If you're job hunting, it's only natural to want to do your research. And what better way to do that than by exploring the LinkedIn profiles of potential leads?
But here's the thing: even if you're familiar with LinkedIn and understand what all of its features are, trying to glean information from someone else's profile can be tricky. Is that one degree listed as a Bachelor of Science or an MBA? Are there gaps in his or her work history, and if so, why?
Social media manager Because information on others' profiles can be tricky to decipher, here are five tips for getting the most relevant information from someone's LinkedIn profile.
1. Look for Credible Credentials
First things first: when you're researching potential candidates, it's not enough to just look at the person's profile…you need to really dig in and see what he or she has actually accomplished in the workplace. A person with a "Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering" is likely to have more success working at a chemical engineering company as opposed to a marketing company.
Even if you're not in this industry, you can still leverage your research skills. In the example above, a person with a BS in Chemical Engineering probably has a lot of technical knowledge that isn't directly tied to any specific company or industry. If so, they're probably a solid candidate to fill a unique or specialized job at your company–even if they don't have specific experience working in your niche.
2. Follow the Breadcrumbs of Personal Branding
Whether you're familiar with LinkedIn or not, it's obvious that people make use of articles and recommendations when publishing their profiles. Your research should focus on finding out where these articles and recommendations are coming from. If a writer somewhere has published an article praising a LinkedIn member's work ethic, it means that the writer and LinkedIn member probably have a relationship of some sort. And if they do, you can bet that it's a trustworthy one.
3. Look at the Timelines
If you're on the hunt for quality candidates and you're not sure if someone is an accurate fit for your organization, take a look at their professional timeline and see how things line up. If their qualifications are impressive but there are gaps in their timeline, ask yourself why; maybe they took time to further their education or care for loved ones. If so, those may be valuable qualities to bring into the workplace.
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