Career changes can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have the necessary experience to make a seamless move. Add LinkedIn to the mix and career change can be even more daunting. How can you prove your fit on LinkedIn and make others believe you are capable of making the change? LinkedIn is a powerful branding and networking platform for career changers when used correctly. In this blog post we’ll share 10 strategies to help you leverage LinkedIn for a career change.
In my work helping job seekers land new opportunities, I often encounter job seekers who are hoping to make a complete change in career paths but not sure how. LinkedIn is a great resource for career changers who have an idea of their next target move. Here are 10 ways for career changers to leverage LinkedIn in the job search:
1. Include Target Keywords All Over Your Profile
The rule of thumb when writing your LinkedIn profile: write it to the career you want, not the one you have. This will produce more opportunities for you to be found in target industry searches. Just because you don’t have the industry experience yet, doesn’t mean you don’t have the right profile or transferable skills. If you’re ever going to be found or considered for your next move you’ll have to create a strong professional brand. To do this you’ll need to include the targeted keywords in your profile. The “About” section is a great place to subtly slip in keywords that will help you be found by hiring managers from your target industry. Add a paragraph of career interests that is keyword rich by simply writing: “Career Interests: Keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword phrase, keyword 3,” etc. Ultimately, you want to start molding yourself into your new target-self whether this means adapting your profile story to communicate a new you or gradually weaving in target industry lingo.
One profile part where target keywords is particularly important, is the LinkedIn Headline. Be sure to position your headline to your target industry as much as possible. Otherwise you will look like your old industry and a career change may not be evident.
2. Fill Current Experience Gaps with Volunteer Roles from Your Target Industry
Your recent experience is of paramount importance because the reader or hiring manager wants to feel you are up on current trends and practices. If your current job is non-industry related, consider picking up a target industry volunteer role as well. LinkedIn allows you to have multiple current positions at once. By bumping your more relevant target industry volunteer role into your top position, you are branding yourself as current in your target industry. This alone will speak volumes in terms of your industry relevancy.
3. Join Target Industry Groups and Start Connecting With Group Members
Networking is key for making a career change and one of the best ways to network on LinkedIn is by being in groups relevant to your target. LinkedIn boasts hundreds of groups and allows you to join up to 50. It is recommended to join the max of 50 as it will give you the most exposure to all the people in your target industry. Wide reach where networking groups are concerned will definitely be your best move.
4. Gather High Value Contacts and Prepare to Network
Sure you’re on LinkedIn and have a robust network but do you really know who can help you make this move? If you’re like most people, chances are you’re doing a whole lot of connecting with very little attention to who exactly, might be able to help. LinkedIn allows you to “PDF” your connections as a way of staying organized. Go through your Connections one by one, and PDF everyone near or within your target industry. Then start to plan your strategic outreach even if it’s a series of “getting back in touch” messages. Having a PDF of their profile will help you quickly research and learn about your contacts before stepping into a networking meeting.
To create a PDF of your target contact, simply click the “More” button next to the “Message” button on the contact’s profile, then select “PDF” from the list of options. You can also follow the contact to catch their activity and latest updates in your feed.
5. Add Related Role/Industry Project
One of the best ways to demonstrate your capabilities, transferable skills or target industry knowledge is by showing off your work. The proof is in the pudding, right? Add a relevant project or presentation to your profile to help enhance your new desired brand. Click on the button labeled “Add Profile Section” to open the dropdown. Select “Accomplishments” from the menu to open up all of the additional profile part options.
6. Apply Target-Specific SEO Strategy
Being found is only achieved if your SEO strategy is in tact. Try these 9 LinkedIn SEO hacks for boosting your profile in hiring manager searches. Also be sure to add skills (using the Skills profile section) that are relevant to your target industry. These skills will help bump you up in results when someone is searching in target industry as well as contribute to your new brand when someone comes across your profile. Even if it is a skill you are currently working to develop – in order to make the career change – add it to your profile to give your keyword power a major boost!
“A LinkedIn Makeover was the best investment I have made in a long time. My accomplishments were presented in a clear and compelling way. The work was completed quickly and was so much better than I could have accomplished on my own even though I am a highly educated person. There is a certain skill set required for a quality LinkedIn profile that is not taught in school. If you’re on the fence about whether to go it alone or purchase this service, I encourage you to invest in yourself by moving forward with NG Career Strategy!” – Scott, Executive & LinkedIn Makeover Client
7. Share Target Industry Content
One of the best ways to stay top of mind with people who are in your target space, is content sharing. Every time you find an interesting article or produce content around your target industry, be sure to share it on your LinkedIn feed. By posting to your feed, you are letting your connections know what’s on your mind and you will start to be associated as someone who has interest, knowledge, passion or expertise around the content you’re posting. When you share via your feed you are also able to post to specific groups. This is a great way to expand your reach with the right contacts and people within your target space.
8. Connect with Strategic Industry Recruiters
Recruiter strategy should always be a part of any job search even if you don’t particularly have a thing for recruiters. These are the people who know about opportunities before they hit job boards so you’ll definitely want to be on their radar when they come across a fit for your profile. Don’t connect to any and all recruiters but rather do advanced searches around specific industry recruiters and connect with every one you come across.
9. Research Your Alumni Groups for Target Industry Contacts to Engage
One of the best ways to connect with new contacts is by finding common ground. Alumni groups whether school or company alumni is common ground worth leveraging. Spend some times in all of your alumni groups identifying and tagging the best contacts. Then, reach out using your common ground as a point of introduction. If you’re in the same Linkedin group you can also message non-connections directly and privately without requiring an InMail or paid subscription.
10. Change Your Perspective
If you’re still feeling like you’re just not capable of reinventing your brand on LinkedIn, I’d tell you to adopt my father’s favorite saying and make it your mantra: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will start to change.” Mindset is everything in a career change and you have to really believe you can become your target brand if you are going to achieve it. So start to change the way you look at your profile and others will as well.