If you were a fan of baseball during the Sammy Sosa / Mark McGuire homerun love fest, you remember watching both sluggers knock balls out of the park night after night. McGuire’s forearms were bigger than my legs. Have you seen a picture of Mr. McGuire lately? He looks normal. Today McGuire would likely be a slap hitter, dinging base hits just over the second baseman or shortstop.
That’s the difference between looking for a job using LinkedIn to see how you are connected into opportunities and just looking for a job.
In 2001 my family moved from Chicago back to Atlanta. I had been working for an online marketing company and every Sunday there were 8 pages of marketing jobs in the classifieds of the Chicago Tribune. The Atlanta Journal had two columns, primarily get rich ideas. It probably didn’t help that the online world was imploding.
My job search consisted of tapping the few people that I knew, going to networking events where I knew no one, searching the online job boards, and attempting to tap into the Georgia State Alumni group. It was a long frustrating 6 months which resulted in me working for free or in my case a 100% commission job selling health insurance, which I had never done.
If I made that same move today, it would be a different story. First, since I knew we were moving about 4 months in advance, I could have started building my network in Atlanta. I would have started by seeking connections to people in my network that were located in Atlanta. I would have joined as many Atlanta based groups as I could find.
I would have also started searching the available jobs to see how I connected to it, and then work my way in. Much of this work could take place through LinkedIn, so it would have been easy to manage it while working my day job.
Another item of importance would have been to see if there were any LinkedIn related specifications and work to make sure my profile was up to speed. Two that I have recently seen are “prefer someone who is connected to our company” and “prefer someone with ten recommendations”.
The first one is simple. I would have started by doing a keyword search on “Atlanta” and “Lions”. Connecting to a couple of these folks would expand my network tremendously. Next I would work on connecting to people that were employed at companies in my industry, and also to those connected to people in my industry.
The second one takes a little work, but I’m certain with a little work I could have built my connections up above the ten recommendation benchmark. If you have less than ten recommendations I suggest your read Part 5 of this series and get to work.
Finally I would download the jobs toolbar. This toolbar would allow me to search through the non-LinkedIn job search boards that have partnered with LinkedIn. On these sites the toolbar will show you how you are connected into jobs, just like on the LinkedIn site.
If you find yourself looking for the next opportunity, here are some suggestions:
1. Work on your profile…do you have a photo, do you list your previous employment history, do you have a summary that sells you, do you have at least ten recommendations?
2. Build your connections…find relevant connections, connect to others in your industry, connect to some LIONs.
3. Join relevant groups…when posting a job discussion use it creatively. “I need a job” vs. “Anyone have any connections to (specific company) or (in industry)”. In the top part of the discussion ask your question. In the details section explain why you’re asking. Direct people back to your newly updated profile for more information on you. Finally be careful how often you post.
4. Ask questions to help research companies or industries
5. Search the Jobs section and see how you are connected into opportunities
6. Download the jobs toolbar…search for jobs at these sites as well: Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, Craigslist, SimplyHired, Dice, or Vault
7. Tap your network for introductions
8. Use the “What are you doing now” feature to let your network know that you are job searching. Update this every Tuesday and Friday.
If you’re one of those folks looking for a job I wish you luck. It’s a tough market out there and you should make sure that you are using LinkedIn as a resource to find your next opportunity.