Depression job lineLast summer I decided I wanted to move to a different company and the way that I used LinkedIn to quickly get a new job illustrates how different job hunting is today from just a few years ago.

I was a very early adopter of LinkedIn: member 58,795 out of more than 200 million. And I had steadily built up my LinkedIn contacts over the years; by last summer I had over 800 contacts. But I had not kept my LinkedIn profile entirely up to date.

Today for professionals our LinkedIn profile is our resume, and it’s available online for anyone to see anytime. So the first thing I did was spend a couple weeks buffing and polishing my profile. I added fuller descriptions of the positions I had held and significant accomplishments. I was aware of weaving in appropriate keywords, too, because a LinkedIn profile can be found by people searching within LinkedIn and on major search engines based on keyword searches. Aside from my name, in the past few weeks some of the most popular keywords that have led people to my profile have included ISITE, Sitecore, Eloqua, business development, Drupal, design and AMA.

Critically, I asked people I had associated with in previous jobs for recommendations and in a couple weeks I had over a dozen short statements of recommendation. (LinkedIn’s new “endorsements” feature didn’t exist then; now, without asking, I have an additional 150-plus endorsements. That matters.)

When my profile was ready I sent emails through LinkedIn to about 150 of my best contacts. They were selected both for their positions and connections, and because they weren’t well connected to the senior management of the company I was working at at the time. While it’s commonplace now for people to know when someone is looking to leave a company and to keep that confidential, at the same time I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone or put them in an awkward position. In my email I didn’t ask people for a job, I simply let them know that I was starting to look and that If they knew of any openings I would appreciate hearing about them.

I quickly had a lot of responses. Within a few weeks had more than 10 meetings and calls. One day I took a personal day and had four meetings. In prepping the night before and looking over the next day’s meetings, I thought that the one at ISITE looked the most interesting and promising. And so it was. Within just a few weeks I had several other meetings and calls with senior ISITE people and in about a month from sending out that LinkedIn email I was offered a position.

There’s a saying in job hunting that you should plan on a month of job hunting for every $10,000 of salary. Using LinkedIn, I beat that formula by a long, long shot. When I first started looking I had talked to a few recruiters; when I emailed them just a month later to let them know I had accepted a new job they were astonished at how quickly that had happened.

To some degree I was lucky, of course – timing is everything. But, was Seneca the first to say this?, “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” And there is no doubt that LinkedIn was the central element of connecting with the ISITE opportunity. It is one of the most important means by which professional jobs are found in the 21st Century.

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