Monday, March 29, 2010

LinkedIn --A Useful Tool for Boomers who Want to Find Jobs

I'm sure you've heard about LinkedIn, the professional social network and maybe you've heard of a newer network called Naymz.

Both of these are professional networks that aim to connect their users with colleagues.

For this blog entry about job hunting, I am going to concentrate on LinkedIn. It seems to give the job hunter more free features and has more users than Naymz, but I wanted you to be aware of Naymz as well.

LinkedIn is a network Boomers can use for professional development, to bounce ideas off of people in their field, to catch up with colleagues who graduated with the same degree as the they have and to ask experts questions about marketing, advertising, best business practices, etc. So far so good. A lot of LinkedIn's features are free, but you have to purchase "advanced" features.

These networks are excellent sources of jobs, if you use them right. I came across a couple of good blog posts on this topic, but the ones I liked the best were called How to Change the World: Ten Ways to use Linked In to Find a Job by Guy Kawasaki and How to Use Linked In to Find a Job by Dave Taylor. I highly recommend you read the entire posts for tips on how to leverage Linked-In successfully.  

The first thing you have to do on any of these sites, is take the time to create your profile. A blog post by Dave Taylor suggests that the profile is important because it makes you more "findable" by your colleagues and potential employees. Be sure to include any nick names or pre-marriage names (if you've changed your name) in your profile to enhance your ability to be found. Also:

When you initiate communication with someone else, the first thing they'll do is go and check out your profile. Even if your profile isn't that great, the fact that you've spent the time trying to make it comprehensive will tell them that you're serious, that you respect their time and attention, and that you want to use LinkedIn to its fullest capacity.
Once you've created your profile putting your best foot forward, it's time for some serious networking.I have a confession to make. I'm good at writing, and not so good at networking. When I joined LinkedIn a couple of years ago, I was timid about asking people to join my network. That was my first mistake. If you want to find a job, you have to overcome any shyness you may have, even online. Connect with anyone you may have known in a professional capacity throughout your career. Then throw in people you may know who are "thought leaders" in your field. Make sure you've had a personal connection with them, however.  Maybe you've taken their classes or spoken to them at a few conferences. Don't forget clients and vendors.Also connect outside your career path. Remember that your cousin who may be in a totally different field from you knows people!

Join whatever groups are on LinkedIn that relate to your career, your special interests,your college, your frat or sorority, your grad school, even your church or synagogue.After you've joined groups, start commenting and contributing to them. Answer questions in the ask the expert section. Discuss interesting topics in your field; make your presence known.

In his post---aside from the standard advice about updating your status to let people know that you are job hunting--- Guy Kawasaki has some advice unique to job hunters who want to use LinkedIn.
Get LinkedIn recommendations from your colleagues. A strong recommendation from your manager highlights your strengths and shows that you were a valued employee. This is especially helpful if you were recently laid off.
Find out where people with your backgrounds are working. Find companies that employ people like you by doing an advanced search for people in your area who have your skills. For example, if you’re a web developer in Seattle, search profiles in your zip code using keywords with your skills (for example, JavaScript, XHTML, Ruby on Rails) to see which companies employ people like you.

LinkedIn also has ways for you to investigate where people at certain companies come from and go to, to help you widen your search for good places to work. And you can use the service to check to see if companies are still hiring. If you have a company in mind, you can even use LinkedIn to find people who are willing to walk your resume to the hiring manager, giving it a personal cache, Guy says.

The key to networking (or “schmoozing”), however, is filled with counter-intuitiveness. First, it’s not who you know—it’s who knows of you. Second, Great schmoozers are not thinking “What can this person do for me?” To the contrary, they are thinking, “What can I do for this person?” For more on schmoozing, read “The Art of Schmoozing.”
In his blog post, Dave Taylor gives detailed instructions about how to find the people that your colleagues know. He points out that once you find someone you want to get to know, you can "Get Introduced" on LinkedIn by asking people who ARE linked to him to "Introduce" you. Taylor points out that if you are new to LinkedIn you might not be able to use the "Get Introduced" button. In this case you can try to use "In-Mail", which is LinkedIn's internal email system.

The message you send will determine whether or not the other person responds. It's like being at a party: if you go up to someone you find attractive and say something stupid, well, odds are you won't be successful in your attempt to connect. I strongly encourage you to be brief, polite, somehow weave in some overlap between their experience and your own ("Turns out we both went to Colorado Tech too. When did you graduate?"), and make it clear why you're contacting them. I'd also recommend something like "If you have the time, I'd like to suggest we meet for a cup of coffee too: I'm just getting into the job market here in the Springs and would like to hear more about your experiences too. I'm happy to buy!
Best of luck with your job searches, Boomers. I hope some of this helps. Here are some other resources with some great advice about using Linked-In to hunt for a job:


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