How To Use LinkedIn Like The Best Job Seekers

Few people have the opportunity to say they found their true calling and passion in their first career -- or even second, or third. That might explain why the average professional stays in a position for a mere four and a half years, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employee Tenure in 2014.

Moving from one job to the next without any direction is tiring. But thanks to the world of social media, finding your dream job by connecting with professionals and companies is easier than ever. Here are some LinkedIn tips for the undecided and wandering job seeker:

Join Groups

Having support from others who understand where you've been and can guide you to the next step in your career is vitally important. Connecting with LinkedIn groups can help you engage within an industry in an in depth and unique way.

Start making connections with professionals by looking for groups that align with your interests. For example, if you were always interested in social sciences, look for a conversation thread on a topic that catches your attention.

Don't wait for someone to notice you -- jump right into the group conversation. Ask questions, comment on and share posts to expand your professional network. Allow these pros to guide you in learning if this is the right industry for your next career move.

Look for Your Best Fit

Success in a new job doesn't just depend on the position you're in. Company culture is a huge factor for how well you'll fit in with current employee personalities, the company's values, and if their benefits and perks match your needs. Since companies' profiles are up on LinkedIn, it's a great place to begin researching.

Read company profiles, the bios of their employees, and pay close attention to what they're posting. If they seem like people you could easily relate to, reach out to current employees to get an even better perspective of how the organization treats its employees.

Once you've narrowed down your search to a handful of companies you're passionate about, identify the ideal role you want within the organization. If you find a company with a cause you're passionate about and with people you connect with, it's time to look into ways of applying.

Use a Pro account to connect with InMail

InMail has changed the availability of professionals. We once had to dig through company websites in hopes of finding an email or extension for the person we wanted to connect with, but now we can connect in one click.

Use InMail to directly reach out to a few expert connections you've made in your groups and companies of interest. However, if a Pro account and InMail isn't an option for you, don't give up. Research professionals you'd like to network with through other reliable professional resources, like ours, where you can identify and communicate with leaders in your industry and then see if they'd be interested in connecting through LinkedIn as well.

Ask if you could conduct an information interview via email, video chat, or even in person. Opening the door for a casual, informative discussion allows you to get a better understanding of what the company has to offer, how your passions align with the field, and an overall bigger picture of your area of interest.

Be prepared with questions about their typical day, growth opportunities, satisfaction, mobility, and any other important aspects. Don't forget to follow up with a thank-you note and your interest in any future opportunities.

Brand Yourself

Recruiters are all over social media, so having a positive and professional presence is crucial. In fact, Jobvite's 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey found that 87 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to evaluate and engage talent. This is why the content and appearance of your profile are huge in getting you to the next stage in your career.

Be real and honest in who you are, but remember to stay professional. Add a light and fun touch with your interests and unique facts about yourself. Don't overgeneralize by using cliches -- everyone is "dedicated" to their work and a great "team player." Be creative and specific about your skills. Show how you've proven you're dedicated and a team player through measurable examples.

Stay active and on professionals' newsfeeds by updating your status with projects you're working on, events you're attending, or even what you're reading and watching to stay visible. Follow major influencers and stay in the know on industry trends so you can add value to discussions with your network and showcase your expertise.

What are some Linkedin tips that help you define your career path?

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.