It seems like everyday your email is filled with requests from friends and colleagues to join this or that social network, creating an alphabet soup of social sites clogging your inbox: Flickr, Reddit, Google+, Twitter, Digg, and LinkedIn.
It was the latter that caught my attention when I found myself out of work some years ago, casting my job-search net as wide as possible. I decided to investigate. I had heard it was more like Monster or CareerBuilder―someplace to post your resume. At first glance it looks just like that, your resume on screen. But a closer examination quickly shows that it's more like a Facebook for professionals. Sure, it has all the classic elements of your resume―objective, work experience, education, skill list―but it's no static document. It's a living and dynamic page going more in depth.
If anything, the one page resume you send to a potential employer should be crafted to interest them enough to go to your LinkedIn page (if a business accepts electronic resumes, you can facilitate this by having a live web link on your resume).
Once at LinkedIn, there are the classic resume items as mentioned, but you are able to expand them into larger paragraphs. Using key words and phrases that succinctly express skills and experience at the beginning of each paragraph, you can draw readers in further and elaborate your abilities that you couldn't on a single page resume.
Likewise, you're able to elaborate on your hobbies and how your personal life skills can compliment job requirements. In an age where there are increasing numbers of qualified applicants, you need to differentiate yourself from the other drones by proving you're interesting and well rounded.
This is made easier by LinkedIn's ability to display your blog posts and Twitter feeds which prove just how interesting you are.
Proof that LinkedIn is the love child of Facebook and Monster.com include job boards showing jobs based on keywords in your profile, recommendations to connect with members in your industries, and suggestions to join groups that revolve around your interests. Like Facebook, you can insert a profile picture to put a face to your skills.
Quid Pro Quo is made easy. You can give and receive recommendations with your connections, making it unnecessary for potential employers to ask for them since they are publicly posted.
Now the fun stuff.
What sets LinkedIn apart is the option to include up to 16 apps on your page, enhancing your profile. These applications not only make you more marketable, but also help you learn, collaborate, and be informed. Examples include showing how smart you are by posting your Amazon reading list, and your corresponding book reviews. And if you've written your own book, it's easy enough to make sure the book that shows up at the top of your reading list is your own.
There is an app to post documents that are samples of your work.
If your career involves creative arts, consider a slideshow app that visually displays your crafts. The slideshow can also be used to walk a viewer through scenarios (either with simple text or a full blown multimedia presentation) related to your work experience.
You can see my profile as an example: http://www.linkedin.com/in/adam1copeland
LinkedIn isn't just about getting a job. It's also about keeping a job while networking, keeping current/relevant and growing. A necessity in this day and age.