When I decided I wanted to transition from a career in Sales to a career in Human Resources, I knew I had a long journey ahead of me. I’d have to figure out what companies I wanted to work for and what skills would get me closer to my goal role. I also had to think about my career progression once I was made the transition.
Interviewers often ask “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Since I wasn’t gonna say “Working for another company,” I used LinkedIn to research what the possibilities would be within an organization and what skills and responsibilities it would take to get there. LinkedIn became my career consultant.
I’ve talked about LinkedIn before, but in more general terms. Yes, it’s great for a myriad of things, but one of the most beneficial aspects of the site is that it gives you the opportunity to map your career with different organizations. Let me elaborate. In early 2011, I applied for a few entry level jobs with corporate juggernauts. The great thing about big companies is that they usually have clearly defined paths; the same with government organizations. Jobs will be assigned levels like Analyst, Associate and Senior Associate or given titles like Generalist I, Generalist II and so on.
For each company with entry level opportunities, I’d use LinkedIn to search for employees that had the same title as the role I was applying for. From that, I could see their previous experience and if they progressed further in the organization. If they did, I could see what roles they moved into, which gave me an idea of what a potential career path would look like. This helped prepare me for the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question. It’d be evident that I did my research and that I’d given thought to my potential future with the organization. It also allowed me to tailor my resume toward the same skills and responsibilities that current employees had. For a hiring manager, that means less training on the basics and more time focused on helping the company reach its goals. That’s a win for everyone.
If you’re looking at making a career transition, try using LinkedIn as your career consultant. It won’t coach you out of bed, but you can use its expertise from wherever you are. The beginning of your transition is just a few clicks away.