If you’re a member of LinkedIn, have you noticed the (fairly) new alumni search they’ve introduced?
It’s a way of getting an overview, by university, of where alumni are now (although obviously, it only includes those on LinkedIn who have included their university in their profile). That gives you the impression that you have to be an alumnus of the university you’re searching for, but in practice, it looks like you can filter on any university you wish.
As well as searching by university, the standard filters it offers are:
- the years they attended that university – this means you can filter out all those with bags of experience, and look at more recent graduates, if that’s helpful
- location – for example, for the University of Manchester, there are 73,097 alumni on LinkedIn living in the United Kingdom, of which 15,049 are living in London and 10,676 are living in Manchester
- where they work – unsurprisingly, 1,754 alumni from the University of Manchester “work” there – but that includes all our current students who have been smart enough to register on LinkedIn, as well as those of us who get paid to be here! A more useful search, for example, shows that there are 144 alumni of the University of Manchester on LinkedIn who work for Microsoft, only 44 of whom live in the USA.
- what they do – this seems the least useful filter, as it only shows a limited number of categories. You can use the search function within the filter but it rejected most of the categories I tried. Oddly, it will let you filter on “Real Estate”, but not education or any permutation on scientist, so I assume it has lumped a large number of jobs into “Administrative”.
Rather than using the “What they do …” filter, I had more luck by using the search box below the filters. “Scientist” then came up with over 2000 University of Manchester alumni, though it looks like that included any mention of “scientist” in their profile, not just their current role.
As well as overall numbers, you also get links to the profiles which match your filters. However, as with everything else on LinkedIn, you only get to see limited information on the people who come up in the search if you’re not already connected to them in some way. This is another good reason to start connecting with people you know (the best reason is below *).
Where you can see profile information, it’s a good way of seeing how they got into the job/location/employer which is of interest to you. This could give you clues as to how to start your career and where it could then lead.
Be warned though, this is not meant as a way of stalking and harassing complete strangers who just happened to go to the same university as you. You still can’t randomly spam people whose profiles pop up, asking them for help with your career.
However, the more genuine connections you have on LinkedIn and the more groups you join, the more chance there is that you’ll find someone who’s a connection of a connection who might be able to give you some advice. Then, you need to approach your mutual connection and ask if they will pass your request on to their contact.
That’s the reason I always advise only connecting with people you know well, and why I ignore all those messages from total strangers who want to “add me to their professional network”. (I also don’t rate highly anyone who just sends that standard automatically generated message, even if I do know them – always personalise your connection requests.)
Have fun filtering – if nothing else, it’s a really good procrastination tool.
* The best reason for postgrads to start connecting right now with people you know on LinkedIn
Lots of students tell me they don’t know anyone to connect with on LinkedIn. What they mean is they don’t know anyone in a position of power who can help their career today. This might be the case, but they do know their fellow students. Postgrads also have friends from their undergraduate degree.
Link to your friends now, while the connection’s still current.
They may not be in a position to offer you a job right now, but imagine what your network will be like in as little as 5 years time. Those friends will be working in companies and universities all over the world, with contacts of their own. Think of LinkedIn as an investment for your future – a bit like your degree, but at considerably lower cost to yourself!