Welcome back ya’ll! We are nearing the end of this series, only 2 more post after this, and it is my sincere hope that the information up to this point has been useful to those looking to resume working and those just beginning this journey. The progression of the posts has been with the idea of taking you from the beginning to the end of the job seeking process. We began with brainstorming to develop the information necessary for a quality resume, and then we developed your resume. After that we touched on resources that were available locally to assist you with continued employment readiness, resume assistance and priority employment placement. The next three posts will cover the concept behind networking and different avenues you can use.
I am not sure how many of you know about LinkedIn and the benefits it offers not only to MilSpouses, but also to Veterans. For those that may be completely lost to the world of LinkedIn, it is the social media platform for workplace professionals. Using LinkedIn correctly will not only assist you in growing your professional network and meeting people who are in your chosen field, but it will also allow you to potentially network with hiring managers of employers before you move. LinkedIn allows you to build and grow your contacts, join various industry related groups, create a profile and a personal brand, and search for employment opportunities. Before we get into any more benefits of LinkedIn, let me say this…IT’S FREE! The basic services on LinkedIn don’t cost anything to you; however they do offer a premium service that allows for greater connections and training. As many of you know, the Spouse Education Career Opportunities and LinkedIn’s Military and Veterans program have partnered to offer all Military spouses who are moving due to a PCS and military spouses within six months of separation a free one-year upgrade to LinkedIn premium. This service is already offered to service members who are separating. This upgrade allows you:
- Get advanced intelligence about how you compare to other applicants, including analysis of your education, experience, and skills.
- Access free online training to develop new skills or refresh old ones, to eliminate any skills gaps between you and other applicants.
- Message those you may not already be connected to, in order to build a professional network that will help you achieve your professional goals.
- Access LinkedIn’s learning path for military spouses, focused on obtaining and succeeding in remote, flexible, or freelance work opportunities.
Build Your Profile
The first step in developing a successfully LinkedIn account is to build your profile. Like other social media platforms, you profile is your introduction to a potential employer. Unlike other platforms, this profile needs to remain STRICTLY professional. This includes your profile picture. Your profile picture should be a professional photo, preferable a head shot in business professional attire, with a neutral background. Building your profile in LinkedIn is done in sections, and like your resume, you want to ensure each section is perfect and polished. You can import your resume into many of the sections, but review to ensure everything transferred successfully. You have a section underneath your photo to write your personal branding statement. You can use the statement from your resume, or you can create something totally different. If you are in need of assistance in writing your brand, I suggest this article on the My SECO website https://myseco.militaryonesource.mil/portal/content/view/3849, and really using some of the exercises listed. LinkedIn now allows you to add your skills (try to have 5 or more that are directly related to your industry) and expertise that you can have people in your network endorse. Last but not least, be sure to include in your profile that you are a military spouse.
Growing Your Network
I think one of the best qualities about LinkedIn is the opportunity to network with people all over the world. This is a huge asset to military spouse because we tend to end up traveling all over the world. If you are an introvert or semi-introverted like I, this process of “networking” takes the fear out of speaking to people you don’t know. There are a couple of ways to go about growing your network. If you are currently employed, be sure to connect with your coworkers as well as supervisors. You can also add connections by importing contacts from your email accounts, and the search function. If you know a friend works for Amazon, or Microsoft, search that company and see if there are other folks there you may know. The more connections you make, the larger your secondary network will grow. We will talk about this more.
Following up is very important. Whether you attended a conference, met someone in the doctor’s office, commissary, exchange or at a spouse event, reach out to them on LinkedIn and work to develop a professional relationship. One of the many benefits of being able to upgrade to prime for free, is that you will have the opportunity to message people you may not be connected to. This comes in handy when you are looking at applying at a company where you maybe don’t have contacts and you have located someone from human resources on LinkedIn. You will now have the capability to message this person directly to begin the networking process. This brings us to the next area of connecting, blind connections. When you have found “that job” and you know that you are a PERFECT fit, but don’t know how to get your foot in the door, this is where those secondary connections come into play. First, look and see if you have any mutual connections. If you do, and you are comfortable, ask your connect for an introduction. This may seem a bit farfetched, believe me, I thought the same thing, but this is how business is evolving. If you don’t have a connection, send a clear, customized and detailed request for a connection. This not only shows initiative, but will also allow you to make your awarding winning elevator pitch right to one of the decision makers.
Like I said in the first post, looking for a job is a full time job; this is no different on LinkedIn. You want to continue to have an active presence as well as keeping your status updated. Weekly you want to search for new connections, reach out to contacts and participate in conversations in your groups. Use short post to share information, ideas, links and opinions with your connections.
Some great areas for networking and resource information are the millions of groups on LinkedIn. Joining a group such as a college alumni group or groups related to your career field are great ways to build your network and open the door to additional connections. Join the Department of Defense’s military spouse LinkedIn group, which will signal your status as a military spouse to recruiters seeking to hire from within the community. LinkedIn Channels LinkedIn Today allows you to stay information about area of interest as well as participate in conversations to add your knowledge. Just make sure you proofread everything before hitting send J finally, like I said before, LinkedIn is a great place to look for employment, you can target your search by company, industry field, or by location. As a military spouse make sure you are joining the MSEP group and following their company page for highlighted jobs from MSEP partners. It should go without saying, if there is a partner that is of interest to you, be sure to follow that company page as well.
I will be the first to admit I was never on the LinkedIn bandwagon until I started working in Workforce Development. It was not until I began to see how often employers utilize this platform to “research” a potential candidate long before they are even interviewed, did I start to update and revamp my own profile. Since this time I have been able to stay abreast of so many new developments to workforce industry as well as making connections with other military spouse.
Until next time,
Empowered women, Empower women.
Keadra is a USN wife by way of Kalamazoo, Michigan who is currently stationed in Northeast Ohio with her husband who is a recruiter. Her background is in Law Enforcement; however, degrees in Sociology and Public Administration brought her to the world of Workforce Development. Keadra’s hobbies include fostering her budding business Kubed, LLC a training and consulting agency, and raising their daughter.