When you’re first starting your career, it can be difficult to know how to use LinkedIn, and you may question the value of creating your personal brand, but one of the wisest decisions to make as you’re fresh out of Coding Bootcamp or have recently graduated school is to learn to network effectively.
Whether we like it or not, LinkedIn has become the place to practice networking at scale. Every recruiter has a LinkedIn Premium Account and spends most of their day logged in. They take a look at other social networks, occasionally, but their LinkedIn profile is home base.
Most job listings for tech roles are posted on LinkedIn, many developers have launched a rewarding career on Linkedin, and some have found their dream job through a random connection finding their LinkedIn profile.
Is LinkedIn good for getting a job as a software engineer?
After helping thousands of coding bootcamp and recent college grads get their first jobs and start their careers, Jason Humphrey will be the first person to tell you that LinkedIn is far from perfect. But if you want to get a job in 2021, you will have to spend some time on LinkedIn almost every day until you do.
Over the years, Jason has learned many tricks to speed things up and maximize your chances of getting a great job. In the following video he will break down a few different approaches to doing LinkedIn right, and getting the results you need to take your career to the next level.
How do you make connections on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn can help software engineers network with the right people and land the right job for them, and it’s the platform where most virtual networking is happening these days. But, you can’t just start direct-messaging every CTO and tell them to give you a job. You have to be strategic and make connections as organically as possible without resorting to spamming everyone on the site.
1. Tell people you are a developer
Let friends, family, people that you know from previous jobs, and existing LinkedIn connections know that you are now a web developer and you’re looking for a new job. This sounds easy enough, but there’s one thing that most people get wrong during the announcement of their new career pivot.
Be specific in describing your background and experience, the kind of work you’d like to do, the kinds of companies or industries you would like to work for, and if they are technical themselves, tell them about your tech stack of choice. Don’t send them out en masse.
Don’t start sending everyone the same message. Take some time with these messages, and make sure you are polite. Don’t forget to ask how they are as well and be a good person! Remind people how they know you, what you did together and how it was positive for you, what you accomplished, and other fun memories. Then let them know what you’ve been up to recently, what you’ve learned, how you learned it, and what you’re ready to do next.
They may have moved into a more senior role somewhere, or know people who have, and can make introductions and help you get your foot in the door at companies you weren’t even considering. If they are technical, they may know of jobs on their team that don’t even have listings yet. And they may be starting a business and need a new website to sell a digital product. You never know until you reach out and ask.
Telling everyone you know that you are now a web developer should be one of the final steps before graduation from a bootcamp. Every entrepreneur and business in the world relies on web developers to compete and grow, so even if your outreach doesn’t lead to a full time job, you can find quick freelance projects all around you.
You’d be surprised to find out how many software engineers got their start when someone they already knew paid them to work on a small budget simple website for a DJ, church, yoga studio, or other small business and it led them to massive success.
Working on a freelance project will also lead to great stories you can tell in interviews about how you interfaced with stakeholders and helped provide a real business solution with your skills. Hiring managers also love to see completed real-world projects in your portfolio. It can be a breath of fresh air, reviewing portfolio projects built for real clients after seeing dozens of bootcamp student portfolios, with 2 or 3 template-driven projects you’ve seen hundreds of times.
2. Publish content and leave comments
Creating and posting content on LinkedIn may seem intimidating at first, but it can be the fastest way to put yourself out there and let recruiters, hiring managers, and other developers know you exist at the beginning of your job search. Post about what you are working on, what you recently learned or tried to do, and you can occasionally mention that you are looking for a new job.
You should also spend a little time each day commenting on other people’s posts and finding ways to be helpful to other people on LinkedIn. You can make introductions, and let other job seekers know about job listings that look like a fit based on their skills and background. You could also be encouraging and offer ideas to help other job seekers who you notice posting their frustrations, setbacks, and fears around the job search and interview process.
3. Connect with people who are hiring and help other job seekers
One of the best ways to find recruiters and other people on LinkedIn who are looking to hire is with the right search query. Once you have a good query and you start getting lots of hits, you can drill down and filter specific companies, locations, and your field of interest. With this approach, you should be able to find anywhere from 10 to 20, up to 50 different people you could reach out to and connect within a single search.
To find recruiters with open listings log into LinkedIn, click on the search bar, and enter the following query:
technical recruiter AND “we’re hiring”
You can also try this with other job titles like CEO, CTO, Project, and Product Manager.
CTO AND “we’re hiring”
And you can find other developers who work on similar technologies as you and are interested in helping people get jobs at their companies by trying queries like this:
The top 3 mistakes to avoid making on LinkedIn
If you’re hoping to get a seat at the table of any company, the earlier you begin networking the better. But it’s not enough to simply get a bunch of connections and start blasting mass messages in their DMs. A sloppy attempt at networking on LinkedIn can set you back so you need to learn to network the right way. Check out these three LinkedIn networking mistakes to avoid coming off as rude, desperate, and not prepared.
1. Don’t send vague and common messages
If you’re trying to network on LinkedIn, you must make efforts to be different from the vast flood of people who join the network every day and also wish to connect with your future co-workers or the company you’re interested in. Avoid sounding too vague, or beating around the bush with weird non-questions.
One of the most common pieces of advice we give networkers is to be straightforward with what you want. When you contact whoever you want to connect with, be courteous and professional, but most importantly, clarity of message and preciseness are key!
2. Don’t send open-ended messages when enquiring about a hiring process
You often find job seekers looking to network on LinkedIn asking questions that can fetch them a resounding “NO.” as a reply.
Sending open-ended messages like “I just wanted to know if you are hiring…” is a waste of the recipient’s time, energy, and expertise because if you check the company page, you would likely find the answers to questions like this.
Why not try more direct questions that will make the individuals involved interested in reaching out to you? For instance, you can show that you have done your research and say that you know that the company is hiring for a Software Developer position.
Then ask whether the individual would be open to discussing with you about the position to clarify the responsibilities of the role. This is useful if you are contacting a recruiter or potential co-worker.
3. Provide enough context when you ask for help
One mistake you may be making as you network is failing to provide context when you ask for help on LinkedIn. If you’re reaching out to someone that works in a company you want to work with, it’s a good idea to let them know why you are contacting them for help. This will help them to trust you better and perhaps, give your request a thought.
You can start with your experience, what you’re looking for, and who you think can help you. Here is an example of what a job seeker can say:
“Hi Josh, I’m interested in joining a goal-driven team as a Web Developer, and saw your post about an open role at your company. Are you the right person to contact for this role?
Please let me know if I can email you, thanks!”
Is LinkedIn Premium Worth It?
There are LinkedIn Premium features that offer career development with LinkedIn Learning courses and other premium services that boost your online presence so you stand out as a featured applicant in front of other applicants and LinkedIn profiles.
LinkedIn Premium offers other premium career services such as unlimited searches and provides extra data around job listings that help you easily research companies.
It might also seem like it doesn’t matter, but the icon you can put on your profile when you have a LinkedIn Premium Account is a great way to let people know how serious you are about building connections. You might be shocked at how much more seriously people take you when you display that icon on your profile.
LinkedIn is worth it, but only if you’re doing it right
LinkedIn is a great place to build connections and network with other LinkedIn users, but it’s not always easy. If you are making these networking mistakes while job searching, then your LinkedIn page might not be doing as much for you as it could.
Reaching out to a LinkedIn contact through cold outreach can be intimidating at first, but with constant practice with the tips we have shared, you will get the hang of it in no time and continue to improve at it. It may feel like you are in competition with unlimited people looking for their next job, but all it takes is one connection to notice your potential.
Connect with us on LinkedIn to get more tips like this every week and reach out if you’re having trouble navigating your own job search.