By Daniel Savage, Head of Military and Veterans Programs at LinkedIn
More than simply a place to put your profile online and apply for jobs, LinkedIn is a broad ecosystem of tools to help you realize your professional goals.
Military spouses can now apply for a free yearlong upgrade to LinkedIn Premium through the Department of Defense’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program during every PCS and again upon leaving service. The upgrade includes access to the 12,000 professional courses on LinkedIn Learning.
Here’s how to make the most of the opportunity:
1. Get started early and let your settings work for you.
Just found out about your next move? The first thing you should do is go into your career preferences to 1) change your location preferences and 2) select that you’re “open to new opportunities.” This will ensure you receive recommendations for opportunities in your new location and appear in the searches of recruiters in the area.
Search the internet for a list of leading employers in the region and what industries and roles are in high demand. Don’t forget to check LinkedIn’s Workforce Report to see if your area is included.
Company pages on LinkedIn will have a curated list of jobs that will be relevant to you and provide insight into corporate culture. Follow the company pages of every company you may want to work for someday. You’ll start getting their content in your news feed so you can learn what they’re up to but also – perhaps equally as important – when they’re looking for talent with your qualifications. We flag that you’re interested in their work, which makes you a more attractive and proactive candidate.
2. Leverage the power of our network to learn before you apply.
Use our advanced search tools to find people who work at each company or alumni associated with any schools you have attended to find members in that area, in those companies and in the roles you want to pursue. Explore dozens of profiles to see if you can identify any trends in their background and things you may have in common.
Use the InMail credits you get with LinkedIn Premium to reach out and schedule informational interviews to learn more about how they got where they are, share your story and ask for advice. At the end of the conversation, ask if there is anyone else they think you should speak to. Keep running this cycle over and over until you’ve homed in on the opportunity to pursue which is the best fit for you.
3. Don’t waste your time applying for the wrong jobs.
When you look at a job with LinkedIn Premium, you get what we call “competitive intelligence about other applicants.” This is where it’s extremely important for your profile to be thorough – the more detailed picture of yourself that you paint for us, the better we’ll be at assessing your fit and recommending opportunities.
We’ll tell you the most commonly held skills among other applicants and compare that to what you’ve listed. You can use this to 1) make sure you haven’t left any critical skills out of your profile and 2) identify skills gaps. Pair this information with what you learn in your informational interviews so you only apply to jobs for which you’re reasonably competitive.
4. Use LinkedIn Learning to upgrade your skill set.
LinkedIn learning will have a course on nearly any hard or soft skill you may need – you’ll likely find dozens you’ll want to watch.
Even if you are years away from applying for that target job, when you see a skill that other applicants have and you lack, you can head over to LinkedIn Learning to so you will be ready when the times comes. The longer lead time you give yourself to fill knowledge gaps, the better.
We’ve even got a learning pathway specific to military spouses to help you through this process of searching for jobs online, conducting informational interviews, finding remote work, freelancing and even leaving a job effectively when you need to move again.
5. Harness the power of the community!
If there’s one defining element of the military community, it’s that we look after one another. While I’ve described LinkedIn product features, the most valuable component of our platform is you!
Join groups like DOD’s military spouse group, ask for advice and support others during career transitions. By following the right people and pages, you can use your news feed to learn about and share the best resources with other military spouses and help them connect to opportunity.
Finally, please check out LinkedIn’s portal of resources for military spouses at linkedin.com/military, follow LinkedIn’s corporate blog for regular updates, tips, and tricks, and check out the LinkedIn Learning blog to keep tabs on the latest new courses.