Remember the adage “knowledge is power.” Knowledge comes from information, information comes from data and the larger your set of LinkedIn connections becomes, the more data you will have at your disposal to turn into valuable knowledge when you are searching for a job.
How big of a network should you strive to attain on LinkedIn? There is no one right answer . But bear this in mind: As your network of first-degree connections grows, your expanded network of second- and third-degree connections also grows exponentially. So does the amount of information you will be able to obtain in your job search.
The search bar at the top of LinkedIn’s homepage enables you to tailor your search for people, jobs, companies and posts. When you double-click on the search magnifying glass icon, you can run an advanced search using multiple criteria.
The number of search filters available is limited with free accounts. Still, even without upgrading to a paid account, you can find out quite a bit about companies that interest you, people who work at these companies and much more. The following searches will tremendously aid your job hunting.
Find people with whom to network.
Suppose you want to network with a particular kind of manager, such as marketing executives. If you type “Director of Marketing” in your search box, it may yield a massive number of responses, depending on the size of your network. In your author’s case, that search yields over 9 million hits, far too significant to be manageable.
However, by systematically applying additional filters, you can narrow the search down to just the few that will best meet your needs. If you want to find people through mutual connections, use the “connections” filter and click on “2nd.” That brings my results down to a little less than 300,000 — still an unmanageable number.
You might then use the location filter. In my case, searching in the “Greater Boston Area” further restricts the results to about 30,000.
Next, you might zero in on your target industry, schools attended (choose your own to build a strong connection) or even current company if you have a target company in mind.
Ultimately, by gradually narrowing the focus of your search , you’ll come up with a manageable number of results.
Research a company.
Suppose you are creating a target list of companies, or you are already in dialogue with recruiters at a particular company and want to know what it is like to work there. First, check out that company’s own LinkedIn page.
One good way to learn about an organization is to connect and speak with people who used to work there. To do this, use the “Past Companies” search filter, along with others mentioned above. When you use job titles or other keywords, you can identify the people who used to work in the area of the company you’re considering.
Often you can reach out to people like this, and they will be happy to tell you about the company culture, issues the company is facing and, if you are lucky, even about the people with whom you are likely to be interviewing. Beware, however, that you may encounter people who left a company on less-than-favorable terms and they may share their sour grapes with you. That’s why it is essential to speak with more than just one person so you can get a broader perspective.
Network your way into a company.
Search for a company and see if you have connections who currently work there. Many companies have an employee referral program, and your connection may benefit by being the one who introduces you to HR or the hiring manager.
There are many other ways you can use the search function to identify particular opportunities. Remember that you don’t need to rely on LinkedIn’s search filters. You can do a complex Boolean search, using “and,” “or” and “not,” just as you can do on Google or other search engines. If you aren’t familiar with Boolean searching, know that there are numerous articles and YouTube videos that can teach it to you in short order.
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