Everyone has a dream career. It’s probably not much different from the answer you gave to the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question when you were younger.
Eventually, hopefully by the time you’ve come to the end of your college career, you’ve decided how you want to execute that dream. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a writer, but you got your degree in new media to give yourself more career options.
The longing for your dream job (although the reality of achieving mightn’t seem quite as feasible as when you were younger), doesn’t go away. With modern online tools like LinkedIn, your dreams aren’t far off. With a little professional networking, you might be able to land that dream job everyone told you was too impossible to reach.
Here’s what you can do to get there:
Connect with people in your desired industry
Unlike Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn is not about connecting with all your friends and staying up-to-date on what they’re up to. It’s a social network meant not only to showcase your experience and accomplishments, but also to connect with people already building successful careers in the industry you’re trying to weave your way into.
Make connections with co-workers, potential employers and those whose work and accomplishments reflect those you dream of being able to list on your own profile someday. Online networking is still networking. By sharing relatable articles and keeping up with what those who currently have your dream job are up to, you can start building relationships and shaping your career before you even interview for a position.
Publish your thoughts on best practices and current events
Potential employers want to know you have background knowledge about the industry you wish to work for, and there’s more to your profile than your contact info and past job descriptions. LinkedIn’s publishing feature allows you to compose your thoughts about an industry-related list of strategies or a current event that can show industry leaders you are not only paying attention to what’s going on, but are able to respond to it in a thoughtful, professional manner.
That being said, LinkedIn is not a place for heavily opinionated blog posts. Showcase your ability to do your research and present both sides of an argument. Employers, no matter the industry, should be able to look at your posts and evaluate your written communication skills when deciding if you are a good fit for their company. Also, if you can do all these things while showing your connections and that you are passionate about the subject you’re writing about, you’re already climbing your way up toward your dream job faster than you think.
Join the discussion, or start your own
Joining discussion groups on LinkedIn isn’t just like joining a forum on another website. Think of these groups as places to discuss questions and issues in the industry you’re looking to enter. Even if you don’t connect with every person you interact with in these groups (and you shouldn’t necessarily), these people see your name and, over time, are able to pair your thoughts and viewpoints with who you are, or who you want to be, professionally.
There are groups for just about anything: organizations or societies, subjects like social media and writing and even student groups. Try to interact with people who have similar interests as you or who are working toward similar career goals, if they have’t already achieved them. Who knows? You might end up sitting in an interview with them someday, and if you’re an active participant in joining and/or starting online discussions, they might even remember you. First impressions are everything, after all.
We now live in an age where potential employers can get to know you even before you meet them face-to-face, just by reading through your profile. It’s more than a resume. Your profile, if used correctly, can become your ticket to the career you’ve always wanted, no matter how many others are working toward the exact same thing.
Featured photo credit: Nan Palmero via flickr.com