Abby Kohut is on a personal mission: to teach 1 million people across the country the job-search secrets that recruiters won't tell you.
A recruiter for 17 years, Kohut was frustrated by the errors she was seeing on the resumes she received and the basic mistakes candidates were making during an interview.
While she claims she hired more than 10,000 people during this time, she said she was disturbed by how many people she had to turn away, primarily because it was evident they just weren't educated about the dos and don'ts in the job-search process.
"I felt like I had rejected a million job seekers in my career," she said. So in 2012 she set out in an RV to teach 1 million people how to do it the right way and land their dream job. So far, she claims she has educated and inspired more than 265,000 job seekers.
Also known as Absolutely Abby — because she tells people the absolute truth about the hiring process — Kohut has nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn who listen to her job-search and career-enrichment secrets. She covers everything from resume writing, job boards and salary negotiation to cover letters, the proper way to dress for an interview and networking, but she believes the most powerful tool in today's hiring landscape is LinkedIn.
According to the Jobvite Recruiter Nation Survey, 87 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn when searching for ideal candidates. The networking site has 500 million users worldwide, reaching 200 countries and territories around the globe. More than 133 million users are in the United States alone.
"Monster started it all off, then LinkedIn took over the market. I don't have a choice, because that's how things are done these days," she said. "When I had the mail, I could evaluate each resume based on the resume itself. But now the computer is making the decisions for me. It's easier, but good people now get ruled out," she said.
There are ways to set yourself apart from thousands of other candidates on the professional networking site, said Kohut. Here are nine essential ways to successfully leverage LinkedIn and land your dream job.
1. Stuff your profile with key words and use them multiple times. Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume. So in order for a recruiter to find you, you must include the proper search terms in your profile — and not a deriative of the word, said Kohut. She adds that you must think of your key words in terms of what a recruiter would type in to search for an ideal candidate.
For instance, she said, "If I were looking to hire a director of finance, a key word might be GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles), another might be budgets, stocks or Microsoft Excel." She recommends using key words from the job description.
"Key words are very picky. There is no gray. It's black and white," she said. "If I'm looking for a project manager and your profile says 'project management,' I won't find you."
Kohut also said it's important to use the key word at least three to five times throughout your profile — for example, in each job entry, the summary and under technical skills.
"If you can find a way to say the word multiple times, you will appear higher in their search. The tense of the word also matters. So if a recruiter searches the term budgeting, 'budgeted' won't be found."
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2. Get into the recruiter's head. "I look at a resume for 5 to 10 seconds. If I like it, I will look at it for 20, and then I will stop and take some sort of action," said Kohut.
But before a recruiter even has your resume in hand, they must find you, and all start by searching for candidates by job title. Job titles appear in bold on your profile under Experience and should reflect the common titles recruiters are searching for today. "One of my clients said his company called him a resultant — a great title, but no one is searching for a resultant."
Using a title that is more descriptive rather than "founder" or "owner" is also important, as job descriptions are collapsed on a mobile device on LinkedIn, leaving only the titles visible.
3. Use the right Zip code. Kohut said she always searches for candidates by Zip code. "Let's say I am looking for candidates within a 25-mile range of the company I am recruiting for," she said. "If you are looking for a job in Manhattan and you live in Suffolk County, Long Island, I won't find you. You should have a Manhattan Zip code on your profile."
You can choose how your location and other profile fields appear to other members from the introduction card on your profile. This is where you insert your Zip code. Your LinkedIn profile typically shows your geographic region and not the specific city you live in.
4. Have at least three recommendations. At the very least, these should come from someone who works with you, for you or you work for, said Kohut, adding that she does not give much credence to LinkedIn endorsements that tout a person's skills. But recommendations from leaders within your industry are always a plus.
5. Choose the correct industry. You can only choose one industry, so make sure it's the correct one, said Kohut. "On LinkedIn there's financial services and there's banking. If you are looking for a position as the director of finance in the pharmaceutical industry, you want to choose pharmaceuticals, not finance."
6. Establish a large network. Joining LinkedIn and creating a detailed profile is the first step, said Kohut. "Knowing how to grow your network is the next essential piece of the puzzle," she said, adding that the best place to get started is with the people you already know, such as former classmates and co-workers. Then add people you meet at networking events.
In her book "Absolutely Abby's 101 Job Search Secrets," she advises that job seekers join groups in which people have similar interests. "If you are a scientist, you may want to join a biotech or pharmaceutical LinkedIn group. ... If you are a nurse, you may want to join a group for a specific hospital in your area or a group that discusses health-care issues." Once you join, you can send out requests to connect, she said.
You need to establish second-level connections so recruiters can find you, said Kohut. "Otherwise, you will be a third-level connection and to a recruiter that means nothing." She added: "Your first-level connections are not as important as the people you don't know — the second-level connections."
Job seekers at a minimum should have 200 connections, she said. "Once you get to 200, go for 300; once you get to 300, try for 400. Just keep adding, adding adding. If you are a job seeker, you can't have a large enough network.
On the flip side, large networks also help job seekers establish a connection with the hiring manager. "If you find out who the hiring manager is and you have a second-level connection, you could ask them to pass along your resume," said Kohut. "If you can't find the hiring manager, you look for their boss or if you can't find that person, you find the VP or the C-level person."
7. Include your email address or phone number in your summary. And mention that you are looking for a job. Some people think it's too personal, but if you are looking for a job, you want recruiters to find you, said Kohut. "You want recruiters to call you as soon as they find you. If we are first-level connections, I already have your email address. But if you are a second-level connection and your email or phone number is in your summary, I could just go right to you."
Kohut also offered advice for those who want to keep their job search confidential: "If you don't want your boss to know you are a job seeker, you can put in your summary 'I would love to network with you if you want to talk about the stock market. Or about the trends in finance. Here's my email address.' That says to recruiters I'm looking but it's confidential."
8. Be an active LinkedIn user. Posting regularly, even daily, is an effective way to stay visible within your professional network. You don't have to post original content; you can share something from another source. But be sure to post content that is meaningful and aligns with the interests of your connections. Avoid negativity and controversial issues and always keep it professional.
9. Always check your LinkedIn account, then check it again. "There's nothing more frustrating than me finding somebody on LinkedIn that's perfect, and me sending them an invite and them not accepting because they are not checking," said Kohut. Be sure to check your account several times a day when you are actively searching for a job.