With all the social media platforms out there, LinkedIn is one you need not ignore. If you’re about to leave military service and wondering what the civilian world, the government contract world, or virtually anywhere in the world work looks like, this is the place to connect with people.
Here are 5 tips for maximizing LinkedIn:
Tip #1 – Explore specific career fields
Thinking about a specific career field? Want to know which professional organizations you should consider joining? Interested in connecting with the thought leaders in a particular industry? LinkedIn is the place to be.
Military personnel in transition often need a starting point in order to get acquainted with the civilian world. Getting comfortable with what’s out there is as easy as getting online and getting busy on LinkedIn. Start connecting with people or groups on the site. Read some in-depth articles of interest to you. Connect with those who resemble or represent the career field/s you’re interested in and professionally strike up a conversation.
Exploring the specifics of a career field is an easy thing to do here. Once you spend a little time learning all about LinkedIn and how it works, you’ll be well on your way to getting connected and discovering more career opportunities. Don’t wait any longer, start researching careers now!
Tip #2 – Search based on your military job or skills
LinkedIn has some cool search features that can help you find careers that might align nicely with your current military career. If you’re interested in leveraging what you do in uniform now, but in a civilian career equivalent, why not search for the closest possible match?
Sometimes you mentally go back and forth in your career choice. I’m talking about those times when you think, “Should I find a career that’s just like my current military job? Or, should I find a career outside my current military job, doing something I’ve always wanted to do?
LinkedIn can help you do some fact-finding on various careers that play to your strengths you developed while in the military. You can search in countless ways and investigate all that’s out there.
This can be especially helpful for those unsure of what to do after the Military. I just typed in “Generator Mechanic” and found some companies hiring for that position. I also found several Veterans who work or worked on generators. If I wanted to, I could connect with them or join groups that might help me find the career I want after my Military-to-Civilian career transition. Too easy!
Next, I typed in “Infantry”. Several profiles of people associated with the Infantry popped up. So, imagine being in the Infantry and not sure what career might fit once you leave the service. On LinkedIn, I see several National Guard Infantry personnel. Guess what? Many have their civilian companies listed on their profiles.
Tip #3 – Make the connections, but do it carefully!
Unlike other forms of social media such as Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn isn’t about trending and how many “Friends” or “Fans” or “Followers” you have. Remember, LinkedIn is more of a professional connection platform than a friendship generator. Even though you might develop friends over time with LinkedIn, your goal is to connect on more of a career-centric, business-related manner.
Connecting with other people on LinkedIn requires you to observe the proper protocols or “netiquette” (internet etiquette). You do not want to SPAM people by sending a bunch of unsolicited LinkedIn invitations. Take your time and go for quality relationships in a professional manner at all times. For example, after a networking event or meeting someone in person, make it part of your follow-up to connect on LinkedIn. Find out if their company is hiring, but at a minimum find out how to best leverage your military experience into a job – pick their brain on what’s out there career-wise!
Tip #4 – Join a Group!
Did you know that LinkedIn has groups you can join? If you’ve ever felt lonely or isolated during your transition, join a few groups on LinkedIn and get connected. In these groups, important information gets shared all day long! People post helpful hints, tips, and suggestions that can make your transition much easier than if you went about it alone. Why wonder when you can know what’s out there? Join a few groups and keep current on what’s happening in your chosen career field. Take advantage of the “tribal wisdom”.
Remember, some Groups are listed as Private and require approval from the Group Manager in order for you to join. Don’t hesitate in sending a request to join the group.
Tip #5 – Keep your LinkedIn Profile updated!
By keeping your LinkedIn profile updated, you increase your chances of connecting with the right people, the right opportunities, and speeding up the hiring process. Make sure all your information is correct. Invest in a nice photo or logo that showcases your very best image.
Over time, the LinkedIn software will inform you on ways to update your information for maximum effectiveness. Be sure to heed their advice and online prompts that will show you the way to improving your profile.
Taking action on these five tips will help make LinkedIn an essential part of your transition plan.
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