Using LinkedIn for Job-target Research

Many (or most) of you are probably on LinkedIn to some extent (if you’re not you should be–  LinkedIn is an awesome tool for getting results in your job search.  But are you really getting the value out of it that you could be?  Use LinkedIn to advance your search in three ways: 1) Research career options, organizations, people you should contact, or to prepare for meetings/interviews, 2) Get interviews via building and leveraging your LinkedIn network, and  3) Get interviews by contacting people directly who you don’t know.  All of these are of course covered in my book.  In this post, I’m going to share some LinkedIn features that are useful for job-related research.

A note on the importance of research: it’s your best friend in the job-search.  Use research to  a) explore career/industry changes- research possibilities to narrow down the list, b) learn how to market and “sell” yourself effectively for different positions, c)  find companies you want to work in, to focus your efforts, d) find people to contact in those companies, e) prepare for meetings or interviews.  Here’s an overview of the LinkedIn features (all accessed from the top menu) to use for each of these areas.  For more information, check out LinkedIn’s help feature (in the main menu under “More”, “Learning Center”), or read my book!

LinkedIn “Answers”: Use this feature to ask people in different fields or industries about their professions, the skills you need to excel, how to position yourself effectively for career change, which career is right for you, etc.
LinkedIn “Groups”: Find groups that represent targets you may be interested in.  For example, if you are interested in Human Resources Management, do a search using those keywords, and join one of the groups you find.  Then monitor or contribute to the discussions, or ask questions of group members.  For this approach to really be effective, you need to find high-quality groups, meaning– a) a good number of active, interesting discussions (many groups have this feature, but other unmoderated groups are dominated by member sales-pitches), b) a large number of members who are employed doing what you want to do (or who can hire you).
LinkedIn “Companies”: When you go to the company page, you will see a list of the organizations people recently left the company for, or came from.  This feature can be useful in coming up with ideas for other organizations to target in your search.
“Advanced” People Search: Use keyword searches, job title searches, etc. to find people in your network or in shared groups who do what you might be interested in doing, or who are in a position to hire you.  Then contact them for informational meetings (initiating this contact is both a science and an art– the subject of a future blog post).
LinkedIn Profiles: Do a search under the names of your job-target role-models.  Their public profiles (if they are complete enough) could give you a clue as to how to attain similar success, or make a similar transition.  Similarly, look at the profiles of people who you are meeting/interviewing with, to help you prepare– e.g. asking the right questions, proposing the appropriate solutions or sharing the right examples from your experience.