Having surpassed 200 million users worldwide, LinkedIn.com is a useful professional tool to network with others and identify professional opportunities. By following these simple five steps, you will maximize your chances to effectively use LinkedIn to find a job.
Step 1: Polish your LinkedIn profile
Before you actively use LinkedIn for any purpose, you need to completely fill out your profile. While it can be tempting to fill out only the “Summary” section, if you are going to actively use LinkedIn to cultivate relationships and market yourself, it only makes sense to do so after you have a complete, professional profile. Think of LinkedIn as an online resume and ask yourself the following questions:
Use these questions to guide your writing style and information selection.
Step 2: Join LinkedIn Groups
Now that you have a completed profile, first of all join all of the UNC-affiliated groups. When you join a group—whether job search groups, company groups, alumni groups, college groups, or networking groups—you unlock a source of networking contacts and group-specific information. For instance, if you are interested in environmental work, Click on the “Groups” button, then “Groups Directory,” and search by relevant keywords or categories. You will find an assortment of relevant groups covering most industries and topics.
Step 3: Add value to your LinkedIn Network
You can do this in two easy ways. First, by posting the equivalent of a “Status Update.” Similar to Facebook and other social networking websites, you can broadcast a status. Many seasoned LinkedIn users recommend posting updates between three to five times per week, focusing on topics that are relevant to their network. Whether articles, quotes, or questions, when you add value, people begin to view you as a thought leader. You can also add value by contributing to discussions within Groups. Again, by asking and answering questions, you enhance your credibility.
Step 4: Identify professionals in your target industry/field
Now that you have developed your profile and regularly post content, to use LinkedIn for an internship or job search, you should search for potential contacts within your groups or through http://www.LinkedIn.com/college. Within the “College” section, LinkedIn visually represents where your school’s alumni are working. Filter individuals by job, location, and numerous other criteria. Beyond searching for individuals with an ideal background, prior to interviewing at a firm, search for the company on LinkedIn. If you have the specific individuals’ names with whom you will be interviewing, look them up as well. Performing this research ahead of time allows you to understand the firm, its employees, the career path, and what you have in common with those at the firm.
Step 5: Reach out to professionals to initiate contact
Having identified industry professionals, if you are in a LinkedIn Group with them you can send them a polite, concise email introducing yourself. Mention that you are currently in school, your year, and that you are interested in working in or learning more about the relevant industry. Depending on your intent, you can highlight one relevant experience (i.e. club, summer internship, etc.) and ask an insightful question. If you appear poised and respectful, chances are that you will get a response, which could lead to a potential summer internship. Never directly ask for an internship in an introductory email. Remember, true networking is about building relationships by helping others, not simply receiving favors.
Best of luck in using LinkedIn to further your career search process.