You probably have a profile on LinkedIn, but how much do you use it as a platform? What can LinkedIn be used for? How do you get the most out of it? And how can you optimise your profile to attract the right attention?
Jeremy Schifeling is a former hiring manager at LinkedIn. He explains exactly what LinkedIn can be used for, how to make useful connections on LinkedIn, and how you can use LinkedIn to develop and change your career.
Jeremy Schifeling of The Job Insiders
Website: Break Into Tech and The Job Insiders
LinkedIn: Jeremy Schifeling
Twitter: Jeremy Schifeling
Jeremy Schifeling has devoted his career to helping others succeed in theirs. From teaching kindergarten in Brooklyn to recruiting top students at Teach For America to leading education marketing at LinkedIn, he’s touched the lives of millions of people at every stage of their journeys. Along the way, he’s published the best-selling LinkedIn book on Amazon, served as a career coach for military veterans and MBA students at the University of Michigan and produced the most-viewed video in LinkedIn’s history. He currently leads consumer marketing at Khan Academy and shares his thoughts on Break into Tech, a site for anyone who wants to launch a tech career.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [1:40] Different ways skills can be transferable.
- [2:35] How Jeremy became a LinkedIn guru.
- [03:58] The number one misconception about LinkedIn.
- [04:52] How best to use LinkedIn.
- [06:40] Ways to add value to your LinkedIn profile.
- [08:33] How posting on LinkedIn can help build your personal brand.
- [11:19] The purpose of your LinkedIn profile.
- [13:12] Why your LinkedIn profile should be different to your CV.
- [16:41] How to use LinkedIn to transition into a new career.
- [19:42] How to attract the right people on LinkedIn.
- [22:29] How to make your LinkedIn profile stand out and be memorable.
- [27:40] Who you should connect with on LinkedIn.
- [32:45] How to avoid your current employers finding out you want to transition to a new career.
- [36:50] The best platform to connect with old colleagues.
- [38:55] How to use LinkedIn to meet your goals.
- [41:01] The future of LinkedIn and how AI will change how we use LinkedIn.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
Episode 139: How to get the most out of LinkedIn - with Jeremy Schifeling of The Job Insiders
Jeremy Cline 0:00
LinkedIn, it's been around for years, and you've probably got a profile. But are you making the most of it? Is your profile optimised so that the right people find you? Are you making connections which might serve you in the future? Just what can you do with LinkedIn? That's what we're going to find out in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:37
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, then you're in the right place. Now, almost everyone has heard of LinkedIn, and you probably have a LinkedIn profile. But how much do you actually use LinkedIn? In fact, what can you use it for? How can you get the most out of it? That's what we're going to cover this week, and to help answer these questions and more, I'm delighted to be joined by Jeremy Schifeling. A former hiring manager at LinkedIn, Jeremy now leads consumer marketing at Khan Academy, and is the founder of Break into Tech, a website through which he helps people with no tech experience win jobs at some of the world's most prestigious tech companies. He's also co-author of Linked, the definitive guide to LinkedIn. Jeremy, welcome to the show.
Jeremy Schifeling 1:32
Thanks so much for having me here, Jeremy.
Jeremy Cline 1:34
So, you started out as a kindergarten teacher, and you're now a LinkedIn guru. How did that happen?
Jeremy Schifeling 1:42
Yeah, well, you know, it's funny because, as I coach people, and as you probably coach people, as well, you hear this sort of feeling of, 'Oh, I've got to choose the perfect career path, the one that's going to ignite my career and take me to a big success.' And I think what we've both learned along the way is that careers, most successful ones, are not always completely linear. A lot of times, you have to open yourself up to possibility and then learn things at every stage that will help you get to that next level. And for me, some of the things that I learned as a kindergarten teacher, like how to connect with people from different backgrounds, how to empathise with my audience, how to tell great stories, has actually helped me become a great marketer in the education world and in the tech world. And so, it's definitely taken me a long time to get here, but having a chance to learn those skills and open myself to those possibilities really did ignite my own career.
Jeremy Cline 2:31
And how did you get from kindergarten to marketing?
Jeremy Schifeling 2:35
Yeah, so I think after serving in the classroom for a couple years, I came to realise that I was actually more excited about being behind the scenes. So, I was spending all this time working on my classroom blog, sending out updates to my families, and thinking, 'Wait a second, I love doing this, maybe I should do it on a bigger scale.' And so, I went from there to working for Teach For America, which helps to recruit top teachers from across the country, all the way to Silicon Valley, where I worked for Apple and then later LinkedIn, again, telling stories, trying to reach not just 20 students in the classroom, but 20 million students around the globe.
Jeremy Cline 3:10
Do you ever miss the classroom?
Jeremy Schifeling 3:13
Oh, for sure. I think one of the things about the classroom is you get such immediate feedback. You know right away when you're teaching in front of 20 or 30 faces staring directly at you, am I doing a great job, or am I failing these poor students. And I think as a marketer, or someone in the internet realm, a lot of times we have that lag, we don't necessarily get immediate feedback about how we're doing. So, I definitely miss that connection that I had with my original audience.
Jeremy Cline 3:38
As a podcaster, I recognise that, because you just don't get any immediate feedback on interviews. Yeah, anyone out there who wants to let me know that this has been useful, a five-star review, that would be amazing. So, let's turn to LinkedIn, because that's what we're here to chat about. How would you describe LinkedIn to someone who has never used it before?
Jeremy Schifeling 3:58
The number one misconception that I want to break down about LinkedIn is, even if you've never used it, you've probably heard about it in the category of a social network, another Facebook, another Twitter, another site basically to waste time on. And in fact, it's a huge misconception, because even though LinkedIn has some social features, you can post stuff and share stuff, the reality is, it's not a tool to waste time, it's a tool to accelerate your career. So, if you want to be getting access to the world's best jobs and people actually coming to you with opportunity, LinkedIn is the place you have to go, because that's where every company, that's where every recruiter is, that's where the opportunity is.
Jeremy Cline 4:37
So, before we come on to what it can actually do, can you expand a little bit more on what you just said and talk about what you can do with LinkedIn, and what practically can you use it for?
Jeremy Schifeling 4:52
There are really two modes of LinkedIn. I kind of think of them as offence and defence, the same way you would in a football match. When it comes to defence, a lot of it is about getting your profile up there in a way that whenever anyone in your industry is looking for talent like yours, they're always finding you. Your profile is appearing at the top of their search results. So, even as you sleep, even as you're not even thinking about your career, your LinkedIn profile is working hard for you, attracting recruiters from all the best firms. So, that's pretty magical, especially for anyone who spends time going on the offence and never hearing back. That's the first step. And then, when you're ready to take that next step of really going on offence, trying to reach out on LinkedIn proactively, think about the fact that, even with all this technology, the people making these decisions about who gets hired and who doesn't are still human, just like you and me. And we both know that humans, as much as we love algorithms and all these tools that are at our disposal, we'd love relationships even more. And so, if you have someone who has been referred to you as a great candidate, or someone you know, or someone who seems like a really great fit for your team, you're going to prefer them in the hiring process over someone who's a total stranger. So, by going on offence on LinkedIn and really reaching out and building those connections, you can get the relationships that get your foot in the door.
Jeremy Cline 6:13
See, we've already touched on some of the things that it can do, so for example, that you can build a profile, and we'll talk a little bit more about that, you can get connected with people or you can send messages to people, so, so far, so much like Facebook. What are the things can it do, or what sort of functionality does it have, what are the headlines?
Jeremy Schifeling 6:39
Yeah, so I really want to steer people away from the idea that they should be focused on the new and flashy features. Because usually when LinkedIn rolls out a new feature, it's focused on Linkedln's own goals, which are driving more revenue, driving more usage. So for example, just because you can get a million endorsements on your profile, or just because you can spend all day reading stuff on LinkedIn's newsfeed doesn't mean you actually should. Those are great for LinkedIn, the business, maybe not great for your own personal business, your own career. And so, the things that I talked about, your profile, the networking, those are the core things that your listeners should really be focused on, because those are the things that add value to you and to your success. And the way that you apply those can change based on what you need. So for example, if you're just trying to figure out where do I belong, what's my North Star career wise, yes, you can have a profile, and you can have all that great stuff, but really, what you should be doing is asking questions. Whose career paths do I admire? What kind of opportunities am I curious about? And then, most importantly, who could I reach out to to learn about those, not from a blog post or even a podcast, but directly from the folks on the inside. All the way to, I'm starting my own business, I've decided to leave working for someone else, to other people, and I'm going to put out my own digital shingle. Well, I can go on LinkedIn to find my own customers, my own clients, my own partners, and I don't have to leave that to a salesperson or someone else, because that power is at my fingertips. But it really does all come back to those two pieces: having a great profile and building connections.
Jeremy Cline 8:13
So, the function of posting, which, again, is something that you can do on Facebook, and I imagine people tend rather more professional posts on LinkedIn, is that a key feature to be aware of, or is that something that's very specific to you if you're looking to build your own personal brand?
Jeremy Schifeling 8:32
Yeah, I would say, obviously, there are probably some folks in your listener audience who want to become this sort of thought leaders or influencers or whatever you want to call it. Maybe they're building their own business around their expertise. In that case, that absolutely makes sense. Like you said, you want to build this personal brand, you want to cultivate this following. That's great. And LinkedIn is good for that, Facebook is good for that, lots of tools in the universe. But if you're a classic job seeker, then think about it this way. Would you rather put a kind of silent prayer out to the universe saying, 'Hey, here's a random post, hopefully, this will magically lead to a job', or would you rather go right to the decision maker, the person at Barclays or Google, who is responsible for hiring for the job that you want next, and build a direct relationship with that person. If you're in my shoes, as an introvert, I'd rather not spend time having just random chats with people online hoping for the best, when I can laser in on the exact right person, and then go for that opportunity directly. That's why I really encourage really focused use of LinkedIn, versus just posting willy-nilly.
Jeremy Cline 9:39
That's interesting, particularly your use of the word focus there, because I suppose there probably is some merit in kind of creating this personal brand, so even if you are going for a job, and you approach some higher up in Barclays, then they might look at your profile and they might look at some of the stuff that you posted before, ah, you know, that's interesting. But it sounds to me like that's not necessarily a be all and end all. And so, yeah, okay, if you're inclined to do it anyway, then sure, but it's not something that you necessarily have to do, and it's not something that necessarily everyone should aspire to, because it might not be your forte, it might be something that just detracts from your own personal focus.
Jeremy Schifeling 10:21
Yeah, I think one thing I've learned over a decade of career coaching is that for so many people that career search is so frustrating, so energy depleting. And so, I know that people have limited time, limited energy to pursue these things. And if you say, I only have an hour to commit to it this week, because I'm busy, and it stresses me out to do a lot in this space, make that hour the biggest possible bang for your buck. And so, that means going directly to the source, getting access to the best opportunities, and then, if you have a little extra time, yeah, build the brand, do all the other stuff, the frosting on the cake, so to speak, but don't forget the batter, start with a batter, that's where it all begins.
Jeremy Cline 11:00
The first thing you do when you create a LinkedIn account is probably going to be to create a profile. So, can you start by telling us a little bit about what really is the purpose of your profile? What is it that you want it to tell people?
Jeremy Schifeling 11:19
Yeah, so I'm going to say something a little bit counterintuitive here, which is, once you understand the purpose of the profile, and I'll get to that in a second, I would actually not recommend that people spend a lot of time investing in their profile right off the bat, but instead, spend time investigating what it is they want, and then translate that into their profile. And here's why. So, for a profile on LinkedIn, there are really two key audiences when you're in job seeker mode. There's the human recruiter, again, all these top firms, HSBC, Apple, whatever firm you want to work for, and they're looking for talent on LinkedIn all the time, because it's the sort of definitive source for 800 million professionals around the world. But there's also the algorithm that they use. And we all know technology works very different than our human brains. And so, you really have to optimise your profile for both. But the nice unifying factor, the Venn diagram overlap, if you will, between those two audiences, is they both want focus. If you say on your LinkedIn profile, 'I'm unemployed, looking for a job', you will be found by exactly zero recruiters and exactly zero algorithmic searches, because that's not focused. That's completely unclear. Whereas, if you put in a couple hours of doing your homework, reaching out to people who maybe went to the same university, who lead interesting careers, and finding your career North Star upfront, then you can come back to your profile and lead it with 100%. clarity. I want to be a product manager or an investment banker or an analyst. And then, you're speaking the language of both the recruiter and the algorithm, because you're leading with that focus.
Jeremy Cline 12:54
So, you've just said how in your LinkedIn profile you can put aspirational statements, 'I want to do this, I want to do that.' That's going to come as a surprise to a lot of people who, I think, look at their profile as being akin to basically a resume.
Jeremy Schifeling 13:12
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about LinkedIn, because I have known lots of people who are very successful at attracting recruiters on LinkedIn. So, they have this dream that everyone wishes they had, which is recruiters from top firms are coming to them, essentially serving them job interviews on a silver platter. And yet, they're very unhappy, because the interviews are all for opportunities that are focused on what they used to do, not what they want to do next. In other words, they're typecast by their own profile. And so, the critical thing you must do, because recruiters are not mind reader's, they can't dive into your innermost thoughts and understand, 'Okay, Jeremy wants to pivot from podcasting into data science', you've got to communicate that in the form of keywords on your profile. This is what I aspire to do. This is where I'm headed. This is what I can do for you next. And in such a way, you break out of that typecast, and you actually craft your own future, because you're very explicit about what you want, versus just sort of sitting back and saying, 'Hey, I'm kind of stuck, just come and find me for the same old, same old.'
Jeremy Cline 14:14
So, does this go to, if you like, the top section of your LinkedIn profiles? You've got your name and your picture and your position, and then you've got a description, which is kind of all about you, and then you've got things like the career history and academic history and all that kind of thing. So, is what you're saying really focused on that first bit, or ideally, does it permeate through the whole profile in terms of searchability and focus?
Jeremy Schifeling 14:45
Yeah, very much the latter. And it has to do with the fact that, for the algorithm, I'm not just looking for a single instance of a keyword, so for example, data scientist, I'm looking for multiple instances and then variations that include all the skills. Things like Python or AV testing or whatever the sort of skills of the trade might include. And so, if you only had your headline, that little piece of text saying, 'Jeremy Cline, aspiring data scientist', that's a good start, but it's not sufficient. I need to see a layering of all those important keywords in your About section, even incorporating it into past work experiences where you say, maybe I was a podcaster, but I was analysing data to understanding trends in my audience. And that way, the algorithm picks you up, sort of catches your signal, if you will, and the recruiter says Jeremy now passes the believability test. He's not just some wannabe, he's actually starting to walk the talk, which gives him credibility in my eyes. So, you definitely want to make sure that your entire profile sings from the same hymnal, versus a scattered approach of a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Jeremy Cline 15:50
If you are an aspiring something, and you're aspiring to do something which is completely different on the face of it and completely unrelated to what you are doing, then, how would you approach that without it being forced? So, to take an example that I typically use, someone who might go from being a lawyer to wanting to be a data analyst. On the face of it, there's not that much crossover between the two. So, how would you describe your experience as a lawyer, which makes it consistent with that thread, but without sounding forced? So, yeah, as a lawyer, then obviously, I'm very analytical, or something like that, which could sound a little bit lame.
Jeremy Schifeling 16:40
Yeah. So, I think there's two key steps here. The first is to get credit for the skills you already have, and the second is to build the skills and experience that you need next. So, number one, and this is where most people don't give themselves enough credit, is take your profile or resume or CV as it exists today, find all the jobs that you want on a site like LinkedIn or Indeed, and then compare the two on a separate site called jobscan.co. And what Jobscan will do is it'll compare your current body of text with the most important keywords in the jobs that you want next. And it will say, 'Uh-huh, as a barrister, as a lawyer, you are missing out on things like', we talked about Python and Hadoop and all these very technical things that maybe you haven't mastered yet. But maybe there are things, like datasets or frameworks, that you've used a lawyer, that actually do speak the language of the firm you want to work for next. And so, it's up to you to incorporate all that into your headline, your About section, your work experience, so that you are getting credit for translating what you've done into the language of your new universe. So, that's number one. But then number two, realistically, you probably cannot go straight from a law firm into a data science role at Netflix, without spending a little time building your skill set and building your portfolio. And so, what I encourage people to do is not just take courses, on LinkedIn Learning or Coursera or otherwise, but to get chances to actually build out applications of those skills. So, one thing you can do on LinkedIn is you can network with volunteers or non-profit leaders in the NGO space and say, 'Hey, I bet you could use some really strong data science talent, but you probably can't afford to pay 200,000 US dollars to hire a data scientist. What if I did a project for you pro bono', again, speaking the language of the law, 'and actually helped you crunch some of your numbers, understand what is the impact of your work, are you driving the results you need that your donors are asking for?' And now, you're going to apply some of these new skills that you're learning, and you can put that right back on your profile. You know, 'Led data science project for the UK's largest child welfare non-profit, helping them identify three areas of opportunity to grow their impact. Used R, SQL and Python to compile my results.' And voila, just like that, you're not just putting the skills on there, but instead, you're getting real credit for the fact that you've applied them in a real-world context. And so, if you can lead with those two steps, get credit for what you already have, and then fill in the gaps with new skills and experiences, you're off to the races.
Jeremy Cline 19:22
The question I got asked by someone in my audience about the profile is, how can you craft it so that the right people find you, and more particularly, that you avoid being spammed?
Jeremy Schifeling 19:41
So, I would argue, first of all, I'm going to be a little bit sort of devil's advocate here, that being spammed on LinkedIn is probably not the worst thing. We talk a lot about social networks, Facebook is rife with Russian trolls, and Twitter is rife with bots, and all this stuff is sort of making your life miserable. And I totally get it, because there's not that much upside in those tools, so you probably want to keep it locked down, you want to keep everything as private as possible. But on LinkedIn, I would argue that a little bit of spam is a small price to pay for a recruiter from your dream company finding you and reaching out with an opportunity to interview for the role of a lifetime. You can think about how that could change the course of your career, and maybe even your life, I think a little spam is fine to put up with. So, I encourage people be as open as possible on LinkedIn. People tend to say, 'I want to keep it closed down, I don't want people to see my photo, I don't want people to see my profile.' When you're closing it down, yeah, you might be reducing spam, but you're also reducing opportunity. So, first thing about that mindset. And then, in terms of attracting the right people, it's all about using the right language. Again, recruiters aren't going through all 800 million profiles, one by one, handpicking the right people. They're using the algorithm to do their bidding. And the algorithm is not super fancy AI. Instead, it's basic pattern matching. Do you have the most important things that recruiters are searching for in your most important sections? And here's a power tip for your listeners, Jeremy. It turns out that all sections of the LinkedIn profile are not created equal. The headline versus the About section versus the work experience, all have different weights, because they have different game abilities. Basically, the idea that you can stuff all sorts of keywords into your work experience, but your headline is limited to just 160 characters, shorter even than a tweet. And therefore, it's given extra strength in LinkedIn's algorithm, because that's the truest, most authentic signal of who you are and what you can really do. And so, it's critical that you get the most important keywords, the job title that you want, the strongest skills for that job, into your headline, because that's where they give you the most credit.
Jeremy Cline 21:49
Things that are different stand out. There's a scientific name for a particular effect. But a lot of things do look very similar to each other. I mean, one thing that I noticed, for example, is SaaS products, Software as a Service products. If you go to any SaaS product website, it looks almost identical to any other SaaS product website. What are some of the things that you can do with your LinkedIn profile that not just makes it more searchable, but when it does come up in a search result, makes it stand out and memorable?
Jeremy Schifeling 22:29
First of all, imagine the LinkedIn recruiter screen. Just so your listeners know, there is the free LinkedIn that we're all used to, but there's a special platform that's reserved just for recruiters. And the way that LinkedIn reserves it is it charges 10,000 US dollars per year, per seat, just to access. And yet, almost every company in the world pays happily for this tool, because it's the only tool in the world to give them access to all the world's talent. And so, it's this really powerful platform where dreams are either fulfilled or crushed, frankly. And you must be on that platform at the top of those results in order to have recruiters checking you out. And so, now the question is, on that list of the top 20 search results for data analysts or product managers or accountants or whatever it is that you hope to be on, how do I, as a human recruiter, choose whom to reach out to? This is not just an academic question, because the reality is, even for all that money, recruiters often have only about 30 messages or 30 emails a month to reach out to new candidates. And so, I have to be very choosy about who I reach out to. And so now, let's get into the human psychology angle, because we've talked a lot about the algorithm, so the first thing is, obviously, the headline has to be optimised around what I'm searching for, and that's probably how you got into the screen in the first place. But we, as humans, are very, very prone to being influenced by images, not just by text. And in our own studies at LinkedIn, people with a profile photo on the platform were 14 times more likely to be selected than people who lacked a profile photo. So, the number one thing is, you've got to have a profile photo. And then, number two thing is, how do you make it stand out? What conveys charisma, excitement, passion, a great colleague, to a prospective employer? Well, there's lots of evolutionary science about what our smile suggests, and what our facial expressions suggest, but if you want to skip through all of that and just cut to the chase, I highly recommend a tool at snappr.com, that's S-N-A-P-P-R dot com, notice there's no E, a classic tech naming convention, and Snappr is a free tool that will analyse your LinkedIn profile based on all these things. What does sociology and psychology say about the way that your smile is coming through, the way that your facial expression is connoting how you would be as a teammate. And I think if you can get to a really good rate on that site, you're going to be in good shape with the human recruiter. And then, last thing, and this is really important, is if you can imagine a screen with all these top candidates on it, it's not just about the keywords, not even just about the profile photo, but there's a whole range of filters that I, as a recruiter, can apply to, again, differentiate, to your point, Jeremy. So, I can say, 'Only show me candidates who are actually open to new opportunities.' I don't want to waste one of those precious emails on someone who's really happy at their current job and will never come over to me. And so, everyone out there who wants a new job should be turning on 'Open to work' on their profile, because that simple signal is a binary switch. If you're open to work, I filter you in. If you're not, I filter you out. So, that's number one. Number two is, are you plugged into my company? Recruiters are nine times more likely to select a candidate who knows someone at the firm than someone who's a total stranger. And again, it just comes back to relationships, the ability to find sort of connective tissue. And so, I highly recommend that all your listeners start plugging into people at the firms, not just to get referrals, but to get filtered in on this switch. And then finally, a recruiter can say, 'I only want to see candidates who are following my firm on LinkedIn, because I don't want to waste time on anyone who's not interested in me.' And so, if you're interested in working for Barclays, if you're interested in working for BCG, follow those firms on LinkedIn, because the recruiters can see and filter for that. And that's how you stand out.
Jeremy Cline 26:24
You mentioned Snappr as a way of checking your profile picture. Are there any similar sites which can check those 160 words in your headline for any improvements?
Jeremy Schifeling 26:38
Yeah, great question. So, I really like jobscan.co for that, the tool that I referred to before, because it really is focused exclusively on keywords. And so, it's keywords, not just in your bullets, but also in your headline, your About section, making sure that every part of your profile is as optimised as possible, to nail those keywords.
Jeremy Cline 26:56
Let's talk a little bit about connections. At one end of the spectrum, I have heard that people try to connect on LinkedIn with basically as many people as they can possibly do. On the other hand, I have heard people say, 'No, it's important to be much more curated, frankly, there's no way you can stay in touch with 500+ people, it's really worth connecting only those with people that you do actually know, rather than those you don't know, and people that you've connected with, people that you're interested with.' There's the whole question about whether you should connect with people at the organisation that you already work for or not. So, you know, if you're already at Barclays, whether you should have 30 of the connections at Barclays, including your line manager and whoever. Where do you stand on all this?
Jeremy Schifeling 27:49
Yeah, good question. So, I definitely think that people should stick to their first principles in terms of, if I feel really uncomfortable inviting strangers into my network, I'm not asking you to cross that line. I totally get it. Everyone's got their own sort of personal philosophy on that. But what I think is a big shame is that the vast majority of LinkedIn users are not getting credit for the people that they actually know already. And the reason for that is, the average person knows about 10,000 people in the course of a lifetime, and yet the average user on LinkedIn has about 50 connections. So, you can see there's a big delta there, between the people that we really know in the world, and the people who LinkedIn knows that we know and gives us credit for. And to fill in that gap as fast as possible, I've got another hack for your listeners, which is rather than going one by one, trying to sort of dig deep into your memory to remember, hey, who was that person that I used to work with three jobs ago, instead, you can go to the My Network section of LinkedIn, and you can import your address books. And what is your Gmail address book but a digital archive of everyone you've known, everyone you've corresponded with over the years. And LinkedIn will pull that in and say, 'Hey, Jeremy, you've known Ken and Sarah and Lindsay, and you don't have connections with them on LinkedIn today, but you deserve credit for that, because you do know them in the real world.' And just like that, you can bring everybody in, get credit, and that's going to help you in a couple of ways. It's going to help you with that recruiter filter that we were just talking about, because you're more likely to be plugged into their companies, and when it comes time to find referrals, which we can talk about in a little bit, it's going to give you a lot more connectivity to people on the inside to get your foot in the door.
Jeremy Cline 29:29
So, are you talking about your own personal address book, or are you talking about a professional address book, if that is possible to import as well?
Jeremy Schifeling 29:37
Yeah, I would actually recommend both. In fact, you can not only upload personal address books and professional address books, you can also upload your phone's address book through the LinkedIn app, so basically triangulate all the aspects of your life where you have people stored.
Jeremy Cline 29:51
Do you not risk then, I mean, I might save all sorts of random contacts into my phone, I might be visiting some town on vacation, and for some reason, I want to put in the name of the local ice cream parlour or something like that, isn't there a risk that you end up just accidentally connecting with too many people who aren't really that relevant?
Jeremy Schifeling 30:14
Yeah, this is interesting, because it comes back to sociology. So, there's this idea, it's fairly well researched at this point, which is the power of weak ties. So, a lot of times, when we're searching for jobs, we focus exclusively on strong ties. In other words, friends, family members, saying, 'Hey, I'm looking for a job, can you help me out?' And they say, 'Oh, yeah, I really want to help you, but it turns out that we all know the same people and the same opportunities.' So, they're not that useful in terms of the final analysis. Versus, when researchers have investigated this, it's the weak ties, that person that we worked with five jobs ago, the person we went to university with 10 years ago, maybe we haven't stayed in touch really well, but they're the person who sits so far outside our day-to-day network, that they're the ones who are plugged into new opportunities. And they're the ones who are most likely to help us break down those doors and get those new jobs. And so, I highly recommend getting credit for people, even if you just barely know them, because those weak ties, statistically, are more likely to help you out.
Jeremy Cline 31:15
And what about the question as to whether you should either actively seek connections with people you currently work with or accept connection requests from people that you work with?
Jeremy Schifeling 31:28
Yeah, absolutely. So, I think, if you work with someone already, that's a no brainer. Because again, LinkedIn isn't just about playing this short-term game of let me get a job tomorrow. It's also a long-term game of a really great career that spans years and decades. So, think about the fact that, just based on any kind of statistical analysis, chances are you and your 30 closest colleagues will all not be at the same company 10 years from now. Instead, they will be at all the top firms in your industry, having spread out like a diaspora across finance or across accounting or whatever field you work in. And when it comes time for you to leave your firm and look for other opportunities for promotion, for a pay raise in that industry, guess what, the fact that you plugged in with those people a decade ago now makes it so easy for you to go back to them on LinkedIn, and say, 'Hey, you are now working at the top firm in this industry, I am so glad to reach out to you, because I would love to work for your firm.'
Jeremy Cline 32:25
And what about the person who wants to transition their career, and I can hear that they might not necessarily be all that keen on existing employees knowing that they are open to approaches, looking at careers in data science, looking at something else?
Jeremy Schifeling 32:45
Yeah, absolutely. And this is a really important point, because a lot of what we've talked about with the profile kind of focuses on idea that you can be a total free agent, and openly disclose, 'Here's my passion.' I know that's not a reality for many people out there who are currently employed but are desperate to change, but cannot risk their current employment. So, what I would recommend in that case is two things. Number one, the 'Open to work' signal that I was talking about before has two varieties, two flavours, if you will. The first one is completely wide open. You've probably seen that little green frame on people's profile photos with the hashtag 'Open to work' embedded in it. And that's great, again, you can be a total free agent, because you're sharing your signal widely, taking advantage of the power of weak ties. But if you're currently employed and not ready to go there, you can take the second flavour, the second variety, which only shares the signal with recruiters, and specifically only recruiters who don't work at your current company, so you don't have to worry about the HR department ratting you out to your current boss. So, that's one way to get your signal out there to just the right people, not to the wrong people. And then, number two, even if you can't do that, I think it would absolutely behove you to reach out directly to people in the industry that you want to move into for two reasons. Number one, you want to learn about that industry. Is it a good fit for you? What is it like on the inside? Is it going to ultimately strengthen your career? And then, number two, if I do decide that I want to take the plunge, can these people open the door a little bit for me? Can they give me a referral? Can they introduce me to a hiring manager? Can they give me a chance at a job that I wouldn't have had if I was just applying cold?
Jeremy Cline 34:24
And what about in terms of making changes to your profile? It's usually a bit of a catch 22 situation. So, you might have some keywords which point to some kind of a career change that you want to make, but on the other hand, as you said, you'd might not necessarily want to risk your current employment situation. So, against that backdrop, do you just avoid connecting with existing work colleagues, or how do you manage that?
Jeremy Schifeling 34:54
Yeah, well, I think it's never a bad time or a bad reason to connect with existing colleagues. So, if you are at your firm, and you're thinking, 'Hey, I'm going to leave this firm someday and move into a totally different industry', you might think to yourself, 'Well, there's really no reason to stay in touch with these guys, because I'm done with finance. Now I'm going to be a computer programmer.' But guess what, in 10 years' time, not only are those people switching companies, maybe they're switching industries as well. Maybe they have moved into the space that you want to be in, and so they're also helpful in that new capacity. And I know this is a tough one for us to deal with as humans, because we're so short-term focused, we're so focused on what we need to do tomorrow, not what we're going to do 10 years from now. But I really encourage your listeners, Jeremy, to play the long game, to plant the seeds today that they may not reap and harvest for a decade or more. And LinkedIn gives you the chance to play that game so well, because it's so easy to make that first step, to plant those seeds, to build the relationships that will pay off somewhere down the road. And then, as far as what you do with your profile, even if you can't change your profile today, you can absolutely change your resume or CV, because that's private, it's on your hard drive, and so you can incorporate all the keywords that are really critical into that document, which, of course, you send out directly to employers, so your current employer never sees that.
Jeremy Cline 36:13
Let's just talk about LinkedIn as a networking tool and as a tool for staying in contact with people. Is LinkedIn a good way to stay in touch with people? So, on Facebook, you can post status updates and that kind of thing. If you're someone who wants to maintain relationships with old colleagues and that kind of thing, is LinkedIn a good medium for doing that, or is it something else, like good old email?
Jeremy Schifeling 36:47
Yeah, great question. So, I have a very strong feeling about this, which is, it's not just LinkedIn, but pretty much any of these social networks are really poor platforms for maintaining genuine relationships. By which I mean, someone feels really connected to you, you feel like you have a strong bond, I think just seeing a random post here or random like there isn't ever going to be enough to trigger this innate social desire we have to really know someone, to really be connected to someone. And so, I actually have another hack, the leverage of the power of technology to reinforce our humanity. And that is, one thing that we are not good at, as I just indicated, is really playing that long game and remembering things in the long term. But technology, of course, is great at that, because technology has no bounds when it comes to memory. And so, what I do is, when there's someone that I really want to stay in touch with on a regular basis over time and build and strengthen that relationship, when I send them the first email, maybe a first email to chat or grab coffee, I put a little thing into the BCC line that says, 'Every six months @followupthen.com', and followupthen.com is another free resource, like everything I've shared today, that will automatically bring that email back to your inbox, just like it says, every six months. And that's a reminder to say, 'Hey, I'm not just going to go on LinkedIn and like you or share stuff from you, but I'm going to reach out to you on a semi-annual basis and say, let's grab more coffee, or let's catch up on Zoom', because that's the kind of real relationship building resource that I think makes great connections, great strength over time.
Jeremy Cline 38:24
Is this specifically something like a Chrome extension, or is this something that you can use even with your regular work email on Outlook, or whatever it is?
Jeremy Schifeling 38:35
Oh, yeah, totally platform agnostic. So, basically, it works with any email platform, and it's totally free.
Jeremy Cline 38:41
Fantastic. So, with all these options available to you, how do you figure out how best to use LinkedIn to meet your own personal goals?
Jeremy Schifeling 38:54
I think it does start with that really critical last word, which is what are your goals, right? I think so often as job seekers, or just as professionals, we have this vague sort of nagging sensation of, oh, we better be doing something on LinkedIn, you better be doing something with professional branding. But what it is, we're not sure, because we don't really know why we're doing it. And so, I think, having clarity with yourself about do I want a new job, do I want a promotion, do I want to scratch an itch to try something different, even if you have just a vague sense of what that is, having that clear North Star helps to illuminate all the subsequent steps. So, for example, if someone says, 'Hey, I know that I'm not happy in my current role, and I'm not sure what it is I want to do, maybe setting a goal of in six months, I want to have talked to five different people in different industries to explore their pathways.' That takes something that's very vague, very hard to measure, makes it concrete, makes it realisable. And of course, that's the kind of thing you can do exactly on LinkedIn, because you can go to your university's page and say, 'Show me everybody with the same Major that I had', philosophy, economics, political science, whatever it might have been. And now, I can find out, oh, this person is working in the NGO sector, this person is working for government, this person is working on a sustainability initiative. Let me reach out, based on the shared connection we have, and learn from their experience. And there isn't an alum in the world who doesn't like to pay it forward to someone who's curious and wants to follow in their footsteps. And so, if you can commit to that, now, LinkedIn is not just another social network to waste time on, but a really focused tool to help you achieve this important goal.
Jeremy Cline 40:34
And last question, in terms of the way that LinkedIn has evolved over time, and how it might evolve in the future, is this something where, I think you said this at the start, you just focus on its key functionality and kind of ignore the rest? Because these sorts of platforms, they're always changing algorithms, they're always switching things up a bit. Is that something to be concerned with, or can you just ignore it, if you just focus on the basics?
Jeremy Schifeling 41:02
Yeah, I think putting blinders on, when it comes to technology, is often really helpful. Because as a technology marketer myself, I know that we're often trying to distract you, trying to engage you in things that are good for our business, maybe not for yours. And so, I think, if you focus on that core functionality and how it relates to your personal goal, you're going to be more successful than someone who's always chasing the latest fad, or the latest sort of flash in the pan. That being said, I do think the one thing about the future of both LinkedIn and hiring in general that raises some questions is the rise of AI in the space. Because what we've been talking about today is technology enabled, but it's fundamentally human driven, which is, at the end of the day, when we use the algorithm as recruiters, we're using it to find people who match our patterns, match the way that we recognise top talent. And then, we ultimately choose them based on human things like, you know, does your profile photo attract me, do you seem charismatic, do you seem engaged, all these things that we've hired on for hundreds of years. But there's currently a big trend towards AI-based video interviewing tools, AI-based hiring tools in some cases. And I think, as that becomes more and more of a black box, it's really important for people to pay attention to what's happening, because, as that shifts away from humanity, we need to understand the direction it's moving in to ensure that we're still a part of that puzzle in the years to come.
Jeremy Cline 42:26
That's something we could probably dive into a lot more, but I think we better leave it there. You've already mentioned some great resources there, certainly that I'd never heard of. Do you have any other recommendations for, I mean, apart from your own book, any other books that people can look into about LinkedIn or networking in general, or blogs or other websites or just other tools that people can look into?
Jeremy Schifeling 42:49
Yeah, one of the books that really made a big difference for me when I was starting my career was a book by Steve Dalton called The 2-Hour Job Search. And really, what the power of this is, because I actually got a chance to meet Steve who works at Duke University and their business school, is that, even if you're not an extrovert, even if you're an introvert like me, this networking that can seem so overwhelming, so intimidating, really just boils down to a couple of basic things that connects all humanity, all people. And if you can just focus on that, you can be successful, no matter how your personality is wired. So, for anyone out there who's like, 'Jeremy, all that that you just shared is great, but I feel really scared to implement it, in terms of talking to new people and reaching out to strangers', check out The 2-Hour Job Search, because it walks you through that.
Jeremy Cline 43:34
I'll put a link to that in the show notes. And where would you like people to go to check you out, to find your book, all that good stuff?
Jeremy Schifeling 43:43
Yeah. So, if you want to learn more about the book and even get a free LinkedIn profile review, from yours truly, you can go to thejobinsiders.com.
Jeremy Cline 43:51
Brilliant. Link to that in the show notes as well. Well, Jeremy, thank you so much, a huge wealth of tips, I really wasn't expecting quite so many tips, so you definitely overdelivered in that. Yeah, just thank you so much for coming on the show.
Jeremy Schifeling 44:06
Thank you for the opportunity, Jeremy. And good luck to all your listeners out there.
Jeremy Cline 44:09
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Jeremy Schifeling. My goodness, there are a lot of very, very practical tips there. Like any tool, LinkedIn is only as good as the use that you make out of it, which is why it's so important to identify just what you want it to do for you. If you want to create a personal brand and become an influencer, then sure, post every few days, build up an audience. But the clear message from Jeremy was, don't get distracted by that if what you really want to use it for is to connect with the right people. So, lots of great tips there, and of course, if you missed anything and want to go back, there's a full transcript and a summary of all we talked about on the show notes page for this episode, which is at changeworklife.com/139, that's changeworklife.com/139, for Episode 139. Of course, I'd love it if you shared all my episodes, but this one in particular, I'm sure is full of tips that people you know can take advantage of, in terms of how to use LinkedIn. So, please do share this episode, there's buttons where you can share it on social media, on the show notes page for the episode, or maybe just share it on LinkedIn. Next time, we've got an episode all about tigers. Well, kind of. In this case, tigers are your talents, your natural abilities. And we're going to be talking about how you uncover your natural abilities, and how you can make the most of them. It's a really interesting conversation, so if you haven't subscribed to the show already, make sure you subscribe, and I can't wait to see you in the next episode. Cheers. Bye.
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