This is the fifteenth in a series of blogs supporting the College to Career Calendar available for downloading at Today’s blog discusses strategies for using LinkedIn to gather information about your target companies.

If you are not on LinkedIn, this is the time to start your account. We have created a free step by step tip sheet that you might find helpful. LinkedIn for New Grads

LinkedIn is an invaluable resource during the transition from college to career and throughout your professional life. As you work through this week’s assignment you will be developing skills you can use in future job searches, interview preparation, and career advancements.

Pull out the list of target companies you developed last week. Do the following for each company on your list:

Enter the company name in the search option on your LinkedIn home page. You should get a list that includes the profiles of current and past employees and perhaps a company LinkedIn page and job listings.

Identify current employees working in positions similar to the type you are seeking. Read their summaries, experience, and educational background to get an idea of the type of candidate the company hires. Ask to join their network by clicking the “connect” button on the employee’s profile.

Open the profiles of past employees who had similar jobs to the one you are seeking. Identify the companies where they now work. Is this a company you should add to your list?

Read the LinkedIn profile of the person who would be the head of the department/division responsible for the job function you are seeking. Record their name in your target company list. Ask to join their network by clicking the “connect” button on the employee’s profile.

Open the company’s LinkedIn profile if there is one. Read about the company and indicate you want to follow it by clicking the “follow” button. If the company has an active LinkedIn profile you will get notifications of announcements and product releases.

If there are jobs listed, even if they are not in your field; take a quick look to see how applications are handled. If there is a job in your field listed read the requirements and consider applying.

Viewing job descriptions and following a company happens as soon as you click on those options.

Connecting with people can be more challenging. Depending on how the person you want to connect with has set up their account your invitation will go through automatically or you may need to take additional steps.

A screen may appear that asks you how you know the person and for their email address. Check their profile to see if they have listed their email address. An internet search can sometimes provide an email address. If that does not work, the other options are to ask for an introduction from a mutual contact. On the profile of the person you want to connect with you will see a column on the right that shows mutual contacts and an option to ask for an introduction.

Several of the methods for connecting allow you to send a personal message in place of the automatic message LinkedIn sends. Craft a note stating you are beginning your job search and their company is one you want to learn more about.

However you connect, once accepted thank the person for joining your network.

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