How LinkedIn Company Pages Can Help Your Job Search

April 5, 2012

According to a recent LinkedIn poll, the single biggest job interview mistake people make is not knowing enough about the company to which they're applying. With all of the research tools available on the Internet and elsewhere, it is now easier than ever to avoid this mistake. You should always visit a potential employer's own website first. Then, for additional information and up-to-the-minute insight, proceed directly to LinkedIn Company Pages.

LinkedIn Company Page is a centralized location to learn about a company's operations, current news, products and services, employees, job opportunities and more. There are over two million company pages on LinkedIn, spanning a vast number of industries, company sizes and geographic locations. Where does all of the information on a Company Page come from? The organization itself provides a portion -- the company overview, Careers page and Products and Services descriptions.

The rest of a Page's information, including the company statistics and employee information, are based on LinkedIn's own network data. This means that on a Company Page you're getting more information about the backgrounds and career paths of the people who work for that organization. As a potential job seeker, this information provides a guide on what it takes to get hired and succeed at that particular company. For instance, you can learn what universities a company's employees attended (including who graduated from your own alma mater), what types of employees are receiving promotions and what LinkedIn groups those employees belong to.

As you'll see below, all of this information can help you better craft your LinkedIn profile to attract the attention of recruiters for that company and it can help you find potential referrals into that organization. To make the most of Company Pages as a job seeker, begin your research on the Search Companies page and follow these easy steps:

1. Find companies that are hiring right now. First, search for every company on your prospect list. Begin following these companies to stay up-to-date on job opportunities, company news and industry trends. All company status updates will appear on your LinkedIn homepage, so you'll never miss a new opportunity. You can find additional prospects by using the search facets on the left side of the Search Companies page. You can search for companies based on location, industry, size, whether they are currently hiring (over 22,300 are hiring on LinkedIn right now!) and how you are connected to that organization. I love this last search option most of all. You can filter a set of results to include only those companies that are hiring AND those where you have 1st or 2nd degree connections. It's always easier to get a job at an organization where you have support from an existing employee or where a friend can make a personal referral.

2. Make the most of informational interviews. How do you turn those 1st and 2nd degree connections into opportunities? The best approach is to reach out to request informational interviews from people who work for the companies where you'd like a job. (You can do this directly with your 1st degree connections or through an introduction request for 2nd degree connections.) Write a brief note that says something like this: "I'm very interested in a potential opportunity at XYZ Company and saw that you currently work there. Would you be willing to chat with me for 15 minutes or so and share your experience at the organization? I would be so grateful for your time."

Most people, particularly if they know you personally or are introduced to you through a trusted contact, will be happy to answer a few questions or share some advice. The trick is to impress them when you're on that informational call. So, before you speak to anyone for an informational interview, spend at least 30 minutes on that organization's Company Page to learn about its products, services and current news. The Overview tab of the Page will provide a summary of the company, its recent status updates (the news that company wants its LinkedIn followers to know) and available job opportunities. (The Overview also provides additional insight into how you are connected to employees at the company through your LinkedIn network and university alumni network, which is great for finding even more people to ask for informational interviews.)

Many companies also have "Careers" tabs on their LinkedIn page, where they share more information about working for their organization, such as videos, employee testimonials, awards and recognitions. Review this information thoroughly so you can ask very specific questions during your informational interviews. For instance, "I read about your company's new environmental initiative -- can you tell me more about how that is working?" is a much more impressive question than, "So, what does your company do?" The more you impress your connection, the more likely he or she is to recommend you for an open job.

3. Learn what it takes to succeed. In addition to helping you prepare for informational interviews (and real job interviews later on), Company Pages can also help you improve your LinkedIn profile so that a recruiter is more likely to notice it. Click on the "Check out insightful statistics" link on a Company Page to find helpful intelligence about what an organization looks for in its employees. For example, you can learn what job functions and educational degrees are most common, and you can view the 10 most common skills listed by employees at that company (which are great keywords to include in your own profile, as long as they're accurate). And, you can view the LinkedIn profiles of people at that company with new titles -- which includes people who've just been hired or just been promoted. This means you can study the profiles of the exact people who succeed at that organization. Take note of how they describe themselves in their profile headlines and summary statements, what experience they list, what groups they belong to and what their recommendations say about them. These are all tips for what to include on your own profile to attract the attention of recruiters from that organization.

4. Make a good impression. Don't be shy about reaching out to a company based on what you've learned from its Company Page, even if you don't have any 1st or 2nd degree connections. You can comment on a company's status update in a way that shows you are interested in their news and educated about industry developments. For instance, you can respond to an update about a company's new product by mentioning that you recently read a positive review of it. Or, if you see on a Company Page that a person has recently been promoted who is in your alumni network or shares a LinkedIn Group with you, reach out and say congratulations. You can use the opportunity to politely mention that you are interested in working for that organization as well.

5. Expand your job search. Finally, there's one more area of a Company Page you shouldn't miss. On the "Check out insightful statistics" page, you'll find a listing of where that company's employees worked before joining that company and where employees worked after leaving that company. These are great organizations to check out as potential employers as well. Remember that you need to cast a wide net in your job search and research as many prospects as possible.

How else have you used LinkedIn's robust Company Pages to help your job search? Please share in the Comments!