Do I have to use LinkedIn in my job search?
No. You don’t have to use LinkedIn – nor do you have to have a resume or do any networking. But would you ever attempt to be in a serious job search without a great resume and tapping into your professional network? Probably not.

So why, in 2015, would you attempt a job search without leveraging LinkedIn? Here are some interesting stats about how 10,000 professionals who recently changed jobs did it.

But back to using LinkedIn for your job search. If you’re reluctant, you might think LinkedIn is just about connecting you to others so you can ask them if they know of any job opportunities. Oh, don’t be shy – I know that this is a very common belief about LinkedIn. The most frequent comment I hear from clients about using LinkedIn – “I’m just a really private person – I don’t want everyone knowing my business. I prefer to keep my job search private.”

Urgh. Seriously?

LinkedIn is the single, best away to share your personal brand with a wider audience.

That statement reflects two common misperceptions about today’s job search. The first is that, whether you like it or not, we’re living in a world of social media. The second misperception is that LinkedIn’s only value is for job seekers who are actively looking.

LinkedIn is the single, best away to share your personal brand with a wider audience. Here’s a little quiz: What do you think has a wider reach? Sending out ten targeted resumes only to be seen by two recruiters, four hiring managers and two human resources assistants OR having an online profile on a site that is visited by 79 million people monthly?

Some other interesting stats: 40% of LinkedIn users check it daily and 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates. I’m not a gambling type of girl, but I like the odds that my LinkedIn profile will be seen by more people than if I just send out a bunch of resumes. Especially because I believe that new job opportunities often come from “people who know people” and this is when your visibility counts. If no one knows you’re out there, you might be missing out on opportunities finding you.

And if you think LinkedIn is just for job seekers, think again. LinkedIn is a great research tool – to connect you to people who can give you interesting and helpful information and career advice, especially those who have backgrounds/experience similar to yours.

My favorite way to use LinkedIn is to research career paths when at an important career juncture. You can search for keywords, companies and even job titles you’re interested in to get some valuable insight about your own marketability. Oh, and yes, the jobs feature on LinkedIn is pretty impressive too – 3 million active listings (as of Feb 2015) and growing daily.

LinkedIn is a best practice for sharing your professional profile AND to help with your search. And you absolutely don’t have to use it. Just ask yourself how much harder you’re willing to work at your search.