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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Generation J Toolbox

How I found a job through LinkedIn

By Jennifer Nicole Sullivan

Lately I've been a walking commercial for LinkedIn — because if it weren’t for the professional social networking site, I might never have landed my current magazine job.

When I moved to New York City from Rhode Island in December for my husband’s job, I applied to dozens of positions but, alas, received no bites. I felt like my emails, filled with carefully crafted cover letters and strategically selected clips, had been sucked into a bleak, virtual abyss.

They always say it’s who you know that gets you in the door, right? Sadly, I could count my New York contacts on one hand, so I started working my online connections.

LinkedIn’s filtering system lets you search for new connections by categories such as school, industry and location, so I combed my contacts for links to fellow alumni (from University of Texas at Austin and University of Rhode Island) living in New York who work in journalism. I made several new connections, including my current boss at Real Simple magazine.

She’s a UT grad, like me, and we have a mutual contact: her former co-worker/my Rhode Island friend. On a whim, I emailed her a quick note (her email address is on LinkedIn) mentioning our common friend and alma mater and that I’d recently applied for a job at her magazine. I attached my résumé, just in case. I didn’t expect a reply, but she surprisingly responded right away saying she liked my resume and asked if I could interview for a different position that week. I was overjoyed!

After two interviews, I landed the job and began in early February. My boss said she was glad I’d contacted her because it saved her time trying to find candidates for the position (I was her only candidate).

So if LinkedIn can work for me, it can work for you, too — you just have to know how to work it. Some tips:

1. UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE

Add a professional photo, fill in your work and education history, and post examples of your clips via SlideShare.net, which displays thumbnails of PDFs on your LinkedIn profile.

2. JOIN LINKEDIN GROUPS

Get linked to people in your city and industry through LinkedIn groups such as SPJ, SPJ Generation J, SPJ chapters, college alumni or writers groups.

3. GET OUT AND NETWORK

Online social networking is great, but you can’t hide behind your computer forever. Find out about networking mixers, seminars, conferences or alumni activities via LinkedIn. Meet new people, deliver your 30-second elevator pitch that you’re looking for work, and distribute business cards. As soon as you meet someone new, get linked on LinkedIn to solidify your connection.

4. MEET WITH YOUR CONNECTIONS

Ask your contacts for informational meetings or an informal chat over coffee. The worst thing they could say is no, but people are usually open to chatting with friends of friends or people in the same industry.

5. AVOID SOUNDING DESPERATE

Don’t harass your connections or tell them your gloomy unemployment sob stories. Stay confident, keep cool and take the hint if someone doesn’t respond to you — simply move on.

Jennifer Nicole Sullivan is a copywriter at Real Simple magazine. She’s a contributing writer at Rhode Island Home & Design and at the arts and entertainment newsmagazine Newport Mercury. She was a features reporter at Corpus Christi Caller-Times and taught English in Japan for two years. Contact her at jnbsullivan@gmail.com, follow her on Twitter @trendyjenny or find her on LinkedIn.

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