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Getting the most from LinkedIn

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FILE - In this May 19, 2011 file photo,the LinkedIn logo is displayed in the foyer at headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. LinkedIn Corp. had strong revenue in the second quarter thanks to growth from ads and the fees it charges for deeper access to its vast trove of professional profiles, the company said Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.


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If you’re looking for a job in the middle of this sluggish economic recovery, you're probably aware of the challenges in the job market. Having a good online professional profile might be the missing link in your job search.

According to recent survey data collected by Talent Board, a nonprofit group based in San Diego, an average of 90 to 125 people apply for each corporate online job posting. If you want to get hired, it’s more important than ever to standout.

Talent Board collected data from 46,000 job candidates and 122 employers as a part of their Candidate Experience awards.

The survey results showed that 92 percent of companies surveyed used LinkedIn to engage or recruit qualified candidates. "We can take an inactive job candidate and turn them into an active candidate by searching LinkedIn's database for qualified people using keywords," said Caroline Welty, a human resource management associate at Citibank in New York City.

The same data showed that only 55 percent of applicants used LinkedIn during their job search. Looking great on LinkedIn really might lead you to your next job.

Here are five expert tips to create or improve your professional digital presence and help you get noticed on LinkedIn and its job-hunting resources.

1. Update your profile frequently

Experts like talent board chairwoman Elaine Orler say you shouldn’t just join LinkedIn and walk away. It’s crucial to keep your information fresh. Each time a profile is updated, it transmits a notification to interested parties. “It takes maintenance to keep your profile up to date and in front of a recruiter. If you updated six months ago, your info isn’t in front of a recruiter’s eyes anymore,” Orler said.

“When actively looking for work, update your professional profile almost as often as you would any other social media account. If you don’t update, you don’t get noticed,” Orler said. “Even if you’re unemployed, update your job title to self-employed or nonprofit.You can still show that you’re adding value to the world."

2. Utilize your relationships

One of the most acclaimed functions of LinkedIn is that it shows your connections to specific companies. You may not realize without the help of LinkedIn that you have a friend at an organization you’d like to work for. Knowing someone on the inside transforms a cold application process into a warm relationship from the beginning.

“Don’t be afraid to ask Sally to connect you to Joe. Your relationships are there for a reason,” Orler said. “It’s always been who you know that can tell perspective employers what you know. Referrals are the most effective way to get engaged in the right conversations.”

3. Tell them why you’re valuable

Instead of just listing companies, duties and responsibilities in your LinkedIn work histories, show how being on the payroll made a difference. Tell them what you were known for and why you were recognized during your employment.

“The best profiles show how you’ve contributed to the business, saved them money or improved the bottom line. Those are the things that catch the eyes of recruiters,” Orler said.

4. Follow, join and contribute to specific groups and employer pages

More than three million companies have specific pages within LinkedIn where they share information and create discussion items. Consider following companies you’re interested in and add to the conversation by leaving online comments.

“Contributing to groups and companies related to your profession is an easy win to get exposure to those companies. They are great conversation starters to influential people who can help you find the right job,” Orler said.

5. Connect your other social media accounts

Consider linking your Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account to your LinkedIn profile. Give recruiters or employers as many ways as you can to get to know you and reach out. “A recruiter can find more about you when they connect through those links. If all they have is the LinkedIn in-mail, you may not see their attempt to reach you,” Orler said.