From time to time I get connected with someone early in their career who is looking for advice on finding a (better) job. While we typically talk about resumes, creating a personal brand, and understanding their MBTI or Working Genius, when it comes to getting out there and meeting people, there's only one tool that I focus on: LinkedIn. LinkedIn should be every businessperson's best friend, but especially jobseekers.
It's the only tool on the market that gives you almost unrestricted access to the vast majority of white collar workers in the U.S. (Twitter comes in a very very distant second).
So here's how to use it.
Should you go on there and start asking people for a job? No! Instead:
1. Update your profile
Your profile doesn't have to include everything you've ever done, but instead should tell one comprehensive and progressive story that succinctly explains who you are and what you do. Make sure it contains all relevant work experience and uses the language and terminology of the jobs that you want to apply for, as well as metrics (increased X by Y%), etc. Remember, you're your biggest advocate when it comes to your resume, so make sure it sings.
2. Look for companies that interest you.
This will probably start with a search outside of LinkedIn. For example, you might search "companies with best work/life balance" or "best place to work in Nashville" or "best jobs for someone with a degree in X." Once you find companies that you're interested in, go back on LinkedIn, and type that company into the search bar. For example, let's say Apple was one of the companies you wanted to work at. Your search would come back with something like this:
3. Check for connections
Now, you can see in my results that I am connected to seven people who work there, and LinkedIn already thinks I might be a good fit for a few jobs. My first step would be to click on the connections and see if I really know any of those people (often, I'm connected to people I don't really know). If I do know them, then that's my starting point, and they'd be the first person I'd reach out to.
If I don't have direct connections, my next step would be to add another search term.
By clicking on "People" I can add the name of the university I attended to see if I have any connections (you can also do this with previous employers, etc). The goal is to find a connection with people there, and most of the time, if you have the same alma mater, you'll have no problem starting a conversation with them.
4. Check for job openings
You could technically start with this step, but regardless of when you do it, it's important to have a sense of what the company is hiring for, and what you might be interested in. It's important that you not apply for any positions, however.
5. Ask for an informational interview
Once you've identified the people you want to contact--either through a connection like the same school or previous employer, or just because they're in a similar role to the one you want--reach out to them via messaging and ask for an informational interview. And what is an informational interview you might ask?
It's essentially a reverse job interview. Instead of you asking for a job, and them interviewing you, you just ask if you can have a few minutes to learn about what they do and what it's like working at that company. This takes the pressure off of them ("Is this person asking me for a job?" "Are they trying to sell me something?"), while making them feel valued and important.
You should have a list of questions to draw from ahead of time that are relevant to the positions you're interested in, the culture of the company, and the person you're talking to. Be genuine and ask questions about what you really do want to know about the company.
That's really all there is to it. I would say 90% of the time, when someone has granted me an informational interview, they have also offered to submit my resume for me. This is important because most resumes never get past the algorithm at the company (or on LinkedIn/ZipRecruiter, etc) into the hands of a human hiring manager. When an employee submits your resume for you, however, it typically goes straight to the hiring manager, bypassing the algorithms and red tape. It doesn't mean you'll get an interview, but it certainly helps! Don't force this, but if you feel a connection in your conversation, it's ok to mention that there's a role you're interested in and ask them if they'd be willing to recommend you. If you're hired, it looks good for them, and it usually doesn't take much effort on their part to submit your application in their internal system. I hope you find this helpful, and if you want to have a conversation with me, feel free to reach out.