16 Amazing, Sneaky Little Ways To Use LinkedIn to Advance Your HR Career

by Alan Collins

Recently, LinkedIn announced they had reached over 300 million members.  

This milestone just solidifies their reputation as the world’s #1 career management tool.

It’s also huge for our profession too because 950,000+ human resources professionals currently belong to the LinkedIn network.

However, based on talks I’ve had recently with many of my close HR colleagues, very few of them are maximizing the full value of LinkedIn.

A lot of them barely use it once they sign up.  And, even more HR folks are not even signed up at all! Let me tell you, if you fall in these categories, and want to move your career forward in HR, you’re missing the boat.  Big time!

Since I’ve been a part of the LinkedIn universe, I’ve picked up some amazing insights into the ways a handful of human resources folks have been very quietly leveraging this tool to give themselves a career advantage.

And, I thought, hey, why not share these with you and other HR folks so that everyone can benefit.  There are at least 2 or 3 of these insights you can get value from – whether you’re an entry level HR generalist or a C-suite HR senior executive.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of 15 sneaky, amazing little ways your HR colleagues are using LinkedIn to advance their careers — and how you can too.  Enjoy!

1.  Use LinkedIn to help you ace your next HR job interview.

People who will interview you for an HR job will know a lot about you from your resume (and by googling you) long before you set ever foot on their hallowed ground.  Why not use LinkedIn to turn the tables and check out all the people on your interview schedule too?

Knowing who went to your same school, who likes to play tennis, who is reading the latest Ulrich book, or who knows the same people you know is a heck of a lot better than an awkward silence after, “I’m doing fine, thank you.”

2.  Get the inside scoop on the job you’re interviewing for.

Some HR folks are discreetly checking out the people who used to have the job that they’re interviewing for.  You can do this too by going to the “People” tab and searching for job title and company, and by checking “Past titles” box only.  Now, this doesn’t work all this time, and it doesn’t work at all if this job isn’t listed in their profile.

However, if you do strike gold doing this, you can use this information to reach out and contact the people who used to hold the position, and get the inside scoop on the job, the manager and what growth potential exists for the job.  Frankly, I’m not gutsy enough to do all this, but many aggressive HR job-seekers I know have.

3.  Get the skinny on the company you’re interviewing with.

Perform an advanced search for company name and check the “Past” box.  This will enable you to get a rough idea of what turnover looks like and whether or not folks seem to be bailing out of this organization like rats from a sinking ship.

4.  Get up to speed fast in your new HR job.

One of the toughest challenges any HR person faces is getting up to speed quickly in a new job.  It doesn’t matter what kind of job it is.  When you start a new job, ordinarily your roots aren’t that deep in that new role.  And if you’re joining a new company, it’s even tougher.  You face the hurdles of learning the new culture, building new relationships and trying establish chemistry with people when you’re the unknown guy or gal from outside.

With Linkedin, if you’re the new HR kid on the block, you can study your new colleagues’ profiles and quickly use that info to find areas of common ground, ways you might be able to support them in their careers and ways to establish rapport with them more quickly.

5.  Determine how you rate for that next HR promotion.

When a new promotional opportunity opens up, it would be great to know how your background, training, experience and the size of your network compares with that of others who may be competing with you for this position too.

Now you can.

In addition, some HR professionals have found it especially helpful to see how their peers explain what they do in HR and what they choose to highlight about their HR experience, work and lives.  One person confided to me that she’s probably updated her profile 7-8 times based on something she’s seen on a peer’s profile.

6.  Scope out the person who beat you out a job.

If you’ve been passed over, you can walk around pissed at the world.  Or you can learn from it.  If you’ve ever wondered what the resume or profile looks like of the person who beat you out for a job….well, now you can.

7.  Position yourself as an HR subject matter expert.

If you want to make your mark in specialized areas like compensation, labor relations, OD, staffing or benefits, LinkedIn makes this a lot easier.  Here are the steps you can take to do this:

You’ll find that by using the Questions and Answers feature of LinkedIn, you can start conversations, create community, and position yourself as a subject matter expert in a relatively short time.

8.  Keep your resume up to date – easily.

Today, everyone in HR needs an up to date resume, on their hard drive, ready to send out at a moment’s notice.  In the good old days, when I wrote my first resume, I did what everyone else did then.  I typed it out, went to Kinkos and had them make 200 copies on their nice, expensive, high-grade, shiny, off-white paper.  Shiny so it would look slick and stand out.  Then when I found a mistake, I had to type it up, edit it, print it out again, go back to Kinkos and repeat the process. After all that, I might have given out 12 copies – half of them to my family.

Now, if I meet someone, I don’t say “here’s my shiny new resume.” Instead, I say “here’s my contact info” and provide them a link to my LinkedIn profile or if they’re not on LinkedIn, I can use LinkedIn to auto-email them a copy of my profile.  Easy.

9.  Differentiate your experience from everyone else’s.

An HR headhunter told me recently that he is increasingly seeing HR resumes in Word format that contain testimonials about the candidate at the end of the document.

In a tight job market, HR job candidates are now using endorsements to elevate themselves from the rest of the pack.  Nice idea!  For example, imagine if you had 3 or 4 different testimonials at the end of your resume that read like this…

“Rarely in my career have I worked with a more positive, insightful, and supportive HR leader than Jill Doe.  She has a deep insight into the business, a passion for getting results and an approach to working with people that brings out their best.  Would be thrilled if the opportunity presented itself to work with her again.” —  John Smith (Vice President – Human Resources at ABC, a division of XYZ) who worked with Jill at XYZ Corporation.

Since Linked-in testimonials are impossible to manipulate, all a user can do with an average testimonial is not add it to their profile — they cannot change it.  That lends an air of authenticity to Linked-in testimonials, which is great.  If you are a Linked-in user, get some testimonials and add them to your resume.  Ideally, you should have testimonials for each job you have held.  Linked-in testimonials will legitimize your claims of functional expertise, and they will help a hiring manager understand exactly where and how and when you have created value in the past.

10.  Help in your job search.

If you’ve lost your job or seeking out a new opportunity, besides everything else I’ve talked about so far, you can use LinkedIn to…

11.  On your next business trip, connect with your network.

This is one of my personal favorites.  Here’s the situation:  You have a business trip planned and you have some blocks of free time while you’re there.  You want to make good use of it by meeting some new people, preferably folks that might be relevant to your business or your career, or meeting up with some people that you’ve perhaps only met online.  Maybe a former colleague or classmate lives there and you didn’t even realize it.

Having all your contacts all in one place, makes it easy just to e-mail them beforehand, and set it all up.

12.  Get some help in doing your job better.

The “what are you working on” feature can be a powerful way of getting help, support and guidance on work-related projects.  If you’re struggling trying to determine “how to best retain superstar engineers” or looking for “best practices in getting buy-in to benefits open enrollment changes,” make it known to your network.

There might be contacts in your network or outside of it, who could offer assistance, trade war stories or make recommendations for service providers.

13.  Get recognized for what you’ve done or can do.

I’ve seen a lot of HR people that have sparse profiles.  Don’t be lazy.  You want a meaty profile that lays out on a silver platter what you’ve done and what you’re capable of doing.

If you want an example, go to my profile.  Now, you don’t have to write a novel or go all overboard like I did.  And, you may not want to go back to beginning of time in your job history like I did either.

But the point is to put enough information out there about your background, job history, and areas of interest so that people know what to contact you about.

Write a summary section that clearly outlines your personal brand or HR specialty that gets people jazzed up about what you do.

Many profiles on LinkedIn are just a shell with a name and a short chronology.  You would never submit a resume to a potential employer that only listed employment and dates, so why in the heck would you use this tactic on-line when your information is available for millions of people to see?

Take the time to create a robust profile.  It will get you noticed.

14.  Share jobs and job leads.

You never know which of your connections on LinkedIn is looking for a new opportunity. For this reason, I look for opportunities to “like” the Human Resources-related job postings that I see on LinkedIn, which then auto-shares them with my network…which primarily consists of my fellow HR professionals.

I don’t do this every day. Just selectively. And only if the HR job looks like a nice opportunity.

And no, I’m not a headhunter, And no, I don’t collect a fee for doing this. I do this primarily because this is what LinkedIn is for….connecting, sharing your expertise and helping your network.

If you believe in providing value to your network, you should do it too.

How? Take one second to just “like” a job posting the moment you see one, if you believe it can help the people in your network who might be looking for a change or a new opportunity. Or even better yet, email it to a specific person you know who would definitely benefit from it.

I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

You’ll feel great for doing it.

You’ll be adding value to your network.

And who know, they might return the favor.

15.  Build a network without making it a full-time day job.

Those who have used LinkedIn successfully, will tell you need at least 50 connections.  They’ll also tell you that this doesn’t mean you should connect to every single Tom, Dick and HR person who sends you an invitation.  LinkedIn is most effective when you connect with:

These are the people who can help you do your job, find new career opportunities and pass on ideas that can improve your career, impact and success on the job.  LinkedIn doesn’t replace traditional networking, it facilitates it. Always supplement your on-line efforts with face-to-face networking.

16.  Stay in touch with 5 people…or 5000.

I’ve saved the best for last.  This is my #1 favorite way to use LinkedIn – and I’ve included a video at the end to emphasize this point.

But first, a confession.  Over the years, I’ve been horrible at staying in touch with people.  It’s not because of no interest – it’s because of no time.  But now, I no longer have any excuse.  And, neither do you. Now, when you have significant change in your life or career — for instance a new assignment, a job change to a new location, an award you’ve just received, or a new baby, or you’ve just divorced and you want to get back in circulation (hey, just kidding!) – you can use LinkedIn to notify your contacts by way of making a profile update.

All it takes is about 1-2 minutes to do this and all your contacts are instantly updated. And if you want to reach out, you can do this too with a follow-up email message to your contacts saying “I would love to catch up with you to give you the scoop on what’s happening – call or text me when you get a chance at (xxx) xxx-xxxx!”

It’s that keeping-up process that sparks conversations, keeps your relationships fresh and will enhance your career and your life. Now, to drive home how absolutely CRITICAL this last point is, check out the video below called “Christian The Lion.”  It’s from YouTube.  It’s only 2 minutes long and well worth your time to view.  Watch it now.  However, Be Sure To Watch It All The Way To The End — With The Volume Turned ON!   Again, I believe this video captures the biggest benefit you’ll ever get from being on LinkedIn.


So, there you have it, 15 amazing, sneaky little ways you can use LinkedIn to advance your HR career and enhance your life. You should try to spend at least 30 minutes per week managing your LinkedIn presence. If you do that, I believe you’ll find that it will pay off well for you in the future.

Now it’s your turn.  CLICK HERE to add your comments or any additional ways you’ve found LinkedIn to be helpful in moving your career forward.

About the author:  Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR and the author of two HR best sellers, UNWRITTEN HR RULES and BEST KEPT HR SECRETS.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.   His most recent book, WINNING BIG IN HR is now is available on Amazon.

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22 Responses to “16 Amazing, Sneaky Little Ways To Use LinkedIn to Advance Your HR Career”

  1. Ravish Says:

    Ravish from LinkedIn…

    Alan

    You are fantastic and your work is going to be recognized very soon, I’m forwarding this ur mail in my network contacts, Thnax for shairing the same.

    Regards
    Ravish

  2. admin Says:

    Ravish – thanks for posting your comments, very much appreciated.
    All the best,
    Alan

  3. admin Says:

    Ravish – also thanks for forwarding on this to your network contacta…

  4. Jacqueline Says:

    From Jacqueline Brusino from LinkedIn…

    Hello Alan, That is a great article, very well written. I have forwarded it to several of my colleagues that I know would benefit from using LinkedIn but just aren’t there yet! Thank you, I enjoyed it and the links to other articles you have listed.

  5. admin Says:

    Comment From Deborah Tyson from LinkedIn.com

    Alan, great article: I had used some of your suggestions but not others so I will definitely expand my horizons. Best of all, I loved the video and it did indeed drive home reconnecting with friends and past acquaintances. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Deborah

  6. Lata Punjwani Says:

    Dear Alan,

    I completely agree with what you have written about Linkedin Usage. I have recently moved to Dubai from India,hence I DO NOT have contacts with Dubai HR Fraternity, however ever since I have started spending time on Likedin, I have gathered a lot of information and also made very good contacts.

    As fas as your suggestions on Linkedin usage is concerned, I have to say that you have explained every feature of the site very precisely and more than that how it can benifit the user in making the next carrer move.

    Video: It is too good.

    Thanks
    Lata Punjwani

  7. scott holsman Says:

    In a word, stunning.

  8. Joyce Gates Says:

    Alan,

    In my life, doors open when I need them to and then present me with options or solutions to my current needs. I am currently unemployed, and I decided that today I would spend time updating my LinkedIn profile to make it more attractive and enticing.

    Door Number 1: A local HR professional wrote a comment to say that she had gotten offers from recruiters based upon her profile, so I decided to use it as a template for mine.

    Door Number 2: I went to the HR Group on LinkedIn and I came upon your article “15 Amazing, Sneaky Little Ways to Use LinkedIn to Advance Your HR Career.”

    Door Number 3: ??? Who knows? All I know now is that I have the information necessary to improve my profile.

    I loved your article and the video is priceless; I will definitely forward that to friends and family.

    I appreciate you and your article being the gold nugget behind door number 2.

    Thanks,

    Joyce

  9. Jolanta Wawer Says:

    Alan,

    Thanks so much for your excellent tips.

    I was one of those Hr professionals that signed with LinkedIn, created profile more just because many of my friends were there and forgot about LinkedIn existence.
    My situation has changed after I became one of those HR folks in ranks of unemployed. Now, I try to come up with ideas how to put myself out there or just find information that could benefit my search and also pay it foward.
    Alan, your article put valuable tips into one material that is easy to refer.

    I am a big fun of all your recent articles as well as your website.
    As a young HR professional in transition I appreciate you sharing your experience and telling like it is…

    Thanks again,
    Jolanta

  10. Betsy Kennally Says:

    Alan:
    I found this article (and others you’ve written) valuable and the video inspirational. Please – keep writing!

    Kind Regards,

    Betsy

  11. Karla Porter Says:

    This is great Alan. There’s lots of advice out there about how to use LinkedIn but I like the way your post focuses on using it for a personal reconnaissance mission for professional intel.

  12. Kris Plantrich Says:

    Love the article! Helpful for HR but also for candidates researching companies and job opportunities. Will make sure to pass this link on to clients sill not utilizing LinkedIn.

  13. Sandra Wichman, MS Says:

    Alan, this is such helpful information for HR professionals….many of us are so busy propelling others’ careers that we forget to …..STOP…..and consider our own. THANK YOU! Great information..that I am going to follow TODAY!
    Sandra

  14. Summer Says:

    Thank you for this valuable information. I am trying to break into HR and am a graduate student. I like the information on advancing your HR career but do you have any advice on how to break into the HR field since most people are looking for employees with HR experience.

    Thanks,

    Summer

  15. Betsy Fitzpatrick Says:

    Thank you, Alan! I always love your articles and this one is so helpful. I have my dream HR job, so am not currently seeking the job opportunities LinkedIn provides, but still found so much useful advice in your article. And now, when colleagues ask me about the value of LI, I won’t stumble to articulate it…I’ll just forward your post!

  16. @civicark Says:

    Alan at it again.your work would be recognize soon….. keep it up.

  17. Glynis Carter Says:

    Ding, ding, ding! as usual. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  18. Chuck Imhoff Says:

    Alan, Great,concise article! Very informative to all… and effective if they follow your advice.

  19. Peter Edward Says:

    As always another feather to your cap.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Jayne Kangwa Says:

    I had just gotten in touch with a friend with whom I had gone to college way back and seeing the video made me glad that I had rekindled our friendship. Alan, thanks for sharing both the tips and the video!

  21. Joseph Musoke Says:

    dear Allan,

    it is always a pleasure to read your advisory / body of knowledge that enrich our career prospects. You are a blessing to the HR fraternity as you are always handy and spot on to enhance our careers. am an ardent admirer of your writing keep it up.
    thanks a million ton.

    rgds

    Joseph

  22. Marigrace Says:

    Alan you ‘aced’ it again! Thx. ~~Marigrace

Comments