Part one: Look into Career Paths, Research People and Follow Companies
Are you guilty of logging in to LinkedIn to just look at people's profile pictures, check out the latest updates and browse? Not to worry, you are not alone. In my experience in career consulting many people tell me they have LinkedIn accounts but have no idea what to do on the site. People tend to grossly underestimate the value of actively engaging on LinkedIn. Most use LinkedIn to search for jobs and network with others. I advise all my clients, if they are in the job market, to log on to LinkedIn several times a week, if not daily. With millions of users LinkedIn is an awesome place to gain information about career paths, skill sets and industry news!
How to discover career paths:
To learn about career paths on LinkedIn
Search your connections for people who are doing what you aspire to do and review their profiles.
Read their profile in reverse to determine what they did prior to their current job. This will help you see how they attained their current position.
Make note of what qualifications they have, the keywords used in their profile and what types of activities they've been involved with.
While everyone's career path will be different, use this approach to gather ideas for new ways to find the job you seek.
If you do not have any connections with people who hold positions which you aspire to, search for new connections in relevant industry specific groups. LinkedIn has a fantastic “groups feature” which provides a place for industry professionals or people with similar interests to discuss business, share content, ask/ answer each other's questions and sometimes post jobs. If you join the right groups, you could learn about industry trends, and have current information about the industry for which you are interviewing. This will aid you in arriving to your interview prepared to discuss the work and ask good questions.
Research People and Follow Companies:
Another best practice for using LinkedIn while job searching is to follow companies which you plan to (or desire to) interview with to research the company. This is a strategy I have personally employed, here’s why:
Companies will often share different information on their LinkedIn Company page than what is presented on their website.
You can also see their current and former employees and read company status updates.
Prior to the interview, find out whom you're interviewing with
review their profile on LinkedIn
Most people go to interviews with no information about who they will be meeting; while the prospective employer has read your resume and likely Googled you. With the access that LinkedIn provides, this should no longer be the case. Go into the interview armed with a little knowledge about what led your interviewer to their current position. You may even have a few shared connections! Use the information you find about your interviewer to “break the ice”. Should you make it to the second or third round of interviews this will prove to be helpful as you will be introduced to more people at-varied levels within the company. If possible, make a habit of finding out who you will be speaking with and get to know each person that will interview you.
LinkedIn is an invaluable tool that could be used to give you leverage as you job search, network or consider learning a new skill or career. When using the site, think of it as a free career counselor with endless information, right at your fingertips!