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How To Leverage LinkedIn for Your Next Job Interview

A man sitting at his computer doing research. By Laura DeCarlo

LinkedIn and the other social networks are increasingly popular and also increasingly useful in your job search.

Social networking sites like LinkedIn.com and Xing.com have two terrific applications for the interview:

1. Identifying individuals at target companies or in target industries for informational interviews.

2. Learning more about your interviewer before the interview.

Let’s look at a scenario:

As an example, say you have your heart set on working as a Program or Project Manager for Motorola, but do not have any contacts at the company. You have tried all the traditional strategies – talked to everyone you know, networked through the local chapter and e-lists of Project Management Institute, visited the company’s website, and done your homework to find the decision makers. Now, you feel like you are hitting a wall and getting nowhere fast in finding or reaching the right people.

What do you do?

Get onto LinkedIn.com and Xing.com. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on LinkedIn.com, which claims to have over 100 million registered users in 200 countries, making it a rich resource for you as a job seeker or professional intent on progressing in your career.

Once registered (for free) with LinkedIn, finding, and learning about, target professionals is very simple. Just click on the ‘advanced’ link to the right of the search box, and pick as many categories as possible. For this target candidate, I found all I needed by using the company boxes – I typed ‘Motorola’ into the company name box and used the pull down menu to select ‘current’ (to find individuals who work there now).

From my search, I immediately struck gold! I found a Senior Program Manager, a Program Manager, and a Senior IT Executive.

NOTE: With a free, personal account, you can only see 100 listings at a time, so you will most likely want to filter your list by performing a search with keywords such as “HR”, “recruiter”, or “program manager”. For example, if I add ‘HR” to the keyword search, seven HR professionals with Motorola are displayed on the first page alone, with 10 pages total of results. The key word ‘recruiter’ brings me seven pages of results. Finally, the keywords ‘program manager’ bring me 10 pages of results.

So, now I have a list of key professionals at Motorola who represent Human Resource Managers, Recruiters and Staffing professionals, potential peers at the program/project manager level, and technology managers (who might be your future boss).

With this information, you have an inside track to these professionals for potential networking, information gathering, positioning of employment documents, and interview preparation. How?

  1. Click on a name, and if it’s not set to private, you can learn more about the person such as what LinkedIn group memberships they hold, which you might also be interested to join.

    (Another way to find groups is to perform a Group search for project management. There you will find several groups for this field. This is valuable because this is where those industry professionals are networking and connecting).


  2. See if you have any LinkedIn connections that are connected to your target so that you can ask for an introduction.

  3. Learn more about career positions with the company by reading descriptions that are posted in personal profiles by current employees.

  4. Identify an individual to contact with your targeted resume and cover letter, or for an informational interview.

  5. Discover things you might have in common with an individual to break the ice in opening conversations or when planning for an interview.

Bottom Line

Social networking sites like LinkedIn make it possible for you as a job seeker to rapidly identify decision makers, read employee-written job descriptions, and connect to individuals who were previously hidden by the walls of the corporation and the protection of the gatekeepers. Once you have this information, you have the keys to the kingdom and can begin using the contacts to put your strategy into place for the perfect job or informational interview.

 


Image of Laura DeCarlo

Laura DeCarlo is recognized as the career industry’s ‘career hero,’ making a difference to both job seekers and career professionals as the founder of Career Directors International. She possesses 11 top-level certifications in resume writing, career coaching, and career management; seven first place resume and job placement awards; and has written three books on interviewing and job search including Interview Pocket RX, Interviewing: The Gold Standard, and Job Search Bloopers. Follow Laura on Twitter @careerhero. This article is reprinted by permission from Job-Hunt.org.

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