Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Need Help? Be Specific About What You're Seeking in Your LinkedIn Status Update

Here are two status updates I've recently seen for my contacts on LinkedIn (names have been removed).

"(Student's name) is seeking a new professional opportunity"

"(Student's name) seeks a position with a growing company"

There are others I could share along the same vein: people are asking for help, but in such a general way as to undermine my ability to step forward with specific suggestions. I don't know the meaning of "professional opportunity." What it means to me no doubt differs from what it means to that student, which leaves me confused and frustrated in my ability to respond to such pleas for assistance.

I urge my students to be as specific as possible when crafting these status updates -- and in asking for help in general. That might mean identifying specific industries, companies, or functions that give me a clearer indication of what they're seeking, so in turn I can better direct them to individuals or organizations that might be able to help.

In offering such advice, I continue to return to the title of the Joe Jackson song: you can't get what you want until you know what you want. I add that remaining vague about what you want (or being open to "anything") often leads to frustration and a lengthy job-search process -- even in the best of times.

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