(Reposted by request, from original post of July 2010)
Every day I hear from frustrated job seekers who have applied for literally hundreds of jobs online, with no apparent result. Resumes are falling into black holes at an unprecedented rate, as far as I can tell. That is a lot of time wasted searching and filling out forms online that may never be read by someone at the other end. Put another way: it is a lousy return on the investment of time.
My response to this complaint is always the same: don’t waste your time there. Focus on networking. Usually, whoever I’m talking to assures me that he or she is networking. We must not be talking about the same thing. Networking is not a passive activity that a computer does for you. Simply posting a profile on LinkedIn or a resume on a job board is not going to do much for you.
Using LinkedIn means data-mining. I’ve literally spent hours on targeted searches based on one person’s profile. Let me show you step by step how it has worked for me and has definitely been time well spent, in terms of the return on my investment of time.
1. Pick one person you are connected to on LinkedIn and open up their profile
2. About mid-way down the page on the right side you will see three gateways to the world. We’ll use me as the example:
a. “Emily’s connections”…this is a list of everyone in my network that you have access to if you are also in my network. Scrolling through this gives you exposure to 500+ (in my case) people from all walks of my life. Each of those people, in turn, has connections. You could spend hours just deep-diving into the profile of each of my contacts to see who’s there. For example, If you see from my profile that I know someone you’d like to meet, or who works for a company you’re interested in or has a job you’d like to have, just go back to my profile and ask me to make an introduction. If I agree to do this, I am giving you direct access to someone who knows me or knows of me; therefore it is a few degrees warmer than a cold-lead (approaching someone you don’t know or have any connection to.)
b. “Emily recommends”…this is a list of people to whom I’ve given my endorsement – people I can personally recommend. When you look through the people and recommendations on this list, you may find someone you’d like to be introduced to or you may get ideas of people who could write a recommendation for you.
c. “Viewers of this profile also viewed”…this is a list of people whose profiles were read by people who read mine. For example, looking at this list in my own profile, I can see that someone who viewed me also viewed Bill Gates. Hmm, I wonder why? Let me click on Bill Gates to see if we have some common interest or experience that would lead someone to be interested in both of us. Now I can see Bill’s profile and – no way! – I find that I am actually connected to him through someone in my network! (Literally – I just discovered it this minute!) If I want or need to be introduced to Bill Gates, I can ask the guy who connects me to him to make that introduction. If he truly knows Bill Gates, then I have a much better chance of getting a response than if I Google’d “Bill Gates” and sent him an email.
Now, there is no guarantee I’ll get that introduction – could be Bill and I are connected by an acquaintance who doesn’t know me well enough to put me in contact with Bill. But…maybe he WILL!
If you spend a lot of time job searching online, this is a much more fruitful approach than being one among hundreds of resumes flowing through some company’s key-word-search filter.
Try it! You can use my profile to start – if there is someone I know who could be of use to you, let me know. Maybe I will make an introduction for you or have another suggestion that could be useful. I realize I may be inundated with your requests but, if you serve or have served in the military, I promise to make my way through them and get to yours eventually!
(For more on this topic, read my blog post from September, 2009, Job seekers: Are you using these resources? )