Billing itself as “the world’s largest professional network,” it’s no surprise that LinkedIn is a great place to find a job or change careers. The site offers significant opportunities for you to build relationships with professional peers and hiring managers that could open many doors for career development. With more businesses getting started on LinkedIn every day, the number of job opportunities discussed and advertised on the site keeps growing, too.

However, finding a job on LinkedIn takes time and effort. The more active you are on LinkedIn, the better you can tell your story, establish your credibility, and develop your reputation. In other words, don’t create your profile and assume that the job offers will start pouring in. You need to be active, keep your eyes open for buzz about job opportunities, and search for job openings to apply for.

When you’re ready to start your job search, here’s how to use LinkedIn to find a job.

LinkedIn Profile and Groups

Before you try to find a job on LinkedIn, you need to make sure your LinkedIn Profile is as polished as possible. Take the time to get your profile to 100 percent completion; make sure you include your most relevant work as well as keywords related to the type of position you’re looking for. Ask your connections to write recommendations for you (and return the favor), and spend time answering questions on LinkedIn Answers.

For example, many people discuss job opportunities through daily LinkedIn updates and conversations. Connect with people who work in the industries and companies you’re interested in, and pay attention to their updates. Build relationships with people so when an opportunity does open, you’re already on their radar screens.

Join relevant LinkedIn Groups and actively engage in the conversations happening in those Groups. Not only could you stumble upon job opportunities simply through discussions happening within LinkedIn Groups, but some group administrators also allow members to post job openings in a special Career Discussions section. Furthermore, some Groups include a Jobs tab where jobs posted in LinkedIn Jobs appear.

Job Search and Jobs Directory

Log into your LinkedIn account and click the Jobs link in the top navigation bar to open the Jobs home page. A list of recommended jobs is provided to you based on the information in your LinkedIn Profile. Search through the postings by typing keywords into the search text box at the top of the page to find additional results.

You can use the filtering options shown in the left sidebar to refine your search results by keywords, job title, company, location, job function, industry, experience level, and more. An Advanced Search option is also available at the top of the Jobs home page if you’d prefer to narrow your search that way.

Once you conduct a job search, you can save that search and create an email alert when jobs are posted that you might be interested in. Simply click the Email Alerts link at the top of your search results list and select daily or weekly from the pop-up box to set the frequency of your alert messages.

You can also access the Jobs Directory when you’re not signed into your LinkedIn account. However, to view all jobs, you’ll need to log in.

Company Pages and JobsInsider

Follow the LinkedIn Company Pages for any companies you’re targeting in your job search. When a company posts a new job using LinkedIn Jobs, that job announcement is also published as an activity update on the Company Page and on a separate Careers tab within the Company Page (if the company uses the tab).

Another way to find jobs on LinkedIn is to use the LinkedIn Browser Toolbar for Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, which enables you to use the LinkedIn JobsInsider tool for free. When you install the toolbar and search for a job on a site that works with JobsInsider (such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, Craigslist.org, HotJobs.com, Dice.com, SimplyHired.com, Vault.com, and more), the JobsInsider tool automatically appears as a browser pane.  JobsInsider will inform you if anyone in your extended LinkedIn network works at the hiring company. Use this information to get referrals or to request introductions to hiring managers or other key employees.

Jobs Seeker Premium

If you’re really serious about finding a job on LinkedIn, then you might want to consider paying for an upgraded Job Seeker account. With a free LinkedIn account, you can only get introduced to five companies per month and you can’t access salary information in your job searches. You can do both with a paid Job Seeker account.

There are three levels of Job Seeker accounts — Job Seeker Basic, Job Seeker, and Job Seeker Plus. Prices currently range from $19.95 per month to $49.95 per month.

Furthermore, with a paid Job Seeker account, you can get bumped to the top of the applicant list as a Featured Applicant. You can see who has viewed your LinkedIn profile, and you can allow recruiters to message you for free using LinkedIn’s OpenLink messaging system (OpenLink is used to message members you don’t know and aren’t connected with). You can log into your LinkedIn account and visit the Job Seeker page to learn more about the most current Job Seeker account features and prices.

Have you used LinkedIn to find a job or change careers? Have you used LinkedIn to hire an employee? Let us know in the comments below.

[Source: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to LinkedIn; Image Credits: Sheila ScarboroughGrzegorz Łobiński, Leszek Nowak, The_Gut, Petria Follett]