Employers make half of their hires through their network. The top networking site is LinkedIn, with over 400 million users. It allows job seekers and employers to quickly research each other and find common network connections who can speak in depth about a job seeker’s character – something a resume can’t do.  Fortunately, most of LinkedIn’s key features are free.

Follow these important steps on LinkedIn to open the door to jobs already in your network.

Optimize your profile – To get, on average, 21 times more profile views, detail your experience with keywords, skills and accomplishments that highlight your capabilities; write a sharp, short headline to reflect your brand and upload a professional-looking photo.

Activate your current network– Upload your email or other contact list to quickly expand your network with friends who are already on LinkedIn.

Find jobs and target employers– Search for openings in your area in the “Jobs” feature and find connections who can give you a warm introduction or go directly to the company LinkedIn profile and enter the target employer’s name in the search bar.

Following up with hiring managers– Stay connected on LinkedIn once you have had an interview or contacted someone to network for a job. Consider inviting the hiring manager to connect and/or comment on one of their LinkedIn postings. It will show your interest and keep your name in front of them without being annoying.

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