According to data collected by RecruitingBlogs.com, 80% of all jobs are landed because of networking. The problem is, there are only so many networking lunches and coffees a person can have before they run out of steam.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some ideas with you on how to use LinkedIn to find a job. As you know, LinkedIn is a terrific social networking tool for salespeople, but it can also be a terrific tool to use if you’re looking for your next job.
One of the best ways to use LinkedIn to find a job is to use your college affiliation to help smooth the way. People who have graduated from college often view that period of their lives very fondly, so they’re typically very happy to help other people who share their college experience.
Here are some quick tips on how to connect with people who attended your college or university:
1. Connect with your alumni group. The first step is to become a member of your university’s alumni group on LinkedIn. Virtually every college and university in the world has one or more. Just go to the Groups Directory and search for the name of any educational institutions you attended. You’ll find that some schools have multiple groups, so join as many as appeal to you.
Once you’re a member, scan the group’s Discussions, Members and Jobs for networking opportunities. For instance, join a discussion of fellow alums talking about your industry, comment on an article someone has posted or introduce yourself to the Group Manager, who is often a representative of the Alumni Association (often a very connected and helpful person).
You can also start your own discussion, perhaps posting an article with a few personal comments or posing a question to group members. Or, you can introduce yourself and your goals: “Hi fellow Eagles: I’m new to the group and excited to connect with fellow alums. I’m currently looking for a job as an accountant and am eager to connect with any other job seekers. Thanks!”
Remember also that LinkedIn permits you to send a message or connection request to anyone with whom you share a group on LinkedIn (as long as that person has opted to accept such messages), which will help you build one-on-one relationships with individual group members.
2. Use the LinkedIn Alumni tool. The LinkedIn Alumni tool provides you with information about where your fellow alums work, what they do and where they live. The tool pre-fills the years you attended a school listed on your LinkedIn profile and shows you the classmates who attended at the same time. For a broader search, you can enter additional graduation years.
Let’s say you are looking for a job in public relations at a university or nonprofit organization in the Atlanta area. The tool helps you narrow your vast alumni network to those who live in Atlanta and work in public relations. You can scan the list of “Where they work” and find the universities and nonprofits where your fellow alums are employed. LinkedIn Alumni will show you the exact profiles of the alums who fit all of your criteria.
Considering a move to Phoenix? Just start a new search and click on that region under “Where they live” and all of the data will change to show you fellow alumni in that geographic region instead. If you attended more than one university, you can use the “change school” feature at the top of the page to explore other colleges and universities.
I spent a little bit of time at Oxford University while I was in college, so I thought I’d take a peek at the other people who were at Oxford while I was there. It turns out a woman named Jennifer Barr was there at the same time I was. Jennifer is a Social Media Marketing Manager at Cisco and has spoken at TEDxBerkley. My first book is called How to Make Money with Social Media and I speak around the globe on the topic. So, Jennifer and I have Oxford, social media and speaking in common.
Guess who I’m going to reach out to next time I’m on LinkedIn?
During the same search, I noticed that a gentleman named Ed Simnett is a mobile and technology executive working in the San Francisco Bay Area. My second book, Go Mobile, is about mobile marketing. So, Ed and I have Oxford and mobile marketing in common, which means I have another person to reach out to on LinkedIn.
And so on and so on.
3. Connect with your fellow alums. Once you’ve identified some alums in your desired field and location, it’s time to make contact. While there are no guarantees, fellow alums are more likely to reply to a networking request than random strangers because you share a common experience.
Ideally, your message will mention your alumni connection early on. It’ll also be polite and professional and show that you’ve done your research on the other person (signifying that you’re not just sending out generic blast messages).
Remember, you never want to sound desperate and you never want to ask directly for a job or to send a resume. The goal here, as with any good networking message, is to establish rapport and ask for general information and advice.
4. Connecting on LinkedIn via mobile device. Don’t forget that LinkedIn has a terrific mobile user interface which is easy to use and a great way to make connections or do research just prior to your job interview. If you haven’t already downloaded LinkedIn to your smartphone, just visit your app store and download it now. More importantly, use the app! There’s no point in downloading LinkedIn’s mobile app if you’re not going to put it to use.
Here are a few ways you can use LinkedIn’s mobile app to help you find a job:
- Just before your job interview, do a search on the company so you can refresh your memory about key facts and figures
- Check for any news about the company or the industry just before walking through the door so that you’re up-to-speed on the latest news and events
- Review your interviewer’s biographical information while you’re waiting in the lobby or riding the elevator
- Check to see if you and your prospective employer have any mutual connections. If so, mention them in the interview
The bottom line on using LinkedIn to find a job. LinkedIn is a terrific tool that can be used in a variety of ways. If you’re a salesperson, you can use it to connect with prospects. If you’re an employer, you can use it to review prospective employee’s background information. And if you’re looking for a job, you can use it to connect with potential employers and smooth the way to a successful interview.
Those are just a few of the ways people are using LinkedIn to look for a job. What are some of your favorite LinkedIn tips and techniques? Let us know in the comments section below.
Jamie Turner is the CEO of social media and mobile marketing firm 60 Second Communications and is the Founder of the 60 Second Marketer. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.