We all know that a tough economy means you have to set yourself apart from other candidates, especially if you are changing industries or functions. Here are a couple tips for using LinkedIn to conduct research and establish contacts within the new industry you are targeting.
First, use the search feature at the top to Search Companies. Type in a keyword for your industry, such as “consumer goods.” You can then find all the companies in the industry, and modify your search based on preferences for location and company size. Here’s a search I ran to find all the CPG companies in Chicago: http://www.linkedin.com/companyDir?results=&sik=1244481941853.
As you click on each company, you can get a clear overview of company size, key statistics, and news about each company. You can also click on each of the news links and figure out what periodicals most of the industry news comes from. If you are serious about the industry and the company, you can put these news sources in your feed and keep up with them every day.
On each company’s page, there is a section for New Hires. If you want to know what types of work you need to have on your resume to land a job at each company, take a look at each person’s profile to see where they worked at and what types of work they have done in the past. You can also get an idea of what the different career paths are and common titles.
What do you do if you don’t know anyone in the company? Sometimes the fastest way to network is actually online. Send an email to people at companies within the industry who have a job you would want and set up an informational interview over the phone. Here’s an example template:
Dear <name of contact>:
I am a <current position> with previous experience as a <previous position> in the <name of industry>. I am writing you in hopes of understanding more about working for <target company>.
<Paragraph(s) about why I’m passionate about the target industry, target company, and/or target position. End the paragraph(s) with why you would be perfect for the position you are targeting.>
If you have a few minutes, I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences from working at <target company>. Some of the questions I have are:
· What persuaded you to work for <target company>?
· How is the company culture at <target company>?
· What are the potential career paths at <target company>?
· What is a typical day like as a <target position>?
I’d also appreciate any advice you could give me about pursuing full-time opportunities. Thank you very much for your time.
This is an easy way to quickly develop contacts in an industry. Bonus: If you have an alumni database from your undergraduate or graduate institution, you can search for contacts at your target companies there also, and get a higher response rate! Good luck.