Before you start applying for jobs, it helps to know as much as possible about the types of jobs that will best fit your skills, and to get the broadest-possible frame for how many ways you might develop your career. Happily, LinkedIn has been developing a terrific tool to help you do just that.
It’s called the “Skills & Expertise” section, and you can find it by clicking on the “More” tab at the far right end of the LinkedIn tabs shown across the top of the page. This will bring up a selection of options; you want to click on the one that says “Skills.”
This will bring up a page with a Search box where you can enter the career title or skill or keyword you’re interested in, and then all sorts of cool stuff will be presented for you to explore. For example, you’ll see information about:
Career description. In the center top of the page, there’s a description of that role, and the primary industry of which it’s a part (keep in mind, however, that these career profiles/descriptions are taken from Wikipedia, so some of them are right on target while others, shall we say, miss the mark?). In the description box, there’s also a small arrow pointing up or down with a number; this indicates the amount of growth (or contraction) going on in that career.
Related skills. To the left of the description is a list of “Related Skills” that like the career description, are a bit diverse in how on-target they are (for example, a search on libraries brings up baths, closets, and model homes as related skills in addition to other very relevant terms). Essentially, this section generally pulls up other careers that use skills similar to the ones in your search term, so you can see a potentially broader universe of opportunities for your skills.
LinkedIn members whose jobs include your search term. Doing a search on the term nursing, for example, brings up a list of “Nursing Professionals” on LinkedIn, so you can check out their profiles, where they work, what their career track has looked like, and what keywords they use to describe themselves and their work (to help you determine what keywords you want to use in your profile and search on for additional career info). You’ll also be able to see if anyone you know or are connected to through LinkedIn shows up in this list (LinkedIn will point them out for you).
The relative growth of this career path. Located at the top of the search-results page is a box that provides information about what aspects of the profession are growing or contracting. In the results for nursing, for example, two areas of better-than-average growth are midwifery and nurse practitioners.
Major employers in this field. Under a section title “Related Companies” (right-hand side of the search-results page), you’ll find a list of the major employers in your area of interest. Click on their name, and you’ll be taken to their company page, where you can explore more about them, their career opportunities, and job openings.
LinkedIn groups related to this career path. Most major professional associations now have LinkedIn groups where people can exchange information, talk about trends and issues, and connect with others in their field. Under “Nursing Groups” (lower left side of the page) you’ll find four groups: American Organization of Nurse Executives (3,837 members), Nursing Network (7,449 members), The R.N. Network (6,337 members), and the American Nurses Association (4,515 members). This section tells you a bit about the LinkedIn group then provides a “Join” button so you can join the group. Why join groups like these? To learn more about what people in this career do, where they work, what their concerns are, and reach out to them to start building your professional network.
Job listings. You may not be ready to apply for jobs yet, but there’s still great value in reading about various job descriptions in your potential career path. You have a chance to see what skills are expected, what aspects of the work are likely to appeal to you (or not), what employers look like they offer the best/most interesting opportunities, and what keywords seem to be used most commonly, so you can be sure you have these in your LinkedIn profile.
If you’re just starting your career, the LinkedIn “Skills & Expertise” section provides a great place from which to launch your career-exploration efforts, both in what potential job opportunities might look like, and who might be able to help you go after some of those opportunities when you’re ready to do so. If you’re already well into your career, this section can help you decide how to keep growing in your existing area, or learn more in preparation for a career change.
About the Author
Acclaimed Career Coach, Kim Dority is a frequent presenter for Bryant & Stratton College Online. Dority is an information specialist, consultant, career coach, published author and adjunct professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. She has written extensively on career development for students and new graduates and is a frequent presenter, lecturer and panelist on career-related topics. Kim’s areas of expertise include professional branding, career transitions and career sustainability.