How to use LinkedIn to Land an Interview
Networking is often touted as the most effective way to connect with companies you want to work for. This can be daunting, though, if you are new to the tech field or have no prior networking experience. If attending live networking events is not your thing, consider that there are many creative ways to connect using social media such as LinkedIn that can be just as effective as in-person socializing.
Before you let your networking nerves get the best of you, consider what a little leg work might do to get your foot in the door at the right company quicker. While you may feel tempted to take the first opportunity that comes your way just to avoid the networking scene and meet your short term financial needs, this may be counterproductive to your career in the long term. So where can you start?
Here are two variables to consider as you focus in on the best career fit for you.
Narrow your job search
Vetting a potential employer can be a crucial and efficient way to determine if the job will be right for you. First, narrow down your job search by researching companies you are most interested in working for. Be sure to consider these three areas of focus.
- Prioritize your passion. Focus the majority of your job research energy on companies that excite you. These “dream jobs” are worth putting more effort into, and will likely sustain your passion longer than those that just help pay the bills. Consider individuals you may already know there as well, as you will be more likely to get an interview at a company where you have a warm connection.
- Find your focus. Make a list of things you care about, such as education, health care, gaming, or animals. Run a quick google search for “[topic] companies near me”, see what comes up, and start your job search there. If you struggle to find things that drive you, focus your search on location, benefits, or salary. This may be challenging to filter for, but job sites like Stack Overflow have options for this. Whatever your focus, the job search process is usually long and involves combing through company websites and articles. Think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint. You can simplify your search with tools like Huntr.co to organize what you find and make it to easy reference later on.
- Follow up on social media. Once you’ve found companies that interested you, follow them on social media and LinkedIn. Make it a point to like, share, and (when appropriate) comment on their posts. Set aside time each week to stay up to date with events, job postings, or other opportunities that may be relevant and interesting.
Identify connections through LinkedIn
So you have identified potential employers and are narrowing in on specific jobs. What’s next? You could just start applying, but it may not be the most effective way to get your foot in the door. If your target companies are well-established, you might be applying for jobs against dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of candidates. Thus, consider the benefits of having someone on the inside to advocate for you. Here are four strategies to use LinkedIn to grow your network and get your foot in the door.
- Polish your profile. The social networking site LinkedIn is the best way to identify people who work at the companies that interest you and is also the most natural way to reach out in a professional capacity. Keep your profile up-to-date, and add contacts to maximize your reach.
- Narrow connections by company. Use LinkedIn to search for your targeted companies. While on specific company pages, look to see how many of your connections work there. This will make it easy to see who may be a potential networking asset.
- Utilize all connection tiers. LinkedIn utilizes a three-tiered system of connections, including 1st, 2nd, and 3rd+.
- 1st degree connections include those you are directly connected with on LinkedIn. These can be considered “warm” contacts and will be the most fruitful in gaining advocates within an organization.
- 2nd degree connections include any individuals connected to your 1st degree connections. These can be considered “cool” contacts and may take more legwork and leveraging through a 1st degree connection to get an introduction. Still, this is one of the easiest ways to expand your network.
Pro tip: Depending on your relationship with your 1st degree connection, sending a simple message sharing your goals and asking if they would be willing to make an introduction is an easy way to open the door for a new connection.
- 3rd degree connections include individuals connected to your 2nd degree connections or those you have no connections with at all. These can be considered “cold” contacts and will be most challenging to reach, but can also serve as an important resource and relationship builder.
Pro tip: If you share no connections at a desired company, search LinkedIn for your desired title + company name, then filter for those currently in the role to identify potential cold outreach candidates. Research these individuals to make sure their roles are relevant to your interests, and try to target people who are on the team or working on a project you’re particularly interested in; the more you have in common, the better!
- Be consistent. Grow your network by regularly connecting with “warm”, “cool”, and “cold” contacts. Don’t be afraid to send cold outreach messages, and be sure to include a message in your invitation to connect with individuals you do not know. Note that without LinkedIn premium, you will not be able to send messages to people outside your network.
Use these tools to focus your search and expand your potential connections, and remember to demonstrate your drive with each networking opportunity. After all, you have much to contribute and a long and impactful career ahead. Show them what you are made of.