When New England Patriots fullback Dan Vitale announced to the world that he was retiring from pro football and looking for a job, he didn’t hold a press conference or tweet about it. He posted it on LinkedIn.
The former fullback has a bachelor’s of economics from Northwestern University and indicated on the website an interest in “private wealth manager, private investor, private equity analyst, hedge fund manager” jobs. As his fans place on bets on where he ends up, career advisers are debating whether posting a clarion call on LinkedIn was the most effective move.
Was it? The short answer is yes, especially for celebrities with large followings, but also for everyday workers.
Nadia Ibrahim-Taney, career coach at the University of Cincinnati and owner of Beyond Discovery Coaching, says that while Vitale is much better known than most people and likely more connected on LinkedIn, there’s a bit of serendipity mixed in too. By (get ready for a football term!) going long, he’s allowing more people to find out he’s hunting for his next opportunity, which Ibrahim-Taney says is extra important for Vitale because he is looking to change careers.
“Making your intentions known to as many people as possible is always a good thing,” she explains. “You never know what kind of organic reach that will have.”
Another advantage for Vitale, other than the attention he garnered for opting for the LinkedIn route, is the message he’s telegraphing to potential bosses.
“It’s a brilliant public relations move, because it signifies ‘I’m just like you. I’m not going to pull rank because I’m a big NFL star. I’m playing on your field, financial-world people,'” points out Lindsey Pollak, author of Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work.
What about for the non-celebrities?
Vitale used the hashtag #OpenToWork in his announcement and Los Angeles-based career coach Elizabeth Koraca suggests everyone do the same thing when they’re looking for their next job. It alerts not only people in your network but also recruiters who are hunting for talent to fill openings.
“There’s more eyeballs on you,” Koraca says. “There’s more people seeing your profile, looking at your skills. It’s kind of a numbers game. The more people know you’re looking, the more people who can help.”
What’s the smartest thing to do when you’re launching a job hunt?
In a word: communicate. Don’t limit yourself, and instead, sound a clarion call. The actions are the same as they were decades ago.
“Tell everyone everywhere. Pre-social media, you’d run into a friend at your kid’s soccer game, you’d go to professional events, you’d email former colleagues, you’d use different approaches for different communities,” Pollak says, adding that you need to change your tone on social media, depending where you’re announcing your career shift—just as you’d talk one way at the youth soccer match and another at an industry mixer. “Alter your message. On Facebook, ‘Hey, I’m looking for a job.’ On LinkedIn, you can be more professional.”
What’s the best way to spread the word?
Ibrahim-Taney is a fan of LinkedIn, but also advocates for using Facebook, Instagram, and Clubhouse: “Don’t ever commit to one strategy. Diversify. Try a little bit of everything and do more of that. Whatever isn’t [working], leave it on the table.”
For Koraca, the key is the strategizing that comes before you take any action. She advises making a list of people who could potentially help you—a mentor, former coworkers, friends, relatives, people who know you, your work ethic, and your skills—and then reach out to them. If you can afford one, hire a career coach. And create a schedule to add to your calendar of how many people you’re going to reach out to each week and how many meetings you’ll arrange.