Sunday, November 20, 2011

Linking In to a Career

It's important to, at the very least, have a LinkedIn account and manage your brand there well when you're a professional on the job hunt, and connect to all the people you've ever met. Here's an article about using LinkedIn to promote your business or yourself. Here's another article about how to get started on LinkedIn including some information on using it as a job search tool.

Here's my advice for using LinkedIn as a job hunting tool based on what I've been doing, which I gleaned from lots of advice from other people:

First, use the "jobs" tab. Just like any other job search website, LinkedIn has job listings that you can narrow down by location, description, etc. You can save your search the first time, and then it's only two clicks to use the same search terms again. Many companies only list their jobs on LinkedIn, and lots of them allow you to submit your LinkedIn profile in the online application process.

Second, join "groups" that connect you to other professionals with similar experience and interests. There are groups for alumni of various colleges or programs, groups for holders of certificates and certifications, groups based on locality, hobbies, and just about anything else you can think of. Find other professionals in your career field or in your vicinity with these groups. The groups often have new discussions posted daily by members where you can interact, and often there are recruiters who post jobs in the groups instead of listing it on LinkedIn's official "jobs" tab. Seeing a job in groups is helpful because you can often send a message to the recruiter after you submit your application. In groups, you can also start your own discussions, which can be as simple as posing a question to the group, linking to an interesting article that fits the group's interests, or linking to your own blog entry (like I do).

Third, research companies that you're pursuing. This is especially good for finding connections in specific companies - your own contacts, but also second and third-level connections or fellow members of groups. If you have connections at a company, send a message or email them asking them for advice on the company: what's is the corporate culture and work environment like? What is the interview process like? Do they have any advice or recommendations for a job hunter like yourself? If the connection is second-level, then send a message to your first-level mutual connection asking for an introduction - I do NOT recommend using LinkedIn's built-in "get an introduction" feature; instead, message or email your own connection, explain that you're looking at this particular company and saw that they know someone who works there, and ask for an introduction.

If you have a LinkedIn Premium Job-Seeker Account, you can also send "InMail" to people to whom you have no connection, up to five a month. The cool thing is that LinkedIn guarantees a response - if the person you contact doesn't respond within two weeks, LinkedIn credits you with another InMail. This allows you to contact recruiters, hiring managers, or members of departments at your targeted company, asking them for their input on your pursuit of the company. Remember to make your inquiries about their advice to you, not just a request to do some action in your behalf.

LinkedIn is just a platform, but there's lots of great information there about the companies you're pursuing and lots of opportunity to make connections that may be helpful.

How do you use LinkedIn?

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