How Veterans Can Leverage LinkedIn Premium in Transition

(Nan Palmero)

Whether you have months to go until your separation date or you're already working in the civilian sector, you've likely heard of the importance of the LinkedIn social networking platform. Professional in tone (unlike the more casual, social platforms), LinkedIn is an important tool in your career toolkit.

LinkedIn offers the military community a free year of premium service to the platform. As stated on their website:

"We're offering eligible members of the U.S. military community one year of access to LinkedIn Premium -- a more robust version of a basic LinkedIn account -- to help you get noticed by recruiters, build your network, find and apply to jobs, and get support."

This is a unique and compelling offer to consider as you plan your exit from the military, or grow your post-military career.

How to Use LinkedIn Premium

1. Search Jobs

The site currently boasts 20 million open positions shared on LinkedIn, and with the premium version, you'll get unique access and search tools to cull through the openings.

How to use this feature: As you exit the military, consider learning about all the jobs that relate to the exportable skills you'll bring with you. While you may want to do work that's different from your jobs in the military, you'll get a sense of what's out there, the keywords employers use to attract candidates and which companies are actively hiring.

Be sure your LinkedIn profile supports your new career path and includes keywords and key phrases these jobs look for.

2. Connect with Non-Connections

LinkedIn's InMail feature is its version of direct messaging -- a way to message another LinkedIn member directly to whom you're not already connected. With the basic version of LinkedIn (the free account), you can only communicate with people you're connected to.

How to use this feature: Looking to connect with recruiters at your desired company? Seeking networking contacts who you have no other way to reach? With InMail, you can craft a thoughtful message and interact with them (if they reply) before being connected.

This can be particularly valuable as you look to do informational interviews about various industries, civilian companies and careers. You also can message recruiters and ask for information or clarification about specific openings. Not all recruiters and hiring managers have the time to dedicate to replying to InMails, so don't take it personally if you don't hear back.

3. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is an online library of more than 10,000 courses on topics ranging from technical to soft skills. While you can purchase access to courses on LinkedIn Learning, premium gives you access to all the content. As an instructor on LinkedIn Learning, I currently have several courses in the LinkedIn Learning library, including the popular course, Translating Your Military Skills to Civilian Workplace.

How to use this feature: If you'll be pursuing a career different from your military job, learning the language, nuances and technical skills of your new focus is valuable. Some courses on the platform even offer certifications of completion, which you can add to your profile to show employers your commitment to this new field or job.

Consider also taking soft skills training to round out your skills. You can learn about various corporate initiations, such as diversity, equity and inclusion, which may be important as you navigate the differences between military and civilian cultures.

If your military work has been primarily focused on technical training or combat-related skills, learning soft skills around communications, team building and organizational performance, for instance, can close some of your skills gaps and position you for in-demand jobs.

4. Who's Viewed Your Profile

This feature allows you to see who's viewed your profile. With the basic version of LinkedIn, you'll see the five most recent viewers in the last 90 days. With premium, you'll see a list of everyone who viewed your profile over the last 90 days, and you can also see viewer trends and insights.

Note: If someone marks their activity as hidden or "incognito," as some recruiters do, you won't see their information. Recruiters may do this to hide the fact they are interested in your background before reaching out or deciding not to pursue you.

How to use this feature: While we can't know exactly why someone looked at your background and skills, this can be helpful insight into your transition and job search.

For example, let's say you're interviewing at Raytheon for a project management job. You've sent in your background information, had a screening interview and are being referred to a hiring manager. Then you notice that several people from that department at Raytheon have viewed your profile, some more than once. This can be a great sign!


Consider the timing of when you'll want to take advantage of the free premium offer. If your transition isn't for another 24 months, and you'll be most excited to use the InMail feature to connect with employers, you might want to wait until you're closer to separation before activating this version.

If you know you'll be working in a completely unrelated field to your military jobs, then having several months to learn new skills, language and techniques on the LinkedIn Learning platform could be a great use of time and effort.

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