LinkedIn is more than a digital home for your résumé and a place to learn that your high school nemesis has recently celebrated his work anniversary: According to Clark Valberg, cofounder and CEO of the design collaboration platform InVision, it can also be a powerful tool for navigating the path to your dream job.
“People, especially overachievers, have the terrible habit of underestimating their own abilities, and overestimate the abilities of everyone else,” Valberg tells Business Insider. “Because of that, they become star-struck by the super successful people in their field who seem far beyond their own perceived potential — but in reality, that’s very far from the truth.”
That’s where LinkedIn comes in. By tracing the career paths of those super successful people, you can see how they got where they are. And reassuringly, it’s usually not by magic — it’s by “hard work, smart career choices, and a true understanding their own value in the professional landscape,” he says. In this one case, at least, a networking site can actually make you feel better — and help you formulate a plan.
When you’re at a career crossroads, whether you’re having a crisis of confidence or a crisis of direction, Valberg recommends this exercise to get inspired, get motivated, and maybe even get a mentor.
“Pick five people that you think have really cool jobs,” he advises. These are people who are doing what you wish you were doing, but aren’t — yet.
Go to their LinkedIn pages, and trace back their career paths backwards. Maybe they’re founder and CEO of their own successful startup now, but what were they doing before that? What about before that? “Think about the experience each previous position may have given them, how their experience and skills transferred value to their subsequent role, and how these transitions contributed to their career path as a whole,” Valberg says.
Ideally, this will broaden your vision of what you could be doing to get where you want to go. Seek out and apply for what he calls “lookalike” roles — jobs similar to the ones some of your role models had when they were at your experience level.
- Newly inspired, “write an email to each of the five and let them know the insight you gained from observing their background.” It is not, he promises, as intimidating as it sounds. “More will write you back than you think, and you may even gain a mentor,” he says.
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