his post is about LinkedIn job search success.
Today I’m going to share a method of using your LinkedIn network in a powerful and successful way. It’s a way that won’t ask too much of your network. And it won’t feel like spam to people you don’t know that well.
LinkedIn job search success requires this specific action
When using LinkedIn for job search, you need to re-connect with people who are relevant, engaged and local. I’ll explain more below why these three characteristics are important.
The alternative is what you see from most of your connections. They send a generic “Hey, I need your help” message on LinkedIn. A communication that probably went to hundreds if not thousands of people.
No discernment or purposefulness.
If you need help understanding why this makes less sense, pay attention to how you feel next time you get one of these bulk messages.
They feel selfish. I also think (sorry) it’s a lazy way to use LinkedIn.
Now the person writing that message probably sees some efficiency in the method. After writing a well-crafted note (hopefully filled with specific job search objectives), you skip the most powerful tool you have to apply: your unique relationship with your connections. Well, at least some of them.
I’ve said before, it’s not the size of your network. It’s the engagement you have with each person.
So, instead of a mass email via LinkedIn (which, by the way, is not a license to spam) what if you acted with more purpose?
So here’s what you do:
- Go through your connections one by one
- Identify and write down the names of connections that are relevant, engaged and local
- Spend the day writing individual, personalized messages to each one
I did this back in 2013 when I decided to move back into a traditional job. Yes, it took a long time. But there aren’t many good shortcuts to being purposeful.
Going through this process is also pretty eye-opening. Especially if you are pretty liberal when it comes to your LinkedIn connection policy.
Here’s what I found after completing steps 1 and 2
- Out of 1,500 connections, about 10% met all three criteria (relevant, engaged and local).
Now I needed a message to share with my curated group of connections
So now I had 150 connections to work with and I created a “base communication” that could be modified to a lesser or greater degree as I crafted each person’s individual message. Here’s a sample message from my effort in 2013:
Hi [First Name]:
After five years of giving back through Tim’s Strategy (Idea for Job Search, Career and Life) and three years of brand and marketing consulting, I’ve decided to shift back toward leading from the inside of a company.
The last 3-5 years were highly rewarding and energizing but I’m excited to get back to leading a division, brand or product line as I did in the previous 25 years for consumer goods companies throughout the U.S.
Can you help?
Here are my objectives if you hear of anything that might fit:
LEVEL: Director or VP
FUNCTION: Marketing, Product or Brand Leadership
INDUSTRY: Consumer Goods
SIZE: Mid to Large
SEGMENTS: Food, Beverage, Automotive Accessories, Sporting Goods, Lifestyle, and Technology
GEOGRAPHY: Greater Orange County and North San Diego
TARGET COMPANIES: Company A, Company B, Company C, Company D
And, of course, if there is anything I can do to support you please let me know!
Every person got a custom version with a friendly, more personal introduction and a re-connection paragraph to encourage their engagement with me. A person needing their unique help.
Important: this note works best when it is positive and specific. If it’s not positive, people will feel sympathy (“poor Tim, he’s out of work”) instead of a more productive emotion like empathy (“Hey Tim, needs some help, let’s see what I can do”).
After a full day (about 10 hours) writing individual messages, I was tired. But the good news is that the day filled with almost immediate reactions from some of my more connected friends. That was encouraging.
And now an answer to the question you’re asking. Was it worth it? Did it work?
The answer is a qualified yes. My results surprised me in some ways in that after filtering this list with my three required characteristics, I was initially disappointed. Why?
- The bad: out of about 150 messages, 20% never responded. And another 30% responded much later and with less engagement than I anticipated.
- The OK: the next 40% responded quickly but with the standard “I’ll keep my eyes open for you”. And you might know how I feel about that statement. It’s a deferral statement and a very passive response.
- The good: about 10% came out of their shoes in support. They offered a call that day, sent specific job leads immediately or offered a call to review more about my plans.
In the next month, I received two job offers and two other interviews as a direct result of my purposeful activity on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn job search success comes when you are purposeful and personal Click To Tweet
I got my job at Kareo because of it. And (January 2017 update), I used this same method in my most recent search to find my latest role as Vice President of Marketing at Digital Map Products, cloud-based location technology, and data company.
So, to finish up, here are some details regarding the characteristics you need to look for as you review your connections.
While you could argue that anyone can help in your job search. And it’s true that I’ve shared stories about bank tellers, car mechanics and others helping with good job leads, I wanted this effort to feel really purposeful. So I chose folks who worked in my target industries, in a marketing or sales role or in a company that would fit my objectives. I wanted people who would see my objectives and be able to tangibly help in the few short minutes they might ponder my situation.
I wanted to include people who I recently connected with, spoke to or emailed with, helped personally or met at a local event in the last 6 months. The warmer our connection, the more likely they would feel engaged in my situation and therefore more likely to act on my request.
In my case, local related to the geography portion of my job search objectives. It’s not that someone in another city couldn’t help, but I wanted it purposeful. So I limited my list. And hopefully was asking something that these folks would be more likely to know or would be more open to stepping up.
Now, if you decide that you want to go further, you can curate two lists. One that might look more like my highly curated list. Or one that opens up the selection criteria to include non-local folks or other secondary industries.
OK, now it’s your turn. Try it and let me know what your results are!