Networking is primarily the art of connecting with peers and colleagues to further your career advancement and development through mutual and beneficial cooperation. Unfortunately, most recent grads ultimately fail to realize that networking is not about taking, but also about giving.
Networking is one of the most valuable tools in job searching, and unfortunately for most, does not come easily. LinkedIn is a valuable and accessible social networking tool, with over 300 million users worldwide, that all professionals and recent graduates should use to connect and interact with prospective employers. Here’s a list of five LinkedIn job search and networking tips:
1. LinkedIn is a job board
LinkedIn is not just about connecting with professionals – it is also a career centre. As of right now there are over 76,000 Canadian job postings (you’ll see this number change on a daily basis). Job postings through LinkedIn are important because they give you more access to prospective employers – usually the job poster’s profile is attached to the listing. Take some time to do some research of not only the company, but also of the hiring manager or recruiter. This is valuable and insightful information that is often not available when applying through traditional job boards like Workopolis or Monster.
2. Make connections
Don’t be afraid to make connections with senior management in your career field. LinkedIn is a perfectly acceptable method of introduction, whether it be through one of your existing contacts or not. For example: decide on an industry you want to enter, find a company you want to work for, do some research on the company, as well as its employees, and connect with HR managers by way of introduction through a mutual acquaintance or by approaching them yourself.
An example could be messaging the hiring manager of a small manufacturing company: “Hi, X. My name is Robert and I wanted to connect with you because I have an interest in working with your company. I noticed on your company website that you are looking for a production supervisor. I think I would be a great fit for this opportunity because of A, B and C.”
In the example above remember that networking is based on reciprocity; professionals do not connect with other professionals without a reason, or without the expectation that you can help one another. In this example you are connecting with someone because you feel you are a qualified candidate. You benefit by getting a job, and your connection benefits by potentially filling one of their roles. You’ve also stuck out from the crowd, made initial contact with the hiring manager, and skipped the queue all in one connection. I would also advise following up with a phone call the next day.
3. LinkedIn lets you scope out the competition
There are few professional social media outlets that let you browse your direct competition. Although job applications are confidential, LinkedIn does let you look at professionals similar to yourself. Use this to improve your profile and resume. Obviously do not steal people’s job description bullet points, but look at the professionals in your industry and see how you measure up, where you can improve, and what you are good at.
4. Wisdom from your peers
LinkedIn is a pool of wisdom if you’re willing to look for it. There are options on LinkedIn to “follow” (not connect) with “LinkedIn Influencers.” Use this to your advantage, and take note of what industry leaders have to say about a variety of personal and professional issues.
Join groups with other like-minded professionals in your field or location. There’s a mountain of wealth to be learned in LinkedIn groups, and they also provide a way to align your connections and network along your chosen career path. Job searching is increasingly turning to social media and online profiles, and professional groups are often where peers and colleagues congregate to discuss industry hot button topics, opportunities, market trends and more.
Read more on LinkedIn here: