How to Secretly Use LinkedIn to Change Careers

How to Use Linked In Secretly to Change Careers | CorporetteHow do you use LinkedIn to get a new job — without alerting your coworkers or boss that you’ve got one foot out the door? Reader B has a GREAT question:

I am nearly six years into my first job, which is in commercial insurance. I want to transition out of this industry and thought augmenting my LinkedIn profile would be helpful (to show up in search results, connect to new contacts, etc.). HOWEVER, my entire work history and a good proportion of my contacts skew insurance. Since my current co-workers can view my profile (through second and tertiary contacts – I am not directly linked to any of them at present), I don’t want to raise any red flags at my office. Any suggestions?

Excellent question! I’ll be 100% honest here: whenever I get a little LinkedIn activity notification that someone has updated their experience, I wonder whether they’re starting to look around for a new job. I suppose it’s a bit like wearing a suit — if you never, ever wear a suit to the office and then one day, you do, everyone starts to wonder whether you’ve had an interview that day. But if you’re savvy about your LinkedIn usage, though, you can get around that. (Pictured: Secret, originally uploaded to Flickr by val.pearl.)

I think there are two phases to using LinkedIn to change careers. The first phase is the research phase, when you want to discreetly look at other people’s profiles, see what connections you might have, and join a lot of new groups in your target industry to get an idea for the conversations happening within the industry. Even this can be tricky, but if you change your settings you can do it mostly on the down-low.  (Log in –> click your name on top right –> “Settings” –> Privacy.  You can turn off your activity broadcasts, limit who can see your activity feed, and more. The other thing to consider is Groups — you can change which joined groups are visible on your profile page by going to Settings –> Groups –> “Groups Order and Display” –> Member Setting.) You may want to ask a friend who’s privy to your job-hunting plans to make sure that these settings have worked and that, say, joining a group did not result in her getting an activity notification email.

I would recommend using the research phase to a) figure out which skills you need to acquire in order to transition, as well as which skills you should highlight when you update your own resume, and b) figure out who you may know who you can talk to off-line. Look for people who are in your ideal career, as well as people who have transitioned out of your current career and how they did it — even if they’ve transitioned to a different career they may have some great tips for ways to distill your insurance-specific skills and experiences into a more general resume. You can do a lot of networking

The second phase is the “I’m actively applying to jobs and expect people to check out my LinkedIn profile” phase.  If you’re already working with a recruiter he or she may be able to tell you when you enter this phase — in some industries, as soon as you submit a resume people will be looking at your online footprint, whereas other industries it will be only when you’ve reached the “strong candidate” stage.  I think you have two ways to go here: the first is to build up your LinkedIn profile so it resembles the resume you’re shopping around — focus on your general skills, decrease your insurance-specific experience, showcase all of the new-career-specific groups you’ve joined, and so forth.  The second option is to DECREASE your online footprint — just have the companies and years on there, and hide some of the insurance-specific groups that you’ve joined. Your LinkedIn profile won’t really be working for you — but it won’t hurt you either by making you seem like a diehard insurance fan.

I do think there’s a third phase as well, which is what most people seem to address when talking about how to use LinkedIn for job hunting — commenting on various groups so you’re thought of as an expert, having a very built-out LinkedIn profile so recruiters can find you, even changing your headline to something like “Experienced insurance manager looking to transition to X.”  I think a lot of this advice is better suited for people who have been laid off, or are hunting for a new job out of school — but if you’re actively employed it can be a little hard to make those changes without making it obvious that you’ve got one foot out the door.

Readers, how to you use LinkedIn to change careers or hunt for new jobs?  Have you found that it helped you, hurt you, or didn’t make a difference in your last job change?

Comments

  1. debt and savings :

    Threadjack – sorry.
    I was reading through yesterday’s comments and wanted to stir up a conversation on one of the money points. I’m a junior big-law associate and have been aggressively paying off my loans but keeping a decent quality of life – nothing too fancy. Someone mentioned yesterday (about a different previous post actually) about really building up your savings while in big law to keep future options open. I was wondering how people split their income in terms of paying off loans vs. saving. I have no major purchases coming up – no kids, not nearly ready to buy property, etc., and I thought the best idea was to pay off the loans as quickly as possible but now I’m second guessing that and would like to hear what others have done. I should mention I do max out my 401k each year in terms of savings, but not much else. Thoughts? Experience?

    • I am just over 4 years out law school and am mere month away from paying off my student loans. I graduated with just shy of six figure debt, and have been aggressively paying off my loans, as well.

      My thought is (whether right or wrong), paying down debt is “saving.” In a sense. I have a 6-month Screw You/Emergency fund, max out my employer 401(k) match, and try to put extra money towards short-term savings. Once I pay off the loans, I will give myself a “raise”, but the majority that now-freed-up money will go into savings.

      Also: I am getting married next year, and our plan is to live off my salary (with the slight “raise”) throw the “extra” money into short-term savings and at my mortgage, and his salary into long-term savings. I think we will end up saving over 50% of our gross.

      • 2/3 attorney :

        loving the “Screw You Fund”!

        • Me too! It reminds me of what my mom calls “mad money,” aka the amount of cash a girl should carry on a date (enough for her share of dinner and a cab) in case things go south.

          The “Screw You Fund” sounds like the grownup version!

    • I was at a firm for 2.5 years. I focused on paying down my loans and paid off about half (70K). I went to a nonprofit with my loans cut in half but very little in savings. I kind of wish I had been able to save a bit more before leaving, but what’s done is done. I think that it makes the most sense to put a bit everywhere–some in your 401K (I saved about $30K in that time), some in savings (emergency fund–about $10K) and the rest toward loans. But it really depends on how comfortable you are with debt, what your long term goals are, etc.

    • bailey270 :

      I was/am in a similar position. I graduated law school in ’07 and went straight into big law, with the intention of paying everything down asap and putting all my money in that direction (other than 401k). Then in ’08/’09, friends and co-workers started getting laid off. I shifted my goals to save somewhat (5-6 months of living expenses in an ing account). After the layoffs were generally over, and I was lucky enough to have kept my job, I switched tactics again, aggressively paying off loans but also putting $500-$600 a month into savings/investments (for me, a fairly conservative investment fund at Vanguard). At this point, my loans are about 6 months away from being paid off, I have a decent amount in savings, and I’m starting to look to switch out of big law in the next 6 months to a year. If I’ve paid off my loans before the switch happens, I plan to put the amount I was using towards my loans into savings as long as I’m in big law.

      I have friends, however, who are more comfortable with more in savings, and are happy to pay the balance of their student loans over the next 15 or so years (some of them have already paid off a portion of the loans, but are comfortable with their current monthly payment).

    • One perspective I used was to consider my effective interest rate – one of my loans was at 6.8% which is way better than any of my investments were doing… so after building up a decent emergency fund, I first aggressively paid that one off (“earning” myself the no longer applicable interest rate) before moving on to my lower interest rate loans.

      If your rates are low (my largest loan was at 3%), but you hate having debt hang over your head (like I did), my approach was to split it rather than to aggressively go for retirement/long term savings over the debt. And I mentioned this yesterday, but forcing yourself to make large debt payments is a good way to make sure you’re in a savings pattern… I am continuing to pretend that money doesn’t exist, while it goes straight to savings.

    • karenpadi :

      Great job! The fact that you are thinking about this puts you way above most of your peers. Maxing out your 401k is really an excellent thing to do.

      The allocation between savings and paying down debt is really a personal decision. What I did/what you might want to consider:

      1. Pay minimum on loans until I built up a 3 month cushion (expenses, not salary). Your cushion size may be larger or smaller. Do what’s comfortable so a sudden expense doesn’t require going into credit card debt.
      2. Look at your loans. I’m guessing that if you are a junior associate, you have high interest rates (>6%). You aren’t going to get a better return on your savings than that.
      3. Experiment to find a balance between paying off loans and savings that works for you. I had an of money that I considered “savings” or “debt repayment” each month. I ended up putting 2/3 to loans and 1/3 to savings. No real reason–it’s just the ratio that helped me sleep at night.
      4. Have a plan for your bonuses. I always gave myself $1k from each bonus to splurge on something. The rest, well, sometimes it went to loans and sometimes to savings. I measure my savings in terms of months of expenses so if I was at 4.5 months of expenses, I’d use the bonus to get to the next “round number” like 6 months of expenses. The remainder went to the loans.
      5. If you have money left over at the end of each month, have a plan for that. I check my accounts every quarter (or so) and transfer extra money to savings but you could also use that money towards loans.

    • Former Partner, Now In-House :

      I was the one whose previous comment was mentioned yesterday. I graduated with $105K, which was a full law school tuition + living expenses when I graduated. I paid my full loan payment every month, and I sent my entire bonus to the loan people every December/January. At the end of my 4th year, there was a some of my bonus left over after I paid off the last portion of the loans. While I was doing this, I was maxing out my 401K every year (and maintaining an emergency fund), but not saving anything else.

      After I paid off my loans, I never instituted a formal saving program. What I “saved” was just whatever I didn’t spend. By the time I left BigLaw it was plenty of money, but it could have been more if I had been thoughtful and strategic about it.

      In retrospect, the smartest thing I did was not collect any debt. I paid cash for my car, and I paid off my credit cards every month in full.

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I still have a big chunk of law school debt to pay off, but it has always freaked me out to not have a rainy day fund, so I have been trying to do both. My rainy day fund is nowhere near as much as I would like, but it’s hard to do both save and pay down loans, especially as London is super expensive.

      I have definitely not been paying down debt as aggressively as I could have been, but while I was at university/law school/a trainee, I never had any money and I hated it so much that I’ve tried to find a balance between spending a bit and enjoying my salary and also trying to pay stuff off. I did use a big chunk of my bonus last year to pay down loans since I felt like that was ‘free money’ and I wouldn’t miss it anway since it was extra, and I plan to do the same this year (hopefully I will get one!)

      So yeah, you’re not alone and I’m definitely wondering about which would be better, saving or paying loans. Sure, I’m losing the interest by not paying my loans more quickly, but I’m more worried about having access to liquid cash in case of a lay-off/emergency. It’s all very well and good paying down my loans, but I can’t get that money back in case I suddenly stop having a salary so I think I would rather have something saved up.

    • I spent 4 years in faux-Biglaw. Because I started in ’08, most of that time was spent worrying about getting laid off. I paid my minimum loan amounts, but aggressively saved the rest. When my brother paid me back ~20k that I had loaned him in 2007, I did use that to pay off my one high interest (6.8%) loan.

      Now I am in-house, and in a position to buy a home because of those savings. After I buy a home, I will focus on building my savings back up. With a mortgage around 3.5%, I will also divert more funds to my ~5% student loans in the next year or so. I also plan to continue saving at least $5k a month, not including my maxed out 401k. Right now I am keeping my savings in an American Express personal savings account, because I’ve never made money investing in the stock market. Even my 403b from 2003-2004 is now worth less than my initial contribution.

    • I am a third year, so my loans were at 6.8/7.9. I took the position that I could not get a higher return on my money through any reasonable investing strategy, plus I hated having the loans and felt like I had no flexibility to even consider a non-biglaw job until they were gone. That said, I have maxed out my 401k every year since finishing law school. I’ve paid off my crushing student loans and am now in savings mode. While I still had loans, we kept about $20k in savings. We are very frugal, and my husband’s job is very secure, so this was an adequate cushion for us. Depending on your monthly expenses/family situation/tolerance for risk, you may want more. I paid $5k/month on loans and twice a year paid any amounts in the bank over $20k to the student loans.

      My husband has some undergrad loans at 2%. We are going to pay those off over 30 years because we can get a better return with investments.

    • I put 3% of my salary into saving, 7% into stocks and 25% into paying down debt. My student loans were consolidated at 6.125%, which is a foolish mistake I wish 21-year-old me hadn’t made (I had one at 3.5%), but oh well.

  2. Chicago meetup tonight! :

    When: Today, 5:30pm. I’ll be there until at least 8pm.
    Where: Encore Liquid Lounge (171 West Randolph Street). The address I gave in previous posts is for the associated restaurant, just around the corner. Very sorry!
    Transit: near the Clark/Lake el stop
    Parking: Hotel Allegro next door has valet parking $12 for 3 hours (ELL is associated with the hotel).
    I’m 5’7”, mid-thirties with brown hair and bangs. I’ll be wearing a black skirt, green cardigan and a hopeful smile!
    Terry (ChicagoC o r p o r e t t e atgmail.com)

    • Terry – I can’t make it tonight, but I’m in Chicago and would love to meet up some time! I will shoot you an email to the address posted above so you have my info. Thanks for organizing, and I look forward to meeting you soon!

      Jesse

    • Moonstone :

      I’ll be there, but not ’til 6 or so. Thanks for organizing this.

    • D@mn! Didn’t see this until far too late! Hope there is another Chicago meetup!

  3. Threadjack – and an actual fashion question at that. I am a neutral, boring kinda gal. I am TRYING to spice things up but I don’t trust my own judgement yet. But I want something a a little crazy and a little out of the ordinary for my usual look. So if everything else was neutral, how do you feel about these shoes

    http://www.zappos.com/product/7975008/color/354642

    Are they too cheap looking (specifically the heel)? Thanks ladies. Other similar recs are welcome.

    • @FP Angie: I like the leopard w/ neutrals, esp. camels/blacks. I just bought a pair of leopard calfskin low heel pumps, so I’m clearly biased. :)

    • **DISCLAIMER** My opinion only. I don’t like those shoes at all. Unless you can help me visualize the “boring” wardrobe you’d be wearing them with, I’m having trouble seeing them look cute. They look cheap (on the screen) because of both the shiny heel and the faux (i assume) fur.

      Again, I am not an animal print/animal hair shoe person, though I do appreciate high quality animal print on others.

      • I totally get it. I don’t want to invest in a pricey pair of animal print because I know I won’t wear them *all* the time. So I’m trying to balance cheap looking vs. affordable.

    • I think they do look a bit cheap. I’m trying to put my finger on the exact reason – I agree with Brant about the shiny heel, but I think it may have something to do with the size of the leopard spots. For example, I the shoes in the link below look a bit nicer, even though they are also leopard.

      http://www.zappos.com/product/8029533/color/373007

  4. Fantastic advice and I like the way you segment the hunt into phases. At all stages, a “premium” linkedIn membership will give you more tools – for example, the ability to save aspirational profiles , or see more data about who is looking at your profile, or to see more information on other people’s profiles. In terms of switching industries, I also recommend the use of Twitter, to start building up a stream of content related to your target industry or role, and also the creation of a blog for the same purpose.

    • ChinaRette :

      Great comment about Twitter! I occasionally used it before, and now I’ve been building up more followers, being more active, and tweeting about my areas of interest. I make sure that tweets in my area of expertise are showing up on my LinkedIn activity feed if they’re under 140 characters.

      I’ve been thinking about splurging on the premium membership–do you have much experience with it?

      • Yes, I’ve had a premium membership off and on for awhile. You should try it for a month and see what you think. The thing I’m addicted to (of course) is the expanded “who has viewed my profile” listing page, plus the ability to browse anonymously and still get this data. I also like InMail, which I have used to contact people I want to get to know, to some success.

  5. Anonymous :

    I am thinking about trying to refinance our house. We have an FHA loan and less than 20% equity in our home, so I know our options may be somewhat limited, but when I called our current lender about it a few months ago, she was really discouraging and never bothered to follow through with the estimate I had requested. Has anyone had a good experience with an online broker? I called and talked with someone from Qu!cken Loans yesterday, but now I am finding a lot of complaints about them online.

    • I love Quicken and have NOTHING but good things to say about him. Call and ask for Adam Anderson — they will be able to find him in their directory. He is awesome as a Mtg Broker. But I would anticipate that any of their Brokers will be fine as well.

      Quicken also does all of their disclosures/documents online — I’ve refi’ed with other companies and Quicken’s interface is very nice. Also, mtgs and re-fi requirements change all the time, so what you heard from your lender a few months ago may not be accurate now.

      Highly recommend. (I don’t work for Quicken, promise).

    • We just started looking into the very same thing. We also have an FHA loan (WOOO for 3% down and a 4% interest rate!). We’d like to get it down to a 15 year loan and/or down a full % point. We probably have 12% equity in our home at its current value. And we have enough cash to refinance with a full 20% down, BUT DH doesn’t want to do it because the interest rates are so low. Even though we’re paying mortgage insurance, he thinks we’re better off keeping our cash (about 100k) in the market. So he’s interested in a refi only if it’s not going to require 20% equity.

      We have seen some of the refinancing programs when you do FHA to FHA refi…we haven’t called our broker about it yet, though.

  6. So….know how I work in a tech company? My boss, who works across the country in another office from me and is super awkward, just asked me where i want to go in the company and what i want my role to be next year because she just found out there is a big ‘ol corporate reorg going on OVER THE COMPANY IM SYSTEM.

    It actually was a great conversation and I think I’m getting a big change (for the better) in role, but really? Not even a call?

  7. I Do Not Like the Cone of Shame :

    A few additional suggestions:

    (1) Go into your LinkedIn settings, and turn OFF “Turn On/Off your activity broadcasts”. That way your 1st degree connections don’t see notifications “Susie updated her experience” “Susie updated her profile”. Same idea for activity feed (which makes these actions visible on your profile, which anyone can see).

    (2) Consider modifying your LinkedIn profile slowly and stealth-ily over time. I would focus on adding to your summary the transferable skills you have as a result of your insurance industry experience, and tone down the insurance industry specifics, acronyms and certifications. Things like driving sales, experience working with customers, making presentations, whatever applies to your situation. You’re going to need to think about it when revising your resume anyways, to tailor it for non-insurance readers, so apply the same concepts here. Also add to your “skills”. Searches key in on the summary and the skills. Keep your headline the same, that’s a more obvious change, even to people not connected to you.

    (3) You know, if your LinkedIn profile looks a bit resume-ish, I wouldn’t sweat it. Lots of other people’s profiles look resume-ish and people don’t always update them, so I don’t read anything into it. As long as you aren’t too obvious, such as in your headline or summary saying “experienced xxx in the insurance industry, but seeking new opportunities elsewhere!” you’ll be fine.

    • These are great points. Thanks for adding, and big thanks to Kat for this post. Very informative and helpful!

    • Yes, all good suggestions, along with the downthread suggestion of making it regular habit to make updates so people get used to seeing your activity on the site. It all depends on your strategy. I keep my profile and activities open because I’m connected to about 230 people within my firm and I want them to learn from me.

    • I Do Not Like the Cone of Shame :

      One more suggestion – for me, when one of my LinkedIn connections starts going nuts with adding a bunch of Recommendations, I usually think “I wonder if they are looking for a new job.” So be careful : )

    • Great suggestion…thanks! I just changed my settting and even on that page it says “you may want to turn off activity broadcasts if your’e looking for a job and dont’ want your current employer to know…”

  8. Contracting Question :

    My old house has bad front steps that I’d like to rebuild (and add on a porch at the top). If it were just steps, I’d call the masonry guy I used and liked. But is this the sort of thing I need to talk to a general contractor about? My main concern is drainage (current steps have sunk and the tilt brings water towards the wood around my door; I live where it rains a lot and this is just an old house that has settled). No permit seems to be needed for this in my location (it would be different if it were a deck).

  9. karenpadi :

    I have friends who update their linkedin profiles every month or so–even if they haven’t changed jobs in years. I no longer think they are trying to change jobs when I see their updates.

    Maybe making regular LinkedIn updates are just a good habit to get into if you plan to change jobs in the next few years?

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      This. Also, comment on someone’s link or congratulate a promotion regularly and you will just appear as a frequent user.

    • Yes, make changes to your profile, start posting/using regularly but don’t make sudden, dramatic changes. And turn off the notification as someone above mentioned.

    • emcsquared :

      Yup, after I changed jobs I tried to stay in the habit of visiting my LinkedIn profile every week to add new contacts, new groups, new experience, whatever. As a law firm lawyer, I see it as part of my marketing effort – although firms probably would disagree with me, I wouldn’t second-guess a law firm lawyer who updates their profile frequently unless they suddenly check the “job hunting” box at the bottom.

      • Hi emcsquared – I’m in marketing at a biglaw firm and I fully endorse your focus on LinkedIn. I coach our lawyers one on one and in group settings on how to use it.

    • I think of LinkedIn like a resume/cv that I keep out for everyone to see. When I have a. RA item for the cv, I figure it ought to go on LinkedIn too. Waiting to update until I have several items is a headache!

  10. Fashion challenged :

    Where are some good resources for STYLING clothing? I’ve gotten to the point where I can do a decent job picking out stuff that works for my body type, fits well and is work-appropriate. Yet I hardly ever feel ‘put together.’ I think I’m missing some critical pieces that make something a ‘look’ or complete outfit. Today’s outfit, for example:
    - navy Gap academy blazer
    - charcoal bootcut pants
    - deep orchid short-sleeve sweater from BR with jewels around the neckline (so I skipped jewelry)
    - navy flats

    I like all the pieces on their own, but when they’re used together, it looks so freaking boring and even frumpy. This kind of thing happens more often than not, and I’d like to figure out where I’m going wrong. Because I see other women wearing the same kind of outfit and they look 1000x more stylish. I wear makeup, I do my hair — what gives?

    • @ Fashion Challenged: This could be due to a number of things and any combination thereof and without seeing a picture it’s hard to determine why you feel your outfit isn’t coming together. The color combination sounds like a good start, but maybe you’re not matching shapes right? Try to balance a tight top with a wider bottom and vice versa. Create an accent in your outfit with a belt or scarf or some really nice heel. Adding a pop of color or interesting piece of statement jewelry also works. I’d be very happy to help you individually if you send me an e-mal at boardroombelles at googlemail.com
      Best wishes, P

      • Oh crap. Just clicked on your link. I am seriously just going to have to dedicate some time to your site as well.

    • There are a couple of daily “what I wear” blogs that I like to look at for styling tips. They are “J’s everyday fashion” and “Marionberry Style.” They both pull off stylish, professional looks, although some are more casual than I can be. But I still get good ideas!

      Also, I find that bracelets often help an outfit feel more stylish!

    • hellskitchen :

      By trial and error I have found that accessories really help take an outfit from just appropriate to stylish. For example I now regularly wear a watch and whenever possible I wear something with a print if I am wearing all solids. With the outfit you describe, I would try to wear a belt with a print or at least some texture. I would also wear shoes with details or prints. Or I would wear a brooch on the jacket. Anything that helps break up the blocks of solid color. I also try to wear at least some heel at work when I can because it very quickly makes it look more stylish.

      • Fashion challenged :

        Thanks! Those are helpful tips. I wish I could handle heels better, but alas, they are a once-a-week item for me.

  11. Tiffany In Houston :

    This is going to be a threadjack in iteelf and for that I apologize in advance.

    Kat, Is there a way you can do a daily open thread that would allow folks to chat about whatever? The reason that I ask is that it is frustrating (and annoying) to visit posts like these and the comments have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I’ve clicked on many a great post based on your reader questions and it was a comment section full of threadjacks.

    Perhaps I am alone in my thinking about this but this was a great topic that I hoped to glean something from and it’s not even being discussed.

    Sorry to be a wet blanket. :(

    • I’m sort of a wet blanket too. This is such a great post and I was disheartened to see the very first comments were “threadjacks.” The commenters could have at least pretended to read the post as a courtesy? Perhaps Kat doesn’t care since the blog is very successful and having a thriving community assists with ad sales.

    • Loving this suggestion. I too am disappointed by the numerous TJs (even though people say TJ and I know it happens). I thought there was going to be more substantial commenting about LinkedIn help but not so much.

    • Yep. I really like the career/networking segments and then get sad to see it turn into threadjack or an early jump on coffee break. Maybe we can get rules of engagment in addition to FAQs.

      • Okay. Even if no one was allowed to threadjack these threads (how to enforce?) that isn’t going to change the fact that, if people don’t feel inspired to comment on a topic, they won’t. I read the original post, I have nothing to say about Linkedin, hence I didn’t comment. I also didn’t threadjack. But obviously those who did threadjack didn’t have anything to say about the original post either. So how would a ban on threadjacks provide you with the substantial commenting on the original topic that you’re looking for?

        • The problem with threadjacking is that it makes the relevant comments very hard to find and respond to, thus hindering the development of a conversation around the original topic.

        • How ’bout finding the post most related to the threadjack? If you have a fashion question, find a fashion post. If it’s a career question, ask it on something like this. There won’t be a perfect match, but “shoes” does fit “peplum jacket” better than it fits “LinkedIn”, don’t you think? And wouldn’t “personal finance” make more sense here than there?

          But really, I hope Kat takes up TiH’s suggestion!

    • @Tiffany in Houston….Thank you for posting this. I was just thinking the exact same thing. Today was especially annoying because the VERY FIRST COMMENT on the Linked-in Topic was a threadjack. Come on, people.

      By the way….I live in Houston too………..

    • +1

  12. What’s the appropriate way to contact people on Linkedin? Often I see someone at a co./in a position I’d want who is linked to someone I know and I think would be a great person to chat with (15-20 min by phone – intro, my skills, their advice, what I’m looking for etc). But I don’t know how to go about it. Do I (i) email my friend/acquaintance and say, could you see if x will talk to me?; (ii) contact my friend through Linkedin with the “request an intro to x” link?; (iii) directly message that person or some other way?

    I feel like most of the connections that I want to talk to are through 1-2 people who I know well but am not close friends with. I have sent an email saying “I’d like to reach out to so-and-so” and gotten no response (in all likelihood bc they don’t know that person well enough to make a call or the email got buried). But I don’t feel like I’m using Linkedin to its potential.

    • I think this is an excellent use of LinkedIn and have had a lot of success networking in the way you describe. Oftentimes, I will simply send a message to the person of interest and introduce myself and open the conversation that way. I’ve had people do the same for me. Don’t overthink it. And also, don’t use the native LinkedIn tools or messages for introductions. This is counterintuitive, but when it comes to meeting NEW people using LinkedIn, these automated features can be offputting. Also, check people’s profiles – a lot of times they put their email address right there. If you have a premium membership, you can send InMail too.

    • I think any of those options are fine, as long as you are clear up front about why you would like the introduction. If you emailed me and asked me to make an introduction to someone else in my network because you were interested in their company, for example, I’d be happy to do that (and have done so).

      What I don’t like are random requests from people I don’t know for business referrals. Recently I received an InMail from a recruiter who wanted information about posting job openings for my company (and since I am not in HR, this isn’t even close to my area of responsibility)…his name sounded familiar, though, and when I looked through my LI inbox, the same recruiter had sent me almost an identical email a couple of months ago. I sent him an identical response.

  13. Question #2 :

    If you applied for a job (that you are a longshot for but could be a decent candidate) and you have a professional (formal — i.e. not a friend) Linkedin person who is linked to the HR person at the co. who posted the job — do you “request an intro” via Linkedin? What does that do — just send a message to the HR person via your friend or are you then connected to that HR person? Do you communicate/message with that HR person and if yes, what would you say (beyond the things you said in your cover letter, submitted through the website – which may or may not ever be read)?

    • I don’t know that I would request a LI intro to the HR person, but I would definitely consider contacting my professional friend to say something like “I see you are connected on LI to HRPerson. I just applied for a position with HRPerson’s company. Would you be willing to introduce me to HRPerson?” Even if the job you’ve applied for doesn’t work out, making a personal connection with HRPerson would seem to give you a better chance for other openings in the future. Just connecting on LinkedIn may not provide the same personal connection, since some people just collect contacts.

  14. Bookmarking this post. I’m just starting to look for local or web-based jobs I can do so that in 2 years I’ll be ready to move to Geneva, Paris, DC, London, the Hague, or Brussels to work in a human rights position. It will be a career transition AND a restart after taking a couple of years off because of family responsibilities.

  15. While we’re on the topic of LinkedIn, does anyone have advice about getting recommendations from coworkers without it looking like, “Hey, I’m job-hunting!”

    I’m actually not actively job-hunting at the moment, but I would like to start collecting recommendations, and I’m not sure what the etiquette is around asking for them.

    • You might not see this, but I just had to do that. I would wait until you start job-hunting, maybe like a month or so before you expect to need the recommendation. Because your relationships with people could shift, and you don’t want to end up having to ask like three extra people because you’ve fallen out of touch or favor with your original three. I was able to get recommendations from peers and team leaders on assignments, fortunately did not need one from my immediate supervisors. I don’t know how that would pan out, since it seems it would be awkward to indicate you want to leave. But your coworkers will understand you are always exploring better options.

  16. Ms. Van Squigglebottoms :

    Oh no – it never occurred to me that by constantly “improving” my LinkedIn profile and expanding my network, I’d be perceived as looking for something new. Thanks for the privacy tips, Kat!

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