If you’re enduring the job search process, you’ve probably heard (and hopefully followed) the advice to create a LinkedIn profile. But how exactly is this different from submitting your resume to some large black hole of a resume database?
The big difference with LinkedIn is the interaction piece. Aside from sharing general updates on your news feed, upping your interaction in groups is a great way to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by recruiters.
So, how do you get started? Here are a few types of groups that will make the most of your LinkedIn experience.
Alumni LinkedIn Groups
Most universities will have official alumni groups, and this is a great place to start your LinkedIn networking adventure. You’ll want to join all the alumni groups you have affiliations with—your college’s main group, any relevant department or major groups, specific alumni interest groups, and so on. As a result, you’ll instantly have access to a massive network of people you have something in common with.
Once you’ve joined your alumni group, try clicking on the “Members” tab and using the search function to find alumni in the areas you’re interested in learning more about. You can try searching for positions (paralegal, teacher, sales director), skills (marketing, design, wet lab), or industries (oil, fashion, higher education). Once you’ve found people you want to speak with, try reaching out to them for an informational interview (because you’re in a group with them, LinkedIn won’t charge you to message them!).
Industry LinkedIn Groups
While we’re on the topic of industries, groups dedicated to specific fields are also great to check out. Try searching for a few different keywords for your industry—for example, if you’re in supply chain management, you might also want to search for “procurement,” “purchasing,” and “sourcing.” To help narrow your choices, favor groups with larger memberships or groups that are more local.
Not only are these groups a great place to learn about what’s going on in your professional world—i.e., they often discuss the latest industry happenings and share job leads—having the group logo on your LinkedIn profile also helps to brand yourself as engaged and committed pro in your field. Not bad!
Active LinkedIn Groups
There are plenty of other groups you can join—job seeking groups (“Portland Job Seekers”), skills-based groups (“Adobe Photoshop Group”), and general interest groups (“Grammar Geeks”). The options are endless!
But don’t waste your time on groups that aren’t doing much. In general, look for groups in your search results that are labeled “very active” in gray under the group description. This means there’s a lot of interaction going on in the group and new posts or discussions to read and contribute to regularly.
Another thing to keep in mind is maximizing the number of people you have access to by joining groups, especially since you can message individual group members for free. To find the groups with the largest memberships, narrow your LinkedIn search to only groups and keep the search field blank. This will populate your search with the largest LinkedIn groups. (Note: If you don’t want to have the logo of a certain group plastered on your LinkedIn profile—and reveal, for example, that you’re job-searching—don’t forget to go into the group settings and uncheck the “display logo” box.)
Once you’ve found several groups to join, don’t forget to contribute to discussions or post new discussions. On the side of groups, you’ll sometimes see “Top Contributors” to the group, and having your profile posted here definitely doesn’t hurt your chances of being found on LinkedIn by a recruiter.
Photo of happy people courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author