First things first.

Don’t forget the final key takeawaystart using LinkedIn.


No time to waste…

I get it.

As an academic, you’re pretty busy juggling multiple tasks from experimenting to teaching, sleeping (eventually) and writing detailed scientific reports. Twenty-four hours a day doesn’t seem enough to squeeze in all of these activities. 

But, upon final thesis presentation, things already have to be set in motion to prepare for the next endeavour: finding THE next professional challenge—outside academia—among all those exciting opportunities out there.

Being an active user of LinkedIn will help you in that transition.

I wasn’t so certain back in the day. I, myself, strongly fantasized that an HR manager who got wind of my scientific work would walk into the lab with a job offer in hand, for my eyes only. 

So disappointed—and naive—I was

Some will say that delving into LinkedIn takes time away from your already busy agenda. But if you are re-orienting some Candy Crush (I am feeling old for this reference now) or another Netflix binge-watching timeslot to this crucial game, it will certainly be worth the effort in the long run.

Disclaimer: Don’t panic!

University officials or your PhD advisor won’t hunt you down if you start becoming more active online, or making some tweaks to your LinkedIn profile—assuming you already have one set up, to begin with. 

Of course, you are considering options. 

Academia might eventually find ways to retain your talents. But that’s your job to proactively expand your professional network and explore #altac (aka ‘alternative to academia’) opportunities.

Here Are 5 Reasons To Use LinkedIn for Your Non-Academic Job Search

01. Getting Yourself Known by Recruiters

LinkedIn is the n°1 tool HR departments use on a daily basis.

Accounting for 875 million members in 200 countries and regions worldwide, one of the oldest social media platforms—yeah, LinkedIn is launched 9 months before FaceBook—brings 52 million people who search for jobs each week, with 101 job applications submitted every second.

When talent sourcing took a new global dimension post-pandemic, bringing along additional perks to the—virtual—workplace for all parties (e.g. diversity, work flexibility…), it a no-brainer that hiring managers are less likely to screen potential new hires in person, with 81% of talent professionals saying virtual recruiting will outlast COVID-19.

02. Finding Up-to-Date Information

Peeking how your connections are moving across their respective multi-layered career path? Learning regular takeaways points around a topic of interest? Or getting to know the latest business deals, acquisitions and milestones from your industry sector? 

Knowledge is power even more so outside academia. 

Everything is there on LinkedIn ready to train your brains with this crucial business-oriented information that will impress the next company you’re applying for. 

When monitoring the social network properly, you may even foresee in advance—upon the public disclosure of good quarterly or yearly results—a staff expansion before job vacancies hit the market. Even better, simply following an HR manager on LinkedIn can make you aware of a job vacancy from his/her feed days or weeks before the hiring company eventually decide to advertise across other platforms for everyone else to see. 

In both cases, you’re already beating the competition and most likely saving the company the expense of an online job advertisement product.

03. Expanding Your Network Beyond Borders

You know the drill. 

It is no longer about WHAT you know (well, still kind of); it is about WHO you know and who your network knows. 

Sure thing, hitting at least 500 connections on LinkedIn does a greatvanitydeal. By the way, upon reaching this specific milestone, the platform will display an ‘attached ‘+’, which will eventually throw a mystery around the actual number of connections you may actually have beyond that. 

Besides this aesthetic feature, the golden number will start giving you unintentional benefits. 

It may be unfair to those having lesser connections, but the first impression logic dictates that 500+ connections provide more credibility. You’ve built up an audience either through compounded online conversations, content publishing and/or in-person interactions. 

There is likely some voice worth listening to behind…

Furthermore, growing a quality audience automatically provides an increase in your LinkedIn post impression reach, coming along with a higher probability to be heard beyond borders. 

I am not saying that sounding smart online is a guarantee of being hired on the spot. But at the very least, the front door is already open, with one foot in the room, with the other party ready to discuss with you.

04. Owning Your Story and Building A Personal Brand

Ever been featured in a science news article? Or eventually in the blog section of your academic institution’s website?

First off, lucky you!

But that’s most likely all about your—professional—online presence. Indeed, as cool as ResearchGate might be for interacting with other academic peers, no public or corporate HR professional navigates near that platform. And, they won’t follow your institution’s website either—well, if it was properly done, they might get a peak more often…

And, unless fully owning a personal academic website—which I would strongly recommend, even without this being top-self quality—no suggestion tweaks can be brought on third-party platforms. You undergo the story.

On LinkedIn, you lead the story with personal branding.

In a nutshell, creating a personal brand revolves around discussing interests, showing off accomplishments, skills and knowledgeunveiling your true professional self, at your own pace. 

Companies do online branding to appear as top attractive employers. Job seekers, employees and freelancers do online branding to appear as top attractive talents. Think of Linkedin as a Tinder-like matchmaking platform for professionals—with, hopefully, less fictive characters in the mix.

05. Learning and Improving Non-Academic Language

One of the problems of academics—I was one, so I know the subject—is that they use a language that is not 100% compatible with the corporate industry. 

But communicating your value is indispensable for getting hired. 

On LinkedIn, you can grasp insights into how people with a similar profile to yours are communicating and making connections prior to and beyond the first #altac hiring milestone. Even better, getting a peak at how these academic alumni have rearranged their bullet points across their professional journey—academic or not—to make it stand out (warning: no profiles are created equal).

Similar concepts are translated into different wordings. But, all of these communication tweaks will greatly improve your job search success, online and offline.

Furthermore, you’ll realize the importance of mastering copywriting—the art of articulating a (non-technical) story that transmits emotions

Of course, you can talk about complicated science stuff all day long with other scientists in your field. But the corporate industry also dictates to be able to convey the message to other stakeholders and audiences, which do not bear the same background knowledge as yours. Yet, you still have to educate, convince and relay the information in an intelligible manner.

The Conclusion

Upon reading the above, you soon realize that all these actions are intertwined.

With personal branding, you’re increasing the network and starting to get yourself known by recruiters. But first, you have to better communicate and articulate your professional journey. To improve this task, you may retrieve useful information online from others that paved the way before you. And so on and on…

Does it need more convincing or may I remind the initial takeaway, all the way up?

Did you talk with someone at a conference? Have you been in touch with a sales representative trying to sell your lab new materials? Did you meet someone at a job fair? Did you interact with others on a scientific tour? Do you have friends or colleagues from academia who moved on to successful non-academic jobs? 

If yes, reach out and connect with them on LinkedIn—a quick introductory message will surely help. Follow me on LinkedIn as well.

Start the digital journey.