LinkedIn as a Research Tool

Most of us know of LinkedIn as a business networking tool and social media site. It has become commonplace to professionals in many industries to post their profile. But LinkedIn is more than just another social media website; it could be one of your most valuable career path resources.

Even as a student, joining LinkedIn is a good start to getting into the professional world. If you already have a profile, you are one step ahead! If you do not, you can still get some great information from browsing on LinkedIn. For instance, conduct a Google search for a job title with “LinkedIn” added to the end of the search bar. Try a few similar phrases because the same job can vary in title across multiple companies.

If you are currently applying to jobs, LinkedIn is also a great research tool. Companies maintain information pages and post available jobs alongside company statistics. Simply visiting a prospective employer’s page can tell you the size of the company, their mission, and give you an idea of the company culture.

One of the most valuable ways to use LinkedIn is to browse profiles in your industry. Truthfully, looking through a stranger’s profile can feel creepy. However, it is well worth it because a person’s profile can list out their work and education history, which gives you an idea of how they fell into their current position. There is a wealth of information in profiles if you are wondering about credentials and work experience required for a path to your dream job.

This tactic is especially useful if you know what company you would like to work for. Searching a specific job title within the company will bring up several profiles, which will reveal several different paths to the job you are reaching for. For example, if you are hoping to get into the sought-after investment tract, you can see how people of different backgrounds found their way into the field. Sometimes the path is different than you would expect. You could gain a new perspective on how your own experiences and skill set fit into the picture.

Screenshot different job descriptions and work histories. Again, this can give you perspective and help you plan out your next move. Start a folder on your desktop specifically for your screenshots and job-hunting information. Taking a look at people’s work histories is also a good reminder that everyone starts somewhere.

If you do not already have a LinkedIn, consider getting one. At the very least, looking at other people’s LinkedIn profiles will help you see exactly how many professionals are on the site. You too can join and begin reaping the benefits.

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