Ask the Headhunter: How to use LinkedIn to network the old fashioned way

Photo by Flickr user Mark Bult.

Using LinkedIn to find a job doesn’t have to mean paying extra for “premium” services. Headhunter Nick Corcodilos highlights how one reader seized on LinkedIn’s social networking technology to network the old fashioned way. Photo by Flickr user Mark Bult.

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

After long denying that it’s a job board, LinkedIn recently announced that it is indeed a job board — and now it is competing on the level of job aggregators like and The only thing that matters to me is what it means to you. Is LinkedIn helping you make the contacts you need to get a job?

I think the answer lies in a comment from reader Tracy O’Neill about last year’s column, “Ask The Headhunter: Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?”

Tracy shows us how to use LinkedIn to find jobs for free.

Reader Tracy O’Neill: This is a very informative article. I haven’t looked for a “job” in over 15 years. Times have changed in the job search area. I’m sure you’ve heard this a hundred times or more, but I wanted to comment on the LinkedIn process.

Since I have started to explore other potential opportunities, I have applied for one job through the LinkedIn network. I was rather surprised that I cannot follow up with the job poster unless I pay for the “premium services.”

I came across a really great job posting written with incredible humor. I’m not interested in the job, but I am interested in the person who posted it. When I tried to “connect” with this person, I could not because I don’t know her — but I could pay the $29.95 and e-mail her. I thought this site was about networking. I found her through her company website and contacted her there, but I’m amazed at how impersonal the job search has become.

Thanks again for the article.

Nick Corcodilos: Thanks for your kind note. The job search process has not changed – it’s still highly personal. Between 40 and 70 percent of jobs are found and filled through personal contacts.

What’s changed is the career rackets, and LinkedIn is now the biggest among them. LinkedIn promotes “networking,” but it uses job postings and positioning to sell premium memberships. I have no problem with LinkedIn charging for premium services, but LinkedIn spent years pretending to be free to build its massive database of your personal information.

Now it promotes its new aggregation of jobs from job boards and employers’ own applicant tracking systems — with interesting results.

Users like Tracy are getting the information they need from LinkedIn and doing the smart thing: researching the names they find on LinkedIn, but using Google to track people down and connect for free. I think that’s smart. Rather than letting her communication get lost amidst all the spam that LinkedIn sends to users, Tracy has raised her standard. She’s communicating directly.

What does this mean for LinkedIn? I really don’t care. I only care that smart readers like Tracy are not wasting their time, and that they are creating their own networks, wisely using the best Internet tools for each action they need to take. (See “Getting In The Door.”)

As Tracy has found, it’s easy to subvert LinkedIn’s marketing ploys by using the database to identify people, then track them down in other ways that don’t involve LinkedIn. This is not for the lazy – but job searching never has been.

“Career” companies have convinced most people that job searching is simple, automated, easy, and requires no real involvement – “the algorithms will take care of it” if you’ll just fork over your money. Then it’s on to the next sucker.

Tracy has figured it out. She got to the person she wanted to reach. Tracy wasn’t even interested in the job posted. She did something far more important: she chose a new friend to meet. And that’s where jobs come from. That’s real networking. (See “How to get into a company that’s not hiring.”)

So, don’t be distracted by LinkedIn offering you premium services for more money. Make your personal contacts and develop your network the old fashioned way – by investing yourself in it. The rest is free.

Thanks to Tracy for sharing her experience. Now I’d like to ask our dear readers, how do you use LinkedIn and all the other tools online to get directly to the person you want to talk to?

Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “How Can I Change Careers?”, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

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