’re not laying claim to a unique skill.

Make your Headline more search-friendly by using a mixture of current and target job titles (“Senior Director, VP Sales”) to show your career goals, or a short description of your achievements (“12%+ Annual Sales Growth”).

Either way, showing your career aspirations or accomplishments will actually prove that you’re experienced and worthy of employer attention.

4 – ”Father,” “Husband,” “Wife,” etc.

I’ll say it again – LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, and it certainly isn’t Twitter (where these types of mini-bios are common).

On LinkedIn, other users are most interested in your career level and ability to produce results in a professional environment. Leave the family references for a more personal venue.

5 – ”Unemployed.”

If you’re not using your Headline to strengthen your brand message with keywords and job titles, you’re missing out on potential traffic and employer interest. “Unemployed” is hardly a search term, and it certainly doesn’t speak to your expertise.

(It might, however, convey desperation.)

Instead of wasting Headline space with it, try sending the same message while specifying what you offer employers (“IT Director Seeking Infrastructure, Operations, & Development Leadership Role”), while injecting strong keyword content.

As you can see, there’s many ways to capture and express value to an employer with your Headline.

Take a few minutes to add some creative phrasing and keyword content for better ROI from your Profile.

Laura Smith-Proulx, award-winning executive resume writer and founder of An Expert Resume, is a former recruiter who partners with CIO, CFO, CCO, COO, CTO, CEO, SVP, and Director candidates to win top jobs at Fortune-ranked corporations. A credentialed Professional Resume Writer, Career Management Coach, Interview Coach, Social Networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) Career Strategist, and Personal Branding Analyst, she is the author of How to Get Hired Faster: 60+ Proven Tips & Resources to Access the Hidden Job Market, with work featured in 8 career bestsellers. She serves as a media source to Wall Street Journal FINS, CIO.com, AOLJobs.com, LocalJobNetwork.com, and other outlets.


Is this 1937 or 1929?

One person I consider especially fortunate to have within my circle of friends is Andrew Ginsburg in NewYork. I admire his blog greatly (link to it from the foot of this post). He comes at the issues from an apolitical common sense standpoint and his concern for humanitarianism is always to the forefront. His post below highlights concerns that I share about the current economic situation in the US. 

You can also follow Andrew on Twitter here @GinsburgJobs

The point I’d like add to Andrew’s comments is that the only option left to many now is that of self-help. If the government is unwilling or unable to create jobs we have to create our own. I believe this isn’t as impossible a task as it might at first seem. Global communication networks have enabled much bigger things than this to actually happen – just look at the Arab Spring. What it needs is commitment and a willingness for individuals to share and help each other, rather than just ourselves. 

I’ll return to this topic in a future post , but for now here’s Andrew:

Is this 1937 or 1929?

by AndrewSGinsburg

It’s actually a great question but either one means bad news for the United States of America. Most people know about 1929 the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. What many people don’t know is that in the period from 1929 to 1937 the stock market rebounded, the economy looked good and everyone thinking we were out of any economic danger decided to put in place major budget cuts. 


That’s what happened in 1937, budgets were slashed, no more stimulus. Some people thought the economy had recovered. But it hadn’t. The budget cuts that were initiated in 1937 kept the Great Depression going until after World War 2. 


So where are we today, cutting budgets to continue the Depression we are in, or just at the beginning? It’s hard to tell. I am not an economist so keep that in mind while reading this. But, from what I have read from leading economists today we are in a situation of unprecedented long-term unemployment as well as an economy that’s shaky. Last quarter it basically broke even; this latest quarter the growth was below economists’ forecasts.

And, today we see our elected politicians looking for severe budget cuts. No cancer treatment for the poor? Is the U.S.A. a country where only the rich get medical care? The so called sequester is a disaster in the making. It cuts everything, from defending and protecting our country to cutting aid for education and medical care. That’s exactly what happened in 1937 which plunged the United States back into the Depression, which we had never gotten out of. 

What got us out of the Great Depression was WWII; during WWII, we spent as a country 3 times the GDP; which today would mean $45Trillion per year. People attack Barack Obama for his stimulus not working as well as it should have. Well, in a $15 Trillion economy, one push of $800 Billion wont do that much. Many economists predicted that at the time. And they were correct. 


Today our economy is in a Depression. Hiring has been so slow that it can’t keep up with population’s growth. Last month 500,000 people stopped looking for work. These people didn’t stop because they wanted to stay home and watch TV, or they wanted to live off the government (their benefits had long run out). They stopped looking because there are no jobs out there and people got sick of applying and rejected. You hear lots of stories about the unemployed having a lack of marketable skills; this used to be called on the job training. 

Speaking from experience I know that companies are not eager to hire people; they are not eager to take a well skilled worker and utilize their skills, no matter what the salary, they are more likely to over interview people and then not hire anyone at all. It’s really an extreme disaster for both sides. For the unemployed it can be worse than a spouse dying; they are more likely to suffer ailments that employed people aren’t. For companies, they are trying to make do with less; have fewer employees, fewer expenses and more profit. 

But that’s not the way it works in the big picture. Those that are fortunate enough to have jobs live in fear of losing them. You don’t get the best work from people when they are walking scared and afraid of being unemployed. What you do get is higher profits and CEOs with extremely high pay, because this quarter did well. No one is looking at the big picture, as to what companies and people will look like a decade from now. High riding companies will likely lose their CEOs as they move on to a better paying job. Every day employees are left with the mess senior management makes and are often blamed for it. 


So, 1937 or 1929? Austerity will kill all growth in this country and push us back into a deeper recession than we are already in. And it’s really a depression not a recession. If it’s more like 1929 we are in for a horrible ride. We are just at the beginning of a horrible economic mess. Yes the wealthy will be fine and are protected. Wherever you fall on the economic scale do you want to see your fellow Americans suffering and possibly dying because they don’t have income/cash? 

Its time to learn from history. What we did in 1937 caused tremendous pain. President Obama should be out there pushing for stimulus and jobs bills; like he tried to do with gun control. The GOP has been despicable in their obstructionism but that means Mr. Obama needs to work harder. We need more jobs for the 89 million people who are unemployed or who don’t earn enough to survive. 

Today is the day, we need to all come together to put every American who wants a job back to work. The cost will be minimal compared to the alternative.

Simple steps to join the top 1% Linkedin All-Stars

By Andy Foote

LinkedIn has always encouraged its users to complete as many sections of the LinkedIn Profile as possible. “Users with complete Profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn”.

They do the encouragement bit pretty well. What they don’t do well is explain WHY having a complete Profile is a good thing for you professionally. Perhaps that’s the reason for the message not getting through?

LinkedIn’s own statistics confirm the completion gap when they tell us that ”Only 50.5% of people have a 100% completed LinkedIn profile“. This is problematic not just for users but also for the platform as a whole. LinkedIn thrives on data and specifically the ability to ‘link’ that data. If almost half of its participants are providing incomplete data, half the network is in a permanent data shadow.


There are 4 levels to attain 100% Profile completion or ‘All-Star’.

(1) Beginner
(2) Intermediate
(3) Expert
(4) All-Star

Though the graphic suggests there is another level beyond ‘All-Star’, it’s misleading. ‘All-Star’ currently equates to having a fully completed Profile. Here are the Profile Sections you need to complete to get to ‘All-Star’ (100%):

  • Your Industry and Location
  • An up-to-date Current Position (with a description)
  • Two Past Positions
  • Your Education
  • Your Skills (minimum of 3)
  • A Profile Photo
  • At least 50 Connections 


The main reason to complete your Profile is to ensure that you will appear in LinkedIn search results. If someone searched on my last name and my Profile was incomplete i.e ‘Expert’, ‘Intermediate’ or ‘Beginner’, all of the other ‘All-Star’ Footes would rank higher and push me down the LinkedIn search rankings. LinkedIn’s search algorithm filters by relevance – it will also rank your search by Connections in Common, Connections by Degree (1st, 2nd then 3rd Degree Connections) and finally Groups in common. All searches conducted on LinkedIn are unique and relevant to you.

The search algorithm seeks and displays results in this order:

  1. Profile Completeness (100% only)
  2. Connections in Common (shared)
  3. Connections by Degree (1st Degree, then 2nd, then 3rd)
  4. Groups in Common (shared)
It’s important to understand that Profile Completeness is a trump card in the search game. If you don’t have a 100% complete Profile, your Connections or Groups don’t matter, you will be INVISIBLE when searched, game over.


Though the only person who can see Profile Completion (‘All-Star’ etc.) is you, the casual observer browsing your Profile will certainly notice if some Sections are missing key information (Photo, Past Positions, Education etc.). So it makes sense to be an ‘All Star’ to present well to anyone who comes to your Profile without actually searching for it.

Of course it’s possible the observer may not be ‘casual’ at all, they could be someone looking to fill an order, gap or role and your incomplete Profile just gave them a reason to keep looking. Unfortunately, you will never know how many opportunities you’ve missed because your LinkedIn Profile is incomplete.


Let’s try an experiment – google your name. Are you on the first page of Google’s search results? Has your LinkedIn Profile appeared first? If the answer to both questions is no, it’s probably because your LinkedIn Profile is incomplete.

If you are not being found via LinkedIn searches, you are not being clicked and your LinkedIn Profile page stays comparatively dormant. That’s a problem when it comes to being indexed on the world-wide web. 1 Billion names are searched on Google every day. 94% of people only look at the first page of search results. LinkedIn ranks higher than all other profiles including social networks and website builders (http://mashable.com/2012/08/02/higher-google-search-results/).

If you’re not being found, you’re lost and in limbo.

Google loves LinkedIn when it comes to PageRank. Apart from being an ‘All Star’, you can significantly boost your Google PageRank by doing the following:

  • Create a Public Profile and select ‘Full View’ in your Profile Settings.
  • Customize your Public Profile’s URL to be your actual name.
  • Use your Customized Public Profile URL generously on the web (i.e blog comments, tweets etc.)


Many LinkedIn Experts will encourage you to use all of the available space on your LinkedIn Profile and to ‘stuff’ your entire Profile with as many of your keywords as possible to rank in LinkedIn and Google searches. I think that’s bad advice.

Keyword stuffing makes your Profile look bloated and insincere, far better to come across as a genuine and capable professional by effectively telling your story, not gaming the system.

A stunningly good LinkedIn Summary lets you put your best foot forward and could also help you get it in the door. Roughly 70% of the Profiles I view on LinkedIn are via browsing, if I run a search I usually find who or what I’m looking for without paying much attention to ranking. If I see a Profile stuffed with keywords it leaves a bad impression. Now tell me again why keyword stuffing is a good thing?


Here are some great organic ways to improve your visibility on LinkedIn (without resorting to keyword stuffing):

  • Join Groups, start and engage in great Discussions, be helpful to those communities.
  • Create original content and share it with your connections.
  • Share relevant content and thank others when they do the same.
  • Recommend and Endorse your Connections.
  • Build your network by commonality and community.
LinkedIn makes it easy for you to discover like-minded folks, here are some examples of people that are a great match for me based on commonality and community (Groups, Skills and Location).


A popular rule for internet participation holds that 1% create content, 9% edit that content and 90% read it. Though that last figure will fluctuate depending on the type of community and seems to be reducing as more people become accustomed to participating online, the 1-9-90 rule still represents an enormous opportunity for anyone who wishes to increase their web visibility, since the barrier to becoming noticed has been set so low.

My advice: step out of the shadows and create (or edit) your future. Complete your LinkedIn Profile then give people multiple ways to find you and compelling reasons to engage with you.

ANDY FOOTE is a LinkedIn Management Consultant, Community Builder and Social Business Strategist. I enjoy teaching people how to squeeze the pips out of LinkedIn. I'm the proud Founder and Manager of 9 LinkedIn Groups with over 25,000 members. I blog at Linkedinsights.com and I tweet at @linkedinsights1. You can also find me on Facebook, Google+ and of course on LinkedIn.

This post originally appeared here: