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A question I am often asked is “How do I use LinkedIn if I am changing careers?” If you are thinking about making a career change, and would like to know what role LinkedIn can play in helping you make that move, please read on.

1. Learn as Much as You Can About Where You Plan to Go

Career change takes time and planning is an essential part of making a successful career change. As we move into the mid stages of our career there is often a disconnect between our passions and our professions. The challenge, and opportunity, is to work out how these two seemingly disconnected worlds can collide. It is only when I look back on my career change that I realise everything I did in my career has led me to where I am now.

If you are thinking about making a career change, start to read as much as you can about the industry or function you want to join. It is also worth understanding the industry peak bodies and even attending industry events. But how do you find out about these? Where do you start? LinkedIn is so much more than a job hunting site. It’s also an invaluable source of industry news. By following relevant companies on LinkedIn you can stay up to date with their news, updates and jobs.

LinkedIn offers you the option to tailor your newsfeed, so you receive relevant news related to your interests. To tailor your newsfeed, please visit this LinkedIn resource.

2. Tell Your Story via Your LinkedIn Profile

The next important step is to cast a critical eye over your LinkedIn Profile and ensure it is sharing the whole you as this relates to where you are heading. Rather than treat your profile as a cut and paste of your resume, use the following key features to share your career story:

  • background image
  • headline
  • summary
  • experience

Take the time to explain where you’ve been and where you are heading in your LinkedIn Profile summary to help give people a sense of you as a professional. If you view LinkedIn like a virtual room, then your LinkedIn Profile is you! So please refer to yourself in the first person (e.g. you talking about you) and give people a taste of your personality and what you believe in. Keep it professional.

For more details on understanding the fundamental differences between your LinkedIn Profile and Resume, please read this article.

3. Develop a Networking Plan with Key Influencers in Your Network

When we develop Career Action Plans for our clients, networking for your next role is always at the top of the list of how to make your next career move. When making a career change, networking is also an essential part of your plan. This is especially true if you are currently employed and so not able to publicly announce your career change plans.

Start by making a list of close contacts you’ve worked with who know, like and trust you and value you as a professional. Then review the industries they work in by researching their current and previous roles on LinkedIn via their profiles. You may be pleasantly surprised that some of your trusted colleagues may only be one or two connections away from decision makers in the industry you want to move in to.

By reaching out to previous colleagues and connections you can explore their advice for employment trends in their industry, which could open many doors and assist in your research for future opportunities that may play a role in your career change.

Remember to treat your connections like gold and reach out personally via messaging with a tailored message suggesting a suitable type of catch up (e.g. phone call, coffee, drink), based on your knowledge of this person and your relationship. Let them know you are seeking their advice, rather than asking them if they know of any jobs available. People are far more likely to give you their perspective on the opportunities that exist and their views on their industry if you demonstrate you value their opinion. Taking the time to reach out to your network and let them know where you are at means they are also more likely to recommend you for opportunities that come up after they’ve learnt more about your future career plans.

If you are not familiar with LinkedIn messaging, here’s more information on how to use it.

4. Sign up for LinkedIn Job Alerts

LinkedIn provides email alerts for job listings in your desired career field. You can customise these alerts by job function, location, keyword and other factors to make sure you’re receiving exactly the opportunities you want. Reviewing available positions is a great research tool to help you determine the types of roles currently available in the industries you’d like to move into.

Reviewing potential roles will also help you understand the transferrable skills that will assist your successful career change. LinkedIn recommends that when applying for a job in a new profession, provide a detailed cover letter that maps your experience to the job requirements. If you can connect the dots for the employer, and showcase why you are a good fit for the job, you will be more successful in the application process.

To set up Job Alerts, please read this article.

5. Review Think Bespoke’s Mid Career Planning Resources

I made my career change the long way around. To read more about my story and access our complimentary Mid Career Planning resources, please click here.

And remember . . . a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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