LinkedIn: Cerebral Palsy Career Builder
for College Students

By Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, Disability Employment Expert
______________________________________________________

I was updating my LinkedIn connections as I was watching CNN the other day, and I heard one of the commentators say this:

“There are three things today’s employers want in a job candidate: 

“First, your ideas for making their businesses better.

Second, key contacts for helping them extend the success of their businesses.

"Third, some measure of how much money you can make or save for their businesses.”

A couple of days after the CNN TV program, I realized it had some relevance to what I had just also learned about LinkedIn. LinkedIn can help prepare your college student with cerebral palsy (CP) for his or her upcoming job search as graduation and the school to work transition becomes closer at hand.

Your soon-to-be-job-seeker college student needs to tap social media to the fullest extent possible to show employers he or she has innovative ideas, valuable contacts and a bottom-line focus. Let me explain why I believe that is so.

Using social media appropriately is actually another way to extend one's education. It's an avenue for lifelong learning and networking.

Jack Chapman, founder of Lucrative Careers, Inc. hosted a January 13, 2011, webinar presentation by Jason Alba, CEO of JibberJobber.com (“Your Personal Relationship Manager”) and author ofI’m on LinkedIn - Now What???

In setting the stage for Alba’s remarks, Chapman, who has personally assisted more than 2,000 individuals, one-on-one, in improving their careers, pointed out this paradox:

Today’s “published” job market has 33 percent of all available jobs and 100 percent of job seekers, but the “hidden” job market has 66 percent of all jobs but just five percent of job seekers.

During a recession, that hidden job market is even more pronounced because employers with open jobs don’t always publish them. They don’t want to deal with hundreds of applicants, Chapman points out.

To tap the hidden job market, your college student needs to network -- to connect with the right person for the right job at the right time, according to Alba.

And, the various social media are godsends for soon-to-be-job seekers with cerebral palsy because they make networking much easier and time efficient.

Here are the online tools Alba uses to navigate the hidden job market:

  1. Blogs
  2. Twitter
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Facebook
  5. Article submissions to blogs and ezines
  6. Newsletters

He repurposes his content for each of these tools and then cross promotes in the various social media. But, he uses LinkedIn as his focal point and emphasizes that effectively working with its Profile, Questions/Answers, Groups, Companies and Advanced People Search functions is crucial in a job search.

The following is a summary of the steps Alba recommends soon-to-be job seekers take for each of those LinkedIn features.

Profile

Write your profile so the right people can find you and you come across as credible. Use all of the 2,000 characters available in writing your summary and include your key words in your title. The trick is to find and be found.

Make your headline brief. And then explain, perhaps using this formula: “I help people to -------- by -----------.” Don’t use jargon.

Spend your time on LinkedIn to share ideas, grow your contacts and nurture relationships. Your goal is to move people from your LinkedIn Profile to LinkedIn Answers so you can build individual relationships and help one another.

Use very short stories (in terms of “problem,” “action,” “result”) to illustrate your key success factors in your profile summary. Try to include up to four stories and quantify each.

Go to my LinkedIn profile to see how I’ve tried to follow these recommendations in my own personal profile.

Questions/Answers

Develop 12 key questions which relate to your work (or job search) and submit one each month, if you have at least 200 contacts. If you seek to be an online marketer, for instance, you might ask:

  • What do you think are going to be biggest challenges in online marketing this year?

  • What are your three most pressing problems as an online marketer right now?

  • I’m writing an article about ---------. What do you think?

Since you’re limited to sending a question to 200 people at one time, rotate your question submissions this way if you more than 200:

  • 400 contacts - submit questions twice a month.

  • 800 contacts - submit questions four times a month (200 each on a rotating basis).

When you submit questions, leave all four boxes (options) unchecked.

Important: Be sure your question is sent to each person’s e-mail inbox. Don’t send yourself a copy of the e-mail. Select 199 people to e-mail to so you are sure you'll come under the 200 cap.

When you receive an answer to your question, contact that person and say, “thank you” -- and offer to get into contact by phone. Remember, people need to encounter your answers at least seven times before they’ll begin to recognize you on LinkedIn.

Write short answers to questions you find that relate to your job search, giving a gist of what you think. You don’t have to go into lengthy detail.

Groups

Join 50 groups, up to your limit, so you can send and receive messages with each of the group’s members. Join groups specifically developed for individuals who would be your boss in the type of job you’re searching for. It’s OK to join a group so you can obtain the contact information for a specific person. After you have the contact info, you can quit the group.

Ask questions on a routine basis (such as weekly) within each group, using the same material you use for Questions. Use the “announcement” function and send your questions via e-mail. Your questions need to be relevant to the group.

Select the option in each group for “Don’t get messages.”

Start a group of your own only if you have the time to do so.

Companies

Check “new hires” and look for your peers for networking possibilities. Send “congrats” to those new hires and offer to share information.

Also check “new titles” and “departures.” Find talking points, using relevant information, and start networking. Ask about the corporate culture (especially as I relates to employees with disabilities) to see if it has the right fit for you.

Always have three companies that you’re targeting as potential employers. So, as you network, you can say, “I’m looking for somebody to talk to in (company).”

Advanced People Search

Search for individuals in the “title” box, targeting people at the level who would be your boss, for potential informational interviews.

Use “send a message” and write, “I would love to talk to you about ----------. Here’s my phone and e-mail.”

All of these networking possibilities are at your college student’s finger tips, and that levels portions of the recruiting playing field, making CP irrelevant in many cases.

The focus is then back where it needs to be: What does your soon-to-be job seeker offer a potential employer in terms of creative ideas, mover-and-shaker contacts and bottom-line results?

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