Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m an executive with a multinational firm in the process of closing its U.S. manufacturing facilities. In anticipation of further restructuring, I wish to seek new employment, and consider LinkedIn to be a powerful vehicle to spread the word. However, I do not wish for colleagues to catch wind of my intentions. How does one use LinkedIn to seek employment while still employed? — Jules
Dale: First, if you haven’t been keeping up, LinkedIn is an Internet service akin to Facebook, but aimed at business/professional use. Every time someone invites me to join their LinkedIn network, I respond by saying that I’m happy to but that I’ve yet to find a good use for it, and I ask how they’re using it. And every time, the reply is something like, “I haven’t figured out how to make it useful, but when I do, I’ll let you know.” So far, no one has done so.
J.T.: Perhaps you’re expecting too much. Its use is in finding colleagues and keeping in touch.
Dale: Point taken. But getting back to Jules’ case, he wants to reach out to everyone about his need for a new job … but hold on … not quite everyone. You can’t go to a network designed to spread news and ask it not to spread the news too far.
J.T.: So, Jules, the best use of LinkedIn will be to know where to contact all your old colleagues. Then you’ll send them private, individual e-mails that let them know you’d love their advice (i.e., who to contact) on a possible career move. Will some of your co-workers find out? It’s possible, but keep in mind that most of us understand the situation and know to be discreet.
Dale: When your co-workers hear about your search, it’s likely they’ll come to you and say that they, too, are looking, whereupon you’ll offer to help one another. Further, with or without LinkedIn, you’ve got to be prepared for your employer to find out. Sometimes that can even be a good thing — management may work to get you to stay on. Even so, be discreet with your networking — a wise manager will appreciate the option of looking the other way.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten’s latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons).
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© 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.