Cast your doubts aside. You absolutely can learn how to use LinkedIn to find a job. But to do so you must be very careful. Social media can be a wonderfully efficient tool or a monumental waste of time. Here’s how to harness the power of LinkedIn to advance your career and/or find a job.
1. Understand the Power – and the Danger
According to the company itself*, the site has over 131,200,000 members. They get 87 million unique visits a month. 58% are men and 42% are women. The top industries/users are:
- Entrepreneurs 12%
- Sales 10%
- Administration 10%
- Academics 9%
- Operations 9%
You can find people who work in just about every major Fortune 500 company and in just about every industry on the site. And as you’ll see, it’s very easy to connect with others on LinkedIn.
You can see how powerful this tool can be – but you can also see the danger. Since there are so many people there and so many potential connections, your wheels can easily get stuck in some very thick mud if you aren’t extremely focused on what you are there to do.
And while we’re on the subject, if you are going to use LinkedIn to find a new job you’re going to have to be patient. Please don’t expect immediate results. Using the strategy below, you might indeed find work fast – or you might have to spend time developing relationships. Be ready for either scenario. If you absolutely must find work fast, I suggest you also consider using a headhunter in addition to using these techniques.
2. Your Profile
Before you start trying to make new connections, you have to complete your profile. This is not super difficult but you must devote time and effort. Consider it your online resume and take this step seriously. Please schedule a few hours to this task before going any further.
3. Contacts – The Fast Track
Now that you’ve created a killer profile, you’re ready to start business networking. Select “Add Connections” and LinkedIn will use your email accounts to search for people with whom you communicate and who are also on LinkedIn. Then you can send out a blanket request to create a LinkedIn connection with them. They make this very easy.
Next, use the search bar to look for all the people you know (or used to know) and connect with them as well.
4. Connect With Your Connections
Once you have a tribe of contacts who have accepted your invitation to associate, let them know about your situation. If appropriate, ask for job leads by all means. And make sure to ask your friends to provide recommendations for your LinkedIn profile too. This is just the basic approach. In order to really make LinkedIn work; use my interviewing technique as well. Ask your connections if they know someone in the industry or (better yet) company you are targeting.
Explain that you would like to learn more about the industry and/or company and would appreciate any assistance they might provide. And assure your friends that you won’t be hitting these people up for jobs.
Go back to my post on interviewing and networking and approach these people with respect and integrity. It’s very important to live up to your word with your contacts. Interview them to learn and develop relationships with these people. Even though you won’t be asking these interviewees for a job, this process is by far the most effective means possible to getting your foot in the door even though it can take some time to manifest.
5. Kojak/ Columbo
If you don’t have any connections in the industry, you’re going to have to work a little harder. Go to the “Groups” tab and select “Groups you might like”. LinkedIn makes it easy to find the people you need to connect with. The site recommends groups for you to join based on your profile.
Check out the various groups and get involved. If the group is focused on finding employment, that’s great. But get involved with other groups as well as long as they are connected to your industry. Again, try to connect with people and be of service to them before you start asking for favors.
Once you establish yourself in the group, go back to step 4. Let people know you are interested in job opportunities of course. But also tell them you want to get to know the industry and company by interviewing others. Just make sure you are ready to give before you start asking to get.
You can also use your detective skills to find companies and people who work in those companies directly. Use the search bar and select either “Companies”, “People” or even “Jobs”. Find people who work at your target firm or industry but tread lightly.
The site will automatically tell you how close or far removed you are from this person. You only want to connect with people with whom you have a 2nd degree connection. That means you are connected to someone they are connected with as well. Time for an example.
Let’s say you look up XYZ Company because you want to work there. The site suggests you connect with Jane because you have a 2nd degree connection with her. The site tells you that both you and Jane know Bill. He is the common connection.
All you have to do is contact your old friend Bill and ask him to introduce you to Jane. Easy. But I suggest that you don’t work this on someone if you don’t have a 2nd degree connection or better. It’s just not the best use of your time to hit up friends of friends of friends.
You can use all these techniques to learn about your target company and industry. If you do, and you are patient, you will find your way to HR and a job interview. Let your contacts know what it is you are looking for and be open to job leads. Also, interview as many people as you can about the industry and company you want to work for. Be of service to others and stay connected. Devote at least an hour a day to your job search and once you’ve established your network, keep it alive.
This will be your opportunity to give back – and have a ready-to-use mechanism in place next time you need to find work.
Have you used LinkedIn or other social media sites to find a job? How?