What benefit does LinkedIn have for federal government employers looking to hire and government employees looking to be hired, either in the private sector or in government?
While the federal government has been quick to promote itself using a variety of social media, it has been less at the forefront to hire via sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook. After all, all applicants are required to apply to openings via usajobs.gov. At first glance it would seem that the two are incompatible strategies.
But LinkedIn can be used as a tool to narrow down potential hires and for individuals to stand out from the pack. These methods are even more relevant with LinkedIn’s introduction of two new tools, Skills and Similar Profiles. Both use algorithms to highlight individuals based on talent, influence and expertise.
“We had an opening for a contractor and I looked them all up on LinkedIn.” – Mike Pina
With Similar Profiles, “you just tell LinkedIn, ‘Look, I have five great engineers, and I want more like them’…and we just find people like that for you,” said Adam Nash, vice president of product and user experience, in a Fast Company article on the subject. With Skills, employers can see what skills are needed for a particular job, who has them, and who is an influencer in that area, he added.
Mike Pina, a communications program manager at the U.S. Department of Transportation, a top LinkedIn influencer and informal advisor on applying for federal jobs, sees LinkedIn as a key tool for both employers and those looking for jobs.
As an employer, Pina uses LinkedIn to narrow down the pool of applicants and get a better idea for who to interview.
“We had an opening for a contractor and I looked them all up on LinkedIn,” he said.
Employers can also use LinkedIn to find potential hires for jobs that are difficult to fill, said Pina. Even though all federal hires are required to apply using usajobs.gov, federal employers can search through LinkedIn to find good candidates and then contact them to encourage them to apply to a particular posting. Similarly, contractors may be looking for a unique skill set that a federal employee may have – and may be able find that person on LinkedIn.
For those looking for jobs, Pina recommends that individuals have a robust LinkedIn profile, including many contacts and recommendations, a portfolio and links to their work, and an interesting introduction with keywords applicable to their relevant field with a long bulleted list of specialties.
“You’ve got to see LinkedIn as your online resume. In today’s market there are so many people applying for jobs. Hiring managers are looking at who to bring in for an interview. If you don’t have [a robust LinkedIn profile] it reduces your prospects for getting called in. You need to use LinkedIn to add additional information about yourself that is not on your resume,” said Pina.
Pina also recommends that users look at groups that are within their particular field and for federal employees, as many times jobs are posted on those pages. He also recommends frequent posting on the site, as that brings up one’s name higher in the search engine rankings.