In a recent post, I talked about leveraging LinkedIn as a resource to help you identify both decision makers and competitors. To do that successfully, you have to get used to doing advanced search queries in LinkedIn's vast database. I'm going to give you a few scenarios below with specific examples to help you understand how to do this. If you're not technically inclined, it may seem a little daunting at first, but if you take the time to try these tips, you'll find that a wealth of information can be available to you in your job search.
Scenario 1: Research the Competition (Competitive Analysis)
Say you want to find competitor profiles to see how you stack up against them. If you're a writer, type in "writer" in LinkedIn's search box and you'll be presented with results that include "writer" in the profiles. If you're a project manager, however, you have to include quotes around your search terms to find "project managers," instead of just profiles with the words "project" and "manager."
Type in: "Project Manager"
When you search for project managers, you're going to get profiles from various backgrounds. To exclude the non-relevant results, use the NOT feature (i.e. NOT construction would exclude results containing project managers with a construction background.) It's important that you use the word NOT in ALL CAPS.
Type in: "Project Manager" NOT construction
Scenario 2: Industry Networking
What happens if you're trying to set up informational interviews at various companies and you want to target people you may not already know? Say you're a software developer, and you know from experience that potential hiring managers would have the titles "Engineering Manager" or "Software Development Manager," etc. You can use the OR feature of LinkedIn to display both results.
Type in: "Engineering Manager" OR "Software Development Manager"
Scenario 3: Research Decision Makers (Prospecting)
Now you see a particular job at Microsoft that intrigues you, and you're tempted to blindly submit your resume. Then you remember from my columns that companies like Microsoft can get as many as 900 applications, so you don't want to be just one of the masses. You know that if you can speak to the potential hiring manager, you can learn more about the job beyond the job description and that can help you better tailor your application.