5 Ways to Look for a New Opportunity and Keep Your Job

The standard advice for the employed thinking about greener pastures is to keep your current job while looking for the next big opportunity. Easier said than done! Most people have come to rely on the web-based job search tools like Monster and CareerBuilder, or the more exclusive pay site such as TheLadders. But for those still at their desks, it’s a nerve racking process. Should you post your resume? What if your boss is hiring and sifting through those sites? Will someone downloading or reviewing your resume call for references, or to verify employment?

LinkedIn is social media for business. You can think of it as Facebook for your professional life. One of the first benefits to using LinkedIn is that it can benefit your current business while you search for your next and few employers object. In fact, many large companies have their own LinkedIn pages and encourage their employees to sign on. Even large corporations like WalMart and Samsung have established company pages.

Strategy 1: Your Profile Page

When you first sign up for LinkedIn you create a bit more involved profile page than you might have done with other social media sites. In fact, it’s actually more of a resume than a profile. This is a place for potential employers to see your work history, current position and experience without you having to make the first move.

Like any basic resume, there’s a place for you to list your Experience. Make the Experience section count by listing everything you would normally put in the corresponding resume section.  Job titles, dates and the nuts and bolts of what you’d like to show. Better than a standard resume is the Summary section. Summary gives you a chance to tell the story of who you are and what you want to accomplish without having to send someone a cover letter. 

Strategy 2: Groups

Groups in LinkedIn are typically based around a profession, technology or business type. They’re designed to be a place where like minded professionals can come together to discuss industry trends, exchange ideas and connect with potential new customers..and potential new employers. For example, I’m a member of International DIY Trade, a group made up of 433 people that manufacture, sell or buy tools like our Mille-Rod all over the world, and the Telecom Professionals Group that has more than 162,000 people in the Telecom business as members. Often, people in each of these groups post job openings. If you’re a member they come right to your inbox! Not only will you see jobs posted there you’ll see nowhere else, but being a member of a group allows you to view the profiles of all the other members. Be a contributor, show off your expertise. Out of 162,000 people in the Telecom Professionals Group, do you think there’s someone I might approach if I’m looking for a job?

Strategy 3: Customers and Connections

As in any social media, the object is to connect. You may avoid coworkers and business connections like the plague in Facebook, not wanting to show them the embarrassing party photo,s or that you actually went to Miami that weekend you had the flu. Not so with LinkedIn. The whole idea is to connect professionally. Whether you’re a Radiologist or Apple App Designer, Accountant or Salesperson, your customers and competitors are on LinkedIn. Your next job will probably be with one of them.

Once you connect with another person, you can see all the Groups they belong to and all the people they’re connected with. Connect with them! The first thing that anyone does when you request to connect is to look at your Profile. See Strategy #1. After you connect, start a dialogue. Let them know on an individual level that you’re looking for a change.

Strategy 4: Recruiters

LinkedIn has become a primary source for professional recruiters and head hunters. First, just type “recruiter” in the Groups search box and see that there are more than 5000 Groups listed. These aren’t Groups you’ll join, but ones you will prospect for good recruiting connections. Select and Recruiter Group and sort through current discussions and find one or two that you might want to work with.

Recruiters will find you too because not only do they surf the Groups looking for likely prospects, but also will look at their client’s competitors for them as well. For example, Bob the Recruiter might be looking for an VP of Operations for a Financial Services company. Where do you think he’ll look? Bob will go to the Banking Connections Group and look for people in that or a similar position. Then, Bob will go to that persons Profile and check qualifications.

Strategy 5: Recommendations and Introductions

LinkedIn encourages you to complete your Profile in many different ways, but the most valuable may be their prompting for you to ask for Recommendations. Getting a Recommendation is the same as having a written letter of recommendation, in advance of you starting a public job hunt. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to go through your best contacts and make the request, not even your boss would object. When someone asks you for a recommendation, always respond. It shows up on your Profile and makes you look good as well. Here’s an example of a Recommendation I wrote for a former boss:

BOSS is one of the very few people I've come into contact with that has the drive and leadership ability to move a company in a different direction and change it's culture for the better. The changes he's made in our current company through astute marketing and savy, long term strategy has made all the difference. February 5, 20009

Now every time a potential employer views BOSS's Pofile that’s what they see. They will also see a link to your Profile.

Introductions are much more direct. You’re not asking for a general recommendation, but a literal introduction to someone you’re not connected to. For example: Let’s say you want to find the right person at Ericsson to speak to about a job in Software Engineering and you find a likely candidate in one of the Groups that you’ve joined. You could send that person an invitation to connect or message directly. The better strategy would be to take a look at that person’s connections and see who you know in common, then write to that person and ask to be introduced. In fact, LinkedIn actually has a button to push to specifically to request an introduction. How would you like to have an associate place a call on your behalf like that? It’s a very powerful tool.

These 5 strategies for job hunting in secret using LinkedIn are simple, easy ways to start your search for that nest great opportunity.