Use LinkedIn to be informed and proactive during a job search.
By Robin Reshwan, Contributor
Ready for a new role? Afraid that you are missing out if you don’t go looking for a new job? It has never been easier to be tempted but harder to be noticed than it is in today’s job market. There are many paths to a new role: job postings, outreach calls, networking events, job fairs, referrals, social media and more. However, the relatively low barriers to applying for job postings means that thousands of candidates can apply for a role from the comfort of their home. The high volume often floods a company’s Inbox and makes it more difficult for truly qualified candidates to stand out. If you are looking for better ways to support your job search efforts and distinguish yourself, here are three strategies to try using LinkedIn.
Boost your insider knowledge using ‘Content’ searches. If you click on the “Search” field at the top of your LinkedIn page, you will see a drop-down for People, Jobs and Content. If you choose Content, you will be taken to LinkedIn’s feed of posts by users. Within this section, you can refine and access posts on any topic of your choosing. For example, if you are a sales professional looking to make the move to customer success, you can search “Customer Success” to see recent posts and discussions on the subject. A quick read of the posts will give you an excellent overview of what the market is writing or thinking about related to customer success.
Next, look at the companies and individuals that are posting. The posters are writing to create brand recognition, promote something, establish expertise or provide thought leadership. Additionally, they could just be passionate about the topic with no other motive. No matter what the goal of the post, analysis of who is posting gives you companies and contacts who have a vested interest in the topic. This community is often more accessible to a job seeking stranger who wants to learn more about an employment area and related trends. The more you can engage and grow in your knowledge and insight, the better candidate you are for future roles. You may also come across insider opportunities where there is growth, but no roles posted yet. Identifying bright spots or pain points before formal hiring starts is where the proactive job seeker can secure roles without having to compete with hundreds of other applicants.
Search for ‘Jobs’ using keywords. Most people search for positions using the desired title. Armed with more nuanced information from your Content searches, make a list of critical keywords and related concepts that are likely to show up in an ideal job posting or company description. This move enables you to find roles that may have a different title than expected. It also helps you to identify new roles and functions that may be ideal if you pivot from your current role. For example, if you have a career in operational excellence and are ready for a change, “center of excellence” is a modern concept employed by companies looking to champion operational excellence.
To search by keywords, start in the search box at the top of your LinkedIn screen, select Jobs and then enter your keywords. The results will be any job post that has “center of excellence” in the job description. Although many of the positions will not be the exact right role for you, you now have a list of companies that have or value a “center of excellence” and are hiring. These can be great targets for proactive outreach for other positions.
Network specifically. LinkedIn has more than 500 million profiles. It is one of the best networking research tools available. Successful networking involves strategic and specific “asks” of others to advance your goals. It is not effective (nor appreciated) to go to your contacts and ask that they send you any job leads. The better route is to refine your request so that it requires less from your contacts and is more likely to get a response. A LinkedIn “People” search can help with this process. Start with a list of potential companies for your next career move. Use the search box and select People. One strategy is to identify contacts you know who work at the targeted companies. Or, you can use a People search to locate potential hiring managers at a desired company.
Once you have a list of who is the right hiring authority, you can see if you have LinkedIn contacts who are connected to the desired manager. Limit your request to, “Hi Mary. I am targeting a move into the health care industry and have read really fascinating things about Acme Corp. I noticed that you were connected to Bob Manager, the VP of Quality. Is he someone you would feel comfortable introducing me to? I would like to ask him about the Center of Excellence they are developing and the related growth plans.”
This exchange minimizes the effort required from Mary and demonstrates you have a plan for the outreach – not just, “I want to work at Acme Corp. and am sending messages to every name I can find.” It also reminds Mary of your area of expertise – which is likely to stick with her in case she hears about other “center of excellence” related opportunities.
In summary, by deepening your knowledge of a sector or career path and creating specific ways to be proactive, you have a much better chance to uncover an ideal role. Additionally, with extra research and effort, you become a more compelling and competitive candidate. Being resourceful, informed and proactive are three traits in demand by every growing business.