Anyone who’s been using LinkedIn for their job search for a while understands the great value it can be. It’s tremendous for creating a profile in order to be found, for finding contacts at companies you are pursuing, and for preparing for an interview by learning about your interviewer and others at the organization.
However, people often miss another way LinkedIn can be used to help them greatly in pursuing their job search with a more laser-like focus… finding and defining your target companies and positions!
In a job search, many people have difficulty articulating the type of position they are looking for, a title, or specific companies they are interested in pursuing. LinkedIn can be a terrific resource for researching roles and finding companies to pursue that may have those types of roles.
Here are some tips that may help…
Search keywords to find job titles! If you are looking for positions that might utilize skills you have, however, aren’t sure of all the roles out there that might use those skills… use the “Advanced Search” function of LinkedIn. In order to find positions where those skills are used, do a keyword search of those skills. Start broad and narrow your search if your results are overwhelming. Start without narrowing your location in order to get a broad swath of results.
The people that come up in your search are people with skills listed that you search. Browse through those results to see the job titles and types of roles those people do. Read how they describe their jobs to see which ones look appropriate, realistic, and interesting to you. That helps you begin to define the types of positions you would like to target.
Search titles to find companies! Once you’ve narrowed the titles of positions you are pursuing, you can find companies that have employees with those titles. Simply do a search, within your geographic area, or more broadly of those titles. The people that come up each currently work, or previously worked at companies that hire those backgrounds. You will likely find large companies, small and mid-size companies, companies that are well known, and companies you’ve likely never heard of. That helps you begin to define your target list of companies you may like to pursue.
Use combinations to narrow your search. If you are pursuing a broadly used title (i.e. Business Analyst), you will likely need to narrow your results by using combinations of keywords of skills, title, and location. Even then, depending on the number of connections you have, you may get hundreds or thousands of results. However, by scrolling through quickly, you should be able to find the relevant information you are looking for.
Use the contact names you find as well. The results you find will help you define the target jobs, titles, and companies you would like to pursue, and will also provide you potential contact names at those companies! Each of the people you find could be a good contact at their organization, and may be able to point you to the best contact for you to present your resume or “Elevator Speech”. You can find multiple ways to connect to them. You can find some help by reading “I got a contact name… how do I reach them?”
Pursuing specific companies whether they have a position open or not is often the best way to gain a new job rather than competing with the hoards that are all responding to job postings and ads. You can gain more insight and help to do it well here and here.
Defining your target positions and companies well, will help you become far more successful in your search. LinkedIn is an ideal tool to help you do it effectively.
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.