Thursday, September 13, 2012

How Heroes Should Be Using Linkedin

There are an inordinate number of fluff pieces “teaching” those in transition out of the military (or already out) how to use LinkedIn for job search. This won’t be one of them.
While it would be great if all military personnel had a LinkedIn profile from the time they entered service (not sure if the respective branches would like this idea), at the very least each of you should consider creating one the moment you put in your EAS papers. It doesn’t have to include the grandiose, tell-all content the “career experts” instruct you to have (I’d include a link or two but there are so many and as far as I can tell they all say the same things) but should include some key “identifiers” of your time in such as:
  1. The recruiting station that put you in the service (if you can remember that);
  2. Your first “Camp” – as well as all subsequent “Camps”;
  3. Your “Tours”;
  4. Your chains of commands (you’ll see why in a bit):
  • Air Force: Base, Wing, Unit…
  • Army: Divisions, Brigades, Battalions, Companies, Platoons, Squads…
  • Coast Guard: District, Division, Unit…
  • Marines: Regiment, Battalion, Companies…
  • Navy: Command, Fleet… (don’t expect too many folks to say they’re part of SEAL Team 6 – remember, it doesn’t exist)
  1. Your duties and “accomplishments” for each (I’d consider not mentioning “kills” anywhere in your LinkedIn profile – those who haven’t served or those who don’t have a solid connection to the military can be a bit squeamish);
  2. Honors and Awards: List all of your military accolades.
  3. Summary: This is the toughest part to write because many of you are transitioning out – and you really don’t know what you want to do. That’s finedo you really believe many new college grads feel any different about their career direction? Yet what you do know – and I’ve spoken to enough folks who have transitioned out to know this is true – is whether:
  • You like to work with your hands;
  • You like to work with your mind;
  • You prefer Coke over Pepsi (use other comparisons too);
  • You prefer Ford over Toyota;
  • You buy or use a specific company’s products or services (make a list)
We’ll return to this list a bit later on – but you’ll see why I’m suggesting such a granular detailing of your service (just a pre-FYI, the Summary might be the hardest part of your LinkedIn profile to write).
The bottom line about LinkedIn is that it’s a tool to help you connect to people who are either like you (or were once like you) and who might be able to connect you to people who are perhaps more like you  – and finally to people who are in direct position to help you get into a company – or profession – of your liking.
Let’s see how someone transitioning out of the Army might use LinkedIn to make a BIG difference in their career search:
(incidentally, noticed I didn’t write “post military”; for some, the process of “finding” a career might actually lead you BACK into the military)
My Dad’s an original soldier in 10th Mountain Division – I’m talking WWII original (you might see why I’m using the Army as an example).  The 10th is the most deployed Division in the Army – so let’s use them as an example of how you might use LinkedIn to develop your network.
Once you’ve logged in to your LinkedIn account:
  1. Click on “Advanced” next to the People box (upper right side).
  2. In the “Keywords” box, type in: “10th mountain division” OR “tenth mountain division” (with the quotes – notice how only OR is capitalized)
  3. Click on “Search”
1,173 people on LinkedIn with some connection to the Mountaineers…
You’re probably thinking, “I don’t know these people – and even more, why they would they want to help me?”
Because you share a common bond; do not for a single second think otherwise. My soon-to-be-89-year-old Dad goes weekly to the VA hospital near Ft. Hamilton for treatment and when he sees other – and far younger – 10th soldiers, the walls come down and they’re yapping away like they’ve known each other for eons. Shoot – he’ll even sing the original – and highly bawdy – 10th song to these folks. They all laugh and talk about battles, guns, life…
So start looking at the profiles of the 1,173 people and note the ones who were part of the 10th but also live in an area where you might want to live…for example, Chicago, IL:
  1. Go back to the results page (the page with the 1,173 results);
  2. In the “Postal Code” box, type in “60607” and select “50 Miles” in the “Within” box
17 people live in a 50 mile radius around Chicago…
Connect with all of these folks and ask them if they wouldn’t mind being Mentors to a transitioning Mountaineer. When you do connect, I know you’ll play “20 Questions” with each person – and gain a very solid networking buddy.
Just so you don’t think I’m being biased to one branch over another, run the same top search if you’re a Marine:
  1. Click on “Advanced” next to the People box (upper right side).
  2. In the “Keywords” box, type in: (marines OR USMC) AND (“Force Recon” OR “Force Reconnaissance”) (with the quotes and parentheses; notice how OR and AND are capitalized)
  3. Click on “Search”
347 people on LinkedIn with some connection to Marines who were part of Force Recon…

More Tips, Examples, and complete RecruitingInferno article

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