LinkedIn is a valuable resource for any job search; below are the most important steps to make sure you get the most out of the site and its bountiful resources. First and foremost, you need to update your profile. This includes setting your picture to a recent, professional photo; this needs to be the best representation of you! Skip the photo you like of yourself at the family reunion; if you do not have a professionally taken headshot, spend a few dollars to get them done as your profile photo is well worth it. Update your profile to explain that you are in a transitional period, and are looking for a new opportunity. Be specific, and state the industries or companies you are targeting directly in your profile or in a post.
Perform a search in your LinkedIn network for those in your target company (or companies), and ask those individuals for referrals or leads. Whenever possible, strengthen the connection by setting up a networking appointment/coffee with them. A personal connection or recommendation to a hiring manager might be the difference between an interview and the recycle bin!
When you get the interview, do not forget to include your network connections in your pre-interview research! These connections can help you better understand the company, its strengths and weaknesses, what needs you could fulfill, and perhaps other company information appropriate to help you prepare for the interview. Find out their experience with the company, and who else you might be able to network with in order to better understand the company and opportunities you might be suited for.
Important tip: Whenever someone is helpful enough to give you another person to connect with, always, always, do your best to follow with that referral, and let your initial contact know how it went.
When on the hunt for your next opportunity, include LinkedIn for your job search. Make sure your profile is appropriately updated and this includes a professional profile picture. Do not underestimate the power of your LinkedIn network! Search your network for industry or company connections to leverage. This is why you have a network! Hopefully your network will produce opportunities for you to further look into. Best of luck in your job search!