Career Tips for International Students

Finding Target Professionals on LinkedIn

LinkedIn networking tips

Dear Coach Kwan,

I just finished my finals and woohoo… I officially graduated! Now, I am trying to be more proactive about my job search. I understand that LinkedIn is a great tool to use for online networking, but how exactly do I go about searching for specific professionals that I should contact?


A motivated, energized and ready-to-connect international student

Congratulations on graduating! This is a huge accomplishment!

I am very happy to see you are being proactive about your job search as it is truly the key for international students to land their dream job.

It is definitely not enough to merely rely on online job applications to progress through the hiring process.

Networking and career branding are the two essential skills that all international students should master in order to become highly desirable job candidates. Once you have polished your networking skills and have clearly defined your career brand, you need to let the world know about you!

LinkedIn is an amazing resource as it is full of professionals from every industry and with all kinds of careers. You need to tap into this resource: find the right people who can guide you the right way.

When to find target professionals on LinkedIn:

Once you have identified your target job and target industry, and you can brand yourself as an expert in the field rather than just a job seeker (we teach you all that on our Talent platform), it is time for you to take matters in your own hands and be more proactive.

Here are three different scenarios of when to use LinkedIn to find professionals and increase your chances of landing a job:

1. You are at the interviewing step of the hiring process

The best way to prepare for an interview would be to speak to someone who works at that company, preferably working in your team. During the interview, the hiring manager will not only be looking for someone who has the right skill set, but also someone who fits in with the company culture. Who best to inquire about company culture than someone who is currently living it?

An informational interview will definitely be helpful, and it will certainly give you an edge as a candidate. Furthermore, LinkedIn makes it so easy to find the right people! There are three types of people you could potentially reach out to:

  1. People you have mutual connections with
  2. People you have met once before
  3. Unknown people in the same industry

Naturally, it is easiest to approach someone you have common ground with. If you have a mutual connection, you can break the ice by bringing that person up, or if you have met them before, you can talk about that time you had seen each other. However, even if you have no common ground with this person, since you are a potential coworker, you are not a complete stranger. Send them a friendly message explaining your situation and the reason why you are contacting them, and there is no reason for you to feel awkward at all.

2. You want to be the first to know about open positions

Trying to expand your network? Use LinkedIn search filter tool to find professionals in your field that are active on LinkedIn. In-person networking is the best resource, but it is limited by location, time, and opportunity. By using LinkedIn as a networking tool, you can reach out to anyone, anywhere and at anytime.

For example, if there is a company that you really like, you can visit their LinkedIn page and look at the list of employees. Within that list, you can narrow your search to someone in a specific team or a specific role. Connect with people working in the team that you would potentially want to join, and position yourself as an attractive hire, regardless of whether there is an online job posting or not.

Job posting takes some time after there is a need for a new position. Imagine knowing about a job opportunity before it is even posted online because you have an insider – how great is that! Not only is it great to have an insider that serves as a referral, but when you use this channel, you have less competition, since only a limited number of people will even know about this role in the first place.

The only way to find this hidden job market is by knowing the right people at the right place, so step up your networking game and start using LinkedIn!

3. You applied online and want to make sure that recruiters see your resume

Applied online for a job and have not heard back yet? Reach out to the recruiter on LinkedIn in order to stand out from the large pile of online applicants!

There is absolutely no reason for you to just sit and wait. Plenty of international students that I coached in the past successfully landed their dream jobs by using a “hybrid” approach to applying for jobs: online applications and also reaching out directly. If you have top-notch networking skills and a clear career brand, it will increase your chances of making it to the next step of the application process, and later on, a job offer!

Continue being proactive about your job search, I am rooting for you!

Sign up for the ICAway Talent Platform to get an effective job search strategy to help you land your dream job!

Listen to Silvia and learn what happened after her LinkedIn profile was optimized!

About Coach Kwan

Kwan is an experienced human-capital consultant. Her past corporate experience includes global organizations like Deloitte, Accenture, and BMW. Kwan moved to the U.S. in 2014, earned her Senior Professional HR certification from HRIC. She joined one of the world’s most prestigious consulting firms as a Senior Consultant of Human Capital Consulting Practice and managed multiple projects for Fortune 500 clients.

Today, Kwan is the CEO and Founder of ICAway, an educational consulting firm based out of Chicago. Our mission is to be an empowering community for international students and light the way for students to find jobs in the U.S.