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I see many suggestions to search for jobs and internships via social networks like Linkedin.

But how exactly is this to be done? If I send a message to some Linkedin connections (in some good companies) there's a large chance he/she won't reply. So what then ? How do I get noticed, specifically if I'm an undergraduate student from an average Indian university?

  • The question is not whether the university is average, but whether you are. In the West at least, people pay less attention to the school than they do to the person. – Meredith Poor Sep 13 '13 at 1:10
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The trick to social networking is that it's just a tool. The value of the tool is the value of your raw materials - the actual network of people who you know, who know you and your work, and who respect you. Whether you exercise this network old school style with a Rolodex or in the modern age with Linked In or another medium, it's the depth of actual personal contacts that generally offers the value over something like a relatively anonymous job site.

When you're just starting out as an intern or new college hire, this network is necessarily thin. The key is to build it, and use the tools for their ultimate power - keeping track of people, how you know them, what they are up to and how you can connect these points into a win/win situation with your next career move.

Job Postings

In my experience, any "please apply here" style of job posting is going to raise the problem of more volume than any intake mechanism can reasonably and intelligently parse. The more elite and limited the posting venue, the more likely you are to hear back quickly - the broader the base, the more likely that the intake mechanism is so deluged by applications that responses will be slow and the feedback/turnaround may be sketchy overall.

A point for comparison - I've found using Stack Overflow Careers with smaller companies has a high success rate. Using Linked in with little to know follow up via my personal network has been largely unsuccessful, and with some highly prominent companies, almost any anonymous mechanism has been completely pointless.

The best vector for job applications via social media is that you also use the media to contact your personal contacts that might be able to help and mentioning your interest. The user interfaces on sites like Linked In usually facilitate that sort of communication. The power of an internal reference in many companies is profound enough that it'll get your resume to the top of the pile.

Job Research

The truth of any job search is you only really need one job offer, if it's the right job. If there was a magical way of instantly matching the right person and the right job, we could all save quite a bit of effort interviewing with each other, reviewing benefits packages, building resumes, and applying over and over again.

The goal with an effective search is not to reach every employer - but to pick, apply to, and successfully interview with employers who offer work you want to do, in environments you'll like, that you yourself are qualified to do. A job description and a resume are the crudest ways of figuring out these three qualities. A better way is your network.

As you start searching for jobs and companies, keep an eye on the aggregate information of your social network. Ask things like: - who do you know working in a similar industry? - how many folks that you know and like are working in this region, industry or company? - do you have any friends of friends that are in the industry?

Almost every social networking tool offers a feature that wasn't available in your Rolodex - the power of "who knows who?" If you've fallen in love with a company through your research on sites like Linked in, or job review sites like Glass Door - then start digging through your network. Don't stop at the gap where you don't have any friends who work there - do you have any second degree connections? How do your connections know the other connection. That's not always obvious - but sometimes it's easy - folks who both worked at the same company or went to the same school will both have these aspects on their profiles. Start asking your friends - "you know anyone who works at X?"

The real gold of a social network is being able to vet the company you're applying to and give the company an extra way to vet you. Just because a company looks great on a large job review site does not mean it's a great company for you. Sitting down with an employee for a cup of coffee can be very enlightening about the real culture that can't easily be described on a simple survey. Similarly - you are more than your resume. Making a contact at a company who has faith in you who will be your advocate internally is a huge benefit.

Broadcasting and Sharing

The last great thing about a social network of any sort is the ability to let others know what's up with you. The trick to having a friend do you the favor of helping you get an interview or filling you in on conditions in a given job prospect is that you have to do the same in reverse. Keep others in the loop with a clear and complete profile. Drum up interest with notes about your endeavors. That way you're in a position to help others if requested.

It's a fine line - I generally stick to broadcasting the good stuff, or the very impersonal. Example:

  • Good stuff: "Wow, just finished a major project. Stay tuned to the company website for a product release! It was hard work and we're really proud of it!"

  • Impersonal stuff: "Just read XYZ book by ABC author. What a waste of time. I wanted to learn X, but found that they only skimmed the surface... looking for more good resources here." Given that ABC author isn't my pal, my collegue or anything personal to me, there's really no damage here... I'm just suggesting a thing worth skipping.

The trick is to avoid the work drama or critique of a person or organization you're affiliated with. If you have negative feedback about something you know personally - give it privately, don't broadcast it. And keep company proprietary information private.

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There are more than a few routes one can take:

  1. Jobs directly posted on LinkedIn - There are some companies that will post positions directly on the site and you could apply to these for one route that can be taken.

  2. Update your status and headline on LinkedIn - Does your profile state you are looking for opportunities? This can be another useful option to consider.

  3. Mail your connections - Have you considered sending out a mass message that you are looking for something and do they know people looking for someone with your skill set?

  4. LinkedIn groups - Have you looked to see if there are groups that may focus in the industry you want to work or geographically new you?

That's 4 possibilities. Another option is to consider researching companies through LinkedIn or find recruiters that may also be a useful option depending on if there are local companies that hire often.

Course if you are at a university, do they have a career services department or some group that may help place you in internships? That may be better than social media at times.

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The first thing to consider is 'what would you talk about on LinkedIn?'. You have to flip this upside down - 'What would I want to hear from others on LinkedIn?'. This might include knowledge of job openings, technological developments, discussion of computer language features, etc. Time and time again people that are clearly students get on LinkedIn (and StackExchange) and ask 'Does anyone know where there's a good introductory book for C++?'.

One presumes that you intend to find full time work on graduation. So the highest priority is being 'known' by potential employers. An online resume is the place to start - create as complete a profile as possible. Within that, however, there has to be some evidence of skills, and this comes from a combination of group enrollment and correspondence. Therefore, after you sign up for C++ and/or Linux and/or MySQL, you start posting questions. In the meantime, you start coding some projects on these platforms, so that your questions relate to an ongoing task. These questions should only appear after search options are exhausted - if you're having problems and can't get help it's good to ask - if the answer would be obvious on a trivial search don't ask it again.

The 'third dimension' of all this is your English language composition and general regard for the other users - would you be a good fit in a workplace based on communication skill and personality? This will all become clear as you do the stuff named above. You might want to in some way appear 'outstanding' - probably the better thing to do is 'just be normal'. This will leave people with the impression that 'we're all in this together'.

  • I like the emphasis on asking good questions where search is a prerequisite, as employers won't be turned off by good, thought-provoking questions; but they may be turned off by ones that show one didn't put any thought into asking them... – jmort253 Sep 13 '13 at 2:38

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