Social media has completely changed the way employers view potential job candidates. Where employers used to just be able to find you on Facebook or MySpace, there are now entire social media venues dedicated to helping you find a job. LinkedIn is the pioneer in this category of networking websites. It can be your best friend if used correctly and your worst enemy if you use it incorrectly.
LinkedIn can be a great way to contact people for informational interviews, there are many people who are willing to help a young, ambitious, job seeker. However check out this exchange between our CEO and a someone seeking a informational interview.
Info Interview Seeker (IIS): May I have five minutes of your time for an informational interview? I’m currently looking for the perfect career path and I’d love to hear your story. Thank you in advance.
CEO: I am happy to connect. Where are you located? I assume we can do this via phone? The 18th is flexible for me so we can speak then. Please email me directly at CEO@NEXTforWomen.com.
IIS: You got it, CEO!
CEO (a week later): I didn’t hear from you so perhaps if you are still interested in connecting you can me me some dates and times in the next 2 weeks and I will check with my schedule. Thanks.
IIS: Hi CEO, I apologize for the delayed response. I suddenly received a large amount of emails contacting me for interviews! (hooray!) I would love to connect with you as soon as everything is settled. Thank you in advance for your time. I truly appreciate your generosity. Have a wonderful week.
This is the last time she has contacted our CEO and after an off-putting email such as that one, she may have alienated herself from a potential contact. While the effort was there, the correct method was not. Ross Wade is the Career Counselor for Elon University’s School of Communication and a LinkedIn expert. Here are some of his Do’s and Don’ts so you can avoid a disastrous interaction like the example above.
- Market self as professional not a student: If under your information you still have student listed people will still think of you as a student. Market yourself as who you are aspiring to be. Ever heard of visualizing something to make it come true? Well this is kind of the same thing only this time, other people will be able to help you achieve your goals.
- Join groups and contribute to discussion boards: Along those lines, don’t create an account just to have an account. You have to make sure that you are using it to it’s fullest potential. posting in groups and boards gets your name out there and proves to potential employers that you know what you are talking about and could be a real asset to their company. Don’t wait for things to happen, go out there and make sure people know who you are and what you are capable of.
- Add personal notes to invitations: Whether you are requesting to connect or asking for a recommendation, always include a personal note. The generic one that LinkedIn sets up for you isn’t enough. By adding just a quick personal note shows a level of added interest and attention. It demonstrates that you have a vested interest in this connection and you aren’t just attempting to get 500+ under your connections.
- Connect with professionals and network building: While IIS’s intentions were in the right place the execution was horrible. Her failed attempt shouldn’t dissuade you from contacting others. You can and should use LinkedIn to help build up your network and contacts within your desired field. Only when you do, make sure that you have the time to actually contact them. These professionals are taking the time out of their day to help you and when you blow them off it can be very telling. Often times the field in which you want to work is a small one. You never know who their friends may be. That informational interview you ditched could be the best friend with your dream boss of your dream job.
- Connect with those your don’t know: While it is ok to reach out, you should have some type of connection with them. See who they are connected with if you have any second degree connections. Then ask that connection to introduce you. It legitimizes you and if someone else vouches for you it will make him or her more likely to help you out. If you feel uncomfortable asking your shared connection to introduce you, you probably shouldn’t connect with that person.
- Forget to update your skills and interest: Some people think that having work experience on LinkedIn is enough. But it is not. Make sure have every part of the profile is filled out and completed. There is a reason why LinkedIn requests that you have this information up there. You never know who will be looking at your profile and what they are looking for.
If you follow these simple tips and really utilize LinkedIn, you may land your next or first dream job! For this NEXTer, using LinkedIn to it’s fullest potential has lead to a few interviews and (fingers crossed) a career.