LinkedIn is an excellent social platform used to contact other professionals, grow your network, and stay connected with those you meet throughout your career journey. It’s also a great way to research companies you might be interested in and when used correctly, can give you a huge advantage during the application process. It may give you insight into a company’s mission and goals, help you understand their new initiatives, or give you an idea of what the culture is like based on the people who work there and the content they post. This can all be used to customize your cover letter and help you come up with intelligent questions to ask during the interview.
In addition to keeping your contacts stored and organized, LinkedIn provides a powerful tool via the alumni finder, which allows you to connect with people from your school who are working with an organization of interest or are in a career you’re considering pursuing. You already have a foundation you can build a connection or relationship on because of the shared school and relatable experiences. Simply search for your school’s LinkedIn page, follow it, and then click on “Alumni” to see all of the potential connections. Use the filters to narrow down by location, company, job title, or industry. Don’t be afraid to leverage this expansive network of alumni, as many of them are flattered by your inquiry and eager to help! Ask them to connect, and always add a quick note explaining who you are and why you are asking them to join your network (Tip: Don’t start a relationship by asking for a job).
It takes initiative to go beyond the application and reach out to stakeholders in an organization. Studies show that over 80% of jobs are landed through people you know, so this step isn’t just suggested, it’s necessary more often than not. The best way to create an opportunity for yourself is to locate alumni and request an informational interview over a cup of coffee or phone call depending on your comfort level. Leverage this time to ask questions you have regarding the organization and the person’s role or career path. Your goal when doing a meet and greet or an informational interview is not to land a job, but to get to know the person, learn something new, and build a professional relationship. This is also an opportunity for your connection to learn about you. Would you like to spend 40+ hours a week with this person? Would they want to spend that much time with you? Who does this person know who may connect you with an opportunity? What advice do they have for a college student about to enter the work force?
Many companies post their opportunities directly on LinkedIn and even some are kind enough to link the recruiter for that job directly to the posting. Connect with that person! Additionally, LinkedIn has a job search tool you can set up to let recruiters know you’re looking for opportunities. Use this tool to indicate if you are “actively seeking,” what kind of employment (part time/fulltime) you’re looking for, and set parameters for things like location, title, company size, etc.. A competitive profile will help you get the best results as LinkedIn also serves as an extension of your resume. Click here for LinkedIn best practices.