By Mel Lewis, Leadership & Business Ops Consultant, Sun Devil alum
Changing careers is not easy. There are endless resources available to help with the transition to a new industry and job. Why not utilize a free platform, LinkedIn, to bridge the experience gap you may have? LinkedIn allows you to join a group to share experiences, insights, help you network and show your passion for that industry. Check out one of Career and Professional Development Services Alumni Career Volunteer, Mel Lewis' blog 'Changing Careers? Bridge the Experience Gap with LinkedIn Groups' and read about the ways you can make the career change easier! You can also connect with Mel Lewis through the ASU Mentor Network at mentorship.asu.edu.
Scenario: You’re ready to change careers or start a career after earning a degree. Though you don’t have the required experience listed in job postings for your target role, you are confident your education, knowledge, transferable skills, and drive make you an excellent candidate. If you could get in front of the right people, you’d prove it.
It’s tough to score an interview when we do have the right experience, let alone when we don’t. If no one responds when you apply for a job or when you reach out to recruiters and company insiders, you still have a place to showcase your skills and passion for your new career area: LinkedIn Groups.
Why LinkedIn Groups?
LinkedIn describes its Groups as “a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share their insights and experiences, ask for guidance, and build valuable connections” (LinkedIn Groups Membership – Overview). Though some of LinkedIn’s 1.8 million Groups function more as a bulletin boards for members’ promotions and advertisements, you’re bound to find a truly active Group in your target career area.
Once you find and join the right group, do what you’d do if you were networking in person: join a conversation (by commenting) or start your own (by sharing an article or posting a question, for example). By actively participating, over time you:
Increase and demonstrate your subject-matter expertise
Show your passion for the Group’s topic
Support other members by bringing attention to their posts and giving them an opportunity to shine
Make new connections who may eventually lead you to your new role, and who you may help in some way, too
If you’re hesitant to share an article right out of the gate, start by commenting on an existing conversation. Here’s how:
Step 1. Find a Relevant LinkedIn Group
Here are two ways to find relevant Groups:
Option 1: Find Groups other LinkedIn members and target companies follow
If you have the name of a hiring manager, someone in a role similar to the one you want, or a company you’d like to work for, view their profiles to see the Groups they follow. For example, you can see your Groups by opening your Profile, scrolling to the Interests section, selecting See All, then Groups.
NOTE: Change your Profile Viewing Options to control what LinkedIn shares about you when it notifies members you’ve viewed their profiles.
Option 2: Search by keyword
Enter your target career area in LinkedIn’s search field (in the top menu bar). The results will include Jobs, Companies, Content, and more. To see only Groups, select Groups from the More option. If there are too many, try more specific search terms.
Step 2. Join the Group
When you find a Group, read About the group, where the Group owner describes the Group’s purpose. If the owner included ground rules for participation, read them. You don’t want to break them and lose access to the Group.
Next, scan the posts to see if members actively share and comment. If most posts are promotions, advertising, people seeking jobs or a service, or there are many posts with no comments, look for a different group.
To participate in the Group, select the Request to join button. Many auto-approve you so you can participate immediately. Others may have moderators who review your request before granting access.
Step 3. Find the Right Post
Once you have access to a Group, look for a recent post where (1) the LinkedIn member shared an article related to your target career area, and (2) the article looks interesting to you.
If it doesn’t have comments yet – great! You can be the first. The poster will appreciate it.
If it has comments, read all of them, and then craft a comment that adds new information and value to the thread. If you don’t, you risk saying something already covered by someone else, and your participation will seem superficial.
If it has more comments than you want to read, find a different post.
Step 4. Read the Article
As you read the article, take notes about what you agree or disagree with, what surprises you, what you learned, how it relates to your current experience and knowledge, what you don’t understand, and anything else that pops into your mind.
Step 5. Craft Your Comment
Commenting briefly with “Great article!” or “Thanks for sharing” will not start or keep a conversation going. Instead write a comment that proves you read the article, are interested in the content, and want to learn more. For example:
If the poster asked a question, answer it, and ask a follow-up question
Describe something you learned from the article and why it’s important to you
Share your own experience and how it relates to the article
Remember, this is about getting a job. Show you can get along in a team by being positive, supportive, and inquisitive. In other words, don’t be combative. For inspiration, read through other comments on the same or other posts. You’ll easily recognize those that add value while keeping the conversation going.
And always be sincere!
Step 6: Keep the Conversation Going
After you share your comment, periodically check your LinkedIn notifications so you know if and when someone responds to your comment or adds to the thread. If they do, get in there and continue participating. Stop when you feel like you’ve said enough or if the poster seems finished interacting with the thread.
NOTE: To learn how to manage your notification settings, open Managing Your LinkedIn Notification Updates and scroll to Managing notifications from the Settings & Privacy page
REMEMBER: By commenting you’re bringing attention not only to yourself, but to the LinkedIn member who posted the article and others who’ve commented. If you can be positive, professional, sincere, and supportive while adding value to the conversation, you’ll make new connections and build the credibility you need to bridge your experience gap.