With over 250 million profiles, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool in your career search. But, to use it effectively, you need to think a little less conventionally about your job hunt. Too many people mistake the process of applying to jobs as the only way to get a job. The truth is, getting a job is about positioning, networking, and standing out from the crowd. Here are five ways you can use LinkedIn to better position yourself.
1. Get discovered.
Your LinkedIn profile is a way for recruiters to not only find you, but more importantly, to find out more about you. Take the time to build your profile and have your civilian friends read it over to see if it makes sense to them. Do they now finally understand what you did and accomplished in the service? If they are confused, keep working on it with them.
Pro tip: Make it easy for your old chain of command to write a LinkedIn referral by emailing them a quote from an old performance review he or she wrote.
Pro tip: Expand your reach by connecting to as many old friends and acquaintances as possible and use a portion of your group invites to join groups outside of your network. LinkedIn allows you to communicate with others based on your shared connections and whether you are a member of the same group. Doing both increases your ability to reach out to others and network.
2. Write something.
LinkedIn allows members to write posts and publish them to their network and their groups. Write about your military experience, how you hope to apply your skills to the civilian job market, or your experience searching for a job. Whatever you choose, we recommend you staying away from politics and religion. LinkedIn is a professional forum and your writing should be professional in nature.
Pro tip: Submit writing to Task & Purpose, too.
3. Find a mentor.
For those who served, there is no better time to be separating from the military. Unlike after the Vietnam War, the American public holds the military and military veterans in incredibly high regard. Use LinkedIn to search for people who live in your area and work in the industry, or even the company, you want to break into. Send them a short, professional note asking if you can buy them a cup of coffee and solicit some career advice.
Pro tip: Whenever possible, see if a mutual connection can make an introduction. People respond better when the intro comes from someone they know, rather than out of the blue.
4. Do your research.
LinkedIn is a great resource for learning about companies and the people who work there. Find former employees and ask them about the interview process and what it was like to work at the company. You can also do a search to see what companies and industries are in your area and then check out who works there and who you know to make an introduction.
5. Upgrade your account.
LinkedIn offers one year of premium job seekers service to veterans for free. This is incredibly valuable and all veterans and transitioning service members should take advantage of the opportunity. LinkedIn Premium allows you to see more profiles, reach out to more people, expand your search, and even recommends keywords for your profile.