Tom, a new client, arrives with a wealth of experience in the financial sector—and two LinkedIn connections. Plus, as a result of a car accident right after his layoff from a major financial institution, he has been out of the job market for nearly two years. But now he’s ready to get back in.
An ideal position soon becomes available at a major bank in the area. Tom knows no one there, and it’s no surprise that his two LinkedIn connections come up empty. I offer that my 800 connections might turn up something.
We search my contacts for connections to the bank (drop the company name in the search box, with the search box set to “people”), and a host of connections appear. Two “second level” connections are particularly enticing. One is to a C-level officer, another to someone right in the department where this opportunity lies. I don’t know these guys, but two of my contacts do.
Within days, I’ve got Tom talking to both of these inside connections. Tom gets a referral, and has a C-level officer following up on his submission. Thank you LinkedIn.
Out of work or changing careers?
We all know that referrals and introductions are key when looking for that next position. If you’re currently out of work—especially long-term–or changing careers, those personal connections are going to be crucial. Why? For as good as your resume is, we know two things:
1. There is a bias against hiring people who aren’t currently employed.
2. If you’re changing careers, you’re going to have to get someone to know and trust you enough to take a chance on you.
To overcome these hurdles, you’ll need to build real relationships with real people. And LinkedIn’s brilliance is that it provides a short-cut to building the relationships you’ll need.
So what should I do?
Build up your connections. Everyone can get to 100. The more you have, the more likely you’ll be able to be linked to the people you need, when you need them. (Caveat: I don’t link to total strangers, because I want to be able to confidently refer them to other people in my network. A job seeker may take a less discriminating approach.)
Always check LinkedIn (and elsewhere in your network) before applying for a job. If that job is important to you, do the extra work and get a human being on your side.
Build your LinkedIn network NOW, even if you’re currently employed. You’ll want it there for you when you need it, and there’s a good chance you will. Plus, it’s nice (and potentially financially rewarding) to be able to help your friends, who can leverage your network in times of need.
Every hiring manager I talk to says that they will first interview people that they know or who come referred. Your job as a job seeker is to become that known candidate. And LinkedIn can get you there in record time.
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