How many of you actually USE LinkedIn? Not just having a profile, but using it to build, track and maintain career connections. Probably not a lot.
I’m preparing for a presentation I’m delivering to the UW Graduate School next week, and while I was solidifying my thoughts I found myself wondering if my advice will actually be used. (I actually think about that a lot as a career coach). I know sometimes it is – but other times the very act of attending an event or talking through something with a counselor is enough to catapult you to the next step – and actually implementing the advice comes second. Not to say these presentations are a waste of time, the very opposite in fact. If you take anything away from career advice from a stranger, take this: It’s up to you to take action.
LinkedIn is a tool that allows you to be one of a million people with a profile, because it’s expected now. The company has monopolized a professional social network, a tremendous feat within all the career services technologies that are running rampant now. They do a really, really, good job. Because of this good job, seekers and professionals become numb to advice – there are so many strategies and so many advice columns out there that it’s hard to navigate what’s useful to each person. The first step is to figure out your strategy for the tool – what are your career objectives? Here’s some examples:
- I’m unemployed and actively looking for a job. The summary is your friend. You don’t have to lay everything out there, but it’s OK to be honest about your search. What are you looking for? Who do you want to meet? Use the volunteer experience section. What have you done in your day-job gap? You could even put that on top of your experience section to emphasize what you are currently working on.
- I’m employed and actively looking for a job. The summary changes with this profile – more about emphasizing what you are good at – what do you specialize in? Promote yourself as a professional in the industry, not at the company you work for. Use LinkedIn to search for jobs and connect with people for informational interviews.
- I’m employed and passively looking for a job. Be open to new connections and conversations. Don’t be completely shut off, make sure your contact information is public to all. (at least email) Use LinkedIn to search for jobs and connect with people for informational interviews. If you then start looking your network will be there to activate.
- I’m employed and not interested in another job. Use LinkedIn to build your network to benefit your current position. Talk more about your company in the summary.
- I don’t want to use LinkedIn. So don’t.
Career services in an ambiguous industry. It’s one reason why I like it – circumstances and guidance truly changes from one client to the next. Attend events and hear from people like me who can help give you perspective on how others have done it. Then decide how you want to do it.