One of the best things you can do as a job hunter — on LinkedIn or elsewhere — is learn as much as possible about your potential next employer. You can use LinkedIn to research individual companies and the people who work there, just like they use LinkedIn to research candidates like yourself.
Not all companies have a LinkedIn profile, but for those that do, visit their LinkedIn pages to discover:
- How you’re connected to the company: potential contacts who might be a “foot in the door” there.
- Who the company’s competitors are, under the “People also viewed” and “Where Employees Came From” sections. This suggests other places to also consider applying at (or at least ones that would be good to understand before you interview at this company).
- Company positioning and latest developments, posted on the company summary page and in status updates. This tells you the image the company is trying to project (where their strengths are, how they’re different from competitors, what they do best). It’s good to know all of this so you can answer dreaded questions like, “Why do you think you’d be a good fit for this company?”
- Newly hired or promoted employees, under the “Insights” tab of the company page. This shows you the kinds of people the company is hiring right now. Read the profiles of these employees; if they have many common keywords or skills, be sure to add them to your profile. (Yes, I said “keywords” again!)
- Available job openings, under the Careers tab, if available.
You can also click the “Follow” button on a company page to stay abreast of their job openings and new product or service developments via email alerts and updates on your LinkedIn homepage.
Insider tip: If you have the names of people interviewing you, read their LinkedIn profiles to get a better understanding of what their interview style might be like (for example, if they’re more conversational or by-the-book), common connections you might have, common interests or recent trends they might be interested in, and so on. Okay, so this might feel like cyber-stalking, but it’s not that bad–as long as you don’t seem like you’re trying too hard in your interview. Just use your research as preparation for the interview.
For more of Melanie’s advice and insights, download “LinkedIn In 30 Minutes”, available for the Kindle, iPad, and Nook, and also as a PDF and paperback.