This post is part of TNGG’s Career Week.
In recent years, social media has been an essential tool for our generation in maintaining and initiating relationships. We’ve used these various media to stay connected with friends from college, link up with former colleagues, and even keep track of that guy/girl you’ve had a crush on since the party the other weekend.
Among these social media outlets is LinkedIn. It’s my most helpful and favorite gem, not only for maintaining contacts, but reaching out to new ones as well–especially with regards to seeking employment.
Some may be thinking that LinkedIn isn’t worthy of being called a “legitimate” social networking site because it doesn’t host the array of social and recreational features that Facebook, Myspace and Twitter do. Although, LinkedIn offers something more valuable in terms of connecting more efficiently: Less clutter!Because LinkedIn isn’t used to to send videos, news stories, random rants and pokes, information sent through this outlet has the opportunity to reach a target with a much higher response rate.
On occasion I would see people tweet, “Just sent my resume!” Or,“Look forward to hearing back from you,” which I think could be problematic, given the impersonality of tweeting and comment-posting.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is very interpersonal and allows people to connect directly, one on one. Since LinkedIn is a largely untapped market for this type of networking, it has huge potential for setting your application apart from the others.
I’ve listed a couple pointers and things to keep in mind when using LinkedIn in this manner:
Update and Polish.
Your LinkedIn represents the work you’ve done, you’re doing, and what you want to do. Be clear and concise. Include your interests, career goals, and even a personal bio. Though you won’t have met anyone yet, personalizing your LinkedIn will allow employers to see your character. Include a blog or Twitter handle if you think it will better reflect your personal qualities.
Don’t be afraid to make a random connection. It may feel weird at first, but, try thinking about it this way: Getting a random message (that’s not super creepy) intrigues people more than it angers. Many people welcome these types of solicitations about their jobs; it makes them feel special!
Work Your Way Up.
I’ve found it most helpful to contact someone lower down in the company before applying. Not only will they have insights on the expectations of entry level positions, but they’ll be able to help you with the application process, and possibly give you pointers on what to include and what should be emphasized. At least one person in any organization will talk to you.
The Big Cheese.
Once you’ve done the above, apply and reach out to upper management. Be specific, and find the person in your desired department. Add the person on Linkedin and identify them as a “Friend.” This is the only way to add a contact without being a colleague or classmate. When reaching out to the person, be formal, but not a robot. Tell them that you have applied for a job there, and are looking forward to hearing from them (but with more flair!). Showing some personality will differentiate you from the monotony of application pitches.
If all goes well, you will be on your way to an interview… Or at least a contact. Just think, if you do this multiple times, how many contacts you could acquire! Go out there and don’t be bashful. This process doesn’t take long and can’t hurt your chances. Like the great Michael Jordan said, “You miss every shot you don’t take.”