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Does LinkedIn work for job seekers?

Looking for a job hunting can feel like dropping resumes into a black hole.  And what about your LinkedIn profile? Is anyone actually reading it? Or your updates? Turns out – yes. Someone, many someones, like Dwight Scott,  a recruiter with ExecuSearch in New York, are searching LinkedIn, potentially for you.

Scott says he doesn't spend a lot of time reviewing resumes of applicants. Instead he’s searching LinkedIn for potential hires. He says 65 percent of his placements this year are a direct result of reaching out to prospects on LinkedIn.

A version of LinkedIn just for recruiters offers powerful search options, Scott says. "Degrees, field of study, industry -- you can add custom filters if you like: status, what industry are they in, what groups have they joined? Are you interested in interviewing people that have joined Deadheads with Ties? Well, it’s right there -- that's a group."

"Everybody" Scott says, "uses LinkedIn."

 So what does this mean for people who belong to LinkedIn because they’re looking for a job? Or because they have a vague understanding that belonging to the site might somehow help them? I heard from a lot of workers who said they found jobs through the site – both by making new contacts and being contacted by recruiters. Claudine Halpern, who worked in management consulting for 35 years, says she’s used LinkedIn to get a lot of projects but is still reserved about the site.

“It’s a tool," she says. "It’s not A+. Nothing is A+ without the work you do around it.”

Halpern says anyone looking for a job needs to have a strategy, like updating their LinkedIn profile on a regular basis so it gets in front of lots of eyes – like Dwight Scott’s.

“You can’t put out a profile out and ignore it," she says. "You've got to keep it rolling. It’s like a snowball. You've got to keep it rolling and rolling and rolling and you've got to keep it growing, otherwise it doesn’t work for you."

LinkedIn says it’s used for a lot more than jobs – like marketing and education. And it says it’s impossible to track how many jobs are filled through its site. But Halpern says you’ll have a better chance of getting noticed if you’re a joiner, and an updater. Providing ever more information. Which is what LinkedIn promises its paying customers – recruiters.

Peter Cappelli, a professor of human resources at Wharton, says that employers and recruiters have to be careful to see through all that white noise on the site. They have a tendency to look at workers' current titles to see if they match jobs that need to be filled, which Cappelli says can mean ignoring creative hires and potential. At the same time, he says, LinkedIn makes it easy to game the system. And no one is going to post a bad recommendation on the site.

“Everybody gets good references," Cappelli says,  "and everything is glowing, so at some point it’s kind of useless.”

Like this reporter's mother, who endorsed her skills on LinkedIn

“I hope," said Cappelli, "she gave you a good reference.” 

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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