The other night, my husband and I were so tired that we just wanted to watch something on TV. Somehow, we started playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon beginning from Sandra Bullock using the Netflix search menu on our Apple TV. If you are not familiar with Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, it is a game based on the idea that any individual can be linked to Kevin Bacon within six steps.
At first, the game was hard for me. But it got easier as I built my knowledge vault of actress and actors who had played in the same films with Kevin Bacon and Sandra Bullock. And then an idea came – how about applying the same principle to finding a dream career using LinkedIn?
In this case, LinkedIn would be the equivalence of my Netflix’s directory, its users would be the actors and actress, and the vast number of careers/positions on the database would be the genres of the films these actors and actress have played. So how is that supposed to help you find your dream career? Well, if you have absolutely no idea what your dream job constitutes, this game may not work for you. But if you have some idea about the work or the title of a position that you are interested, this exercise will help you clarify and narrow down the skills set and career steps you need to accumulate before reaching your dream job.
To play, you first need to have a LinkedIn profile. There are many resources out there that detail ways to build a sparkling LinkedIn profile, so I won’t discuss that here. Once you have a profile set up, you can do a search either by “Company” (if you have a particular company you want to work for) or by “People” (if you have a position/title in mind). For the latter, you can filter your results by industry (e.g. biotechnology), the degree of connections within your network, and even by particular companies.
Search by Company: when you search by company, say Genentech as an example, LinkedIn displays your search on the top followed by a list of similar companies. When you click on a company, your results are categorized into “Your Connections Within Your Network”, “Your College Alumni” and “New Hires”. Connections within your immediate network is a great place to look for someone who may hold a position similar to what you look for and see the kind of work he/she does. The bonus is that you already know him/her or can be introduced via your connections.
The interesting category is the “New Hires” where you can see each newly hired person’s career path even if you are not connected. It also means that his/her last position is now open which might just be something you are looking for. Another useful data set is the “Check out insightful statistics about Genentech employees” on the right column of the page (Figure 1). Click on it, you will see a list of companies for which your Genentech connections have worked before and after Genentech (Figure 2). These statistics give you an idea of where else you might also consider working.
Search by People: you can do a search by “people” by typing in a position, narrow your search by biotechnology industry. The result is a list of people who are currently or have been in this position. This is a gold mine since you can read about their career paths and things that they have achieved in each position, and then ask yourself if these are tasks you really want to do. If so, what are the skills and positions you need to go through before getting there. Can you even bypass some of the positions to limit yourself to six degrees (or less) of separation to your dream position?
Zero connections? What if you don’t have any connections for any of these positions? No worries, you can join a group that represents your industry’s interest. Some groups are open to everyone while some are selective. Once you have joined a group, you can view the profiles of the group members.
I hope you find these exercise fun and useful to your learning about the skills required and career steps necessary to your dream job. In closing, I will leave you with Green Day’s Time of Your Life. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or ask me questions about a specific area of my experience. Until next post, keep on searching.