LinkedIn strategies for those open to work

Coffee, discounted happy hours, appetizers at lunch and even Zoom calls can be a good way to connect

The decline in mortgage volume and increasing interest rates mean that mortgage businesses are working to preserve their bottom lines, often by cutting costs. For many, this has meant layoffs and job cuts — in fact, almost every major mortgage lender cut a portion of their staff last year

As time goes on and uncertainty about the rest of the year remains, more mortgage professionals may find themselves updating their LinkedIn status to “Open to Work” and determining their strategy for the job hunt ahead. 

“I think figuring out what works for you is really important,” said Michele Kryczkowski, a senior mortgage professional who was open to work for four to five months. She recently announced her new position as Distributed Retail Division Performance Executive at Cardinal Financial. 

Kryczkowski gained attention on LinkedIn during her job search by posting candid videos about her “#opentowork” journey. She spoke to HousingWire about her own job hunt strategy, how to stand out among the crowd on LinkedIn and the best way to avoid burnout. 

Making and flexing connections

Kryczkowski said her strategy was all about networking, connecting with people and building relationships. 

“I made a conscious decision to put all my time and money and effort into networking with people. My connections did a good job of helping me with other introductions, and I met so many people through my videos as well,” she said. 

Budget-friendly meeting options such as coffee, discounted happy hours, appetizers at lunch and even Zoom calls can be a good way to connect. 

In terms of who to reach out to, she recommended two groups of people in particular. 

The first were salespeople, including vendors you’ve previously worked with, because they have connections and tend to know a lot about what’s going on with other companies. 

“Salespeople are a very good resource about knowing where companies are going next — who’s hiring, who’s laying off, who’s staying steady and who might need someone such as yourself,” she said. “They already know you and then they may know this whole network of people.”

She also recommended researching your places of interest on LinkedIn because it will show you who in your network either currently or previously worked there, and you can then reach out to them.

“Get an employee or someone that has that connection to vouch for you — I certainly got an interview that way,” she said. “[It’s about] really trying to dig deep and figure out who you know and can message who can help get you in front.” 

Standing out on LinkedIn

As someone whose LinkedIn posts gained traction, Kryczkowski recommended that other people looking for work try video content as a way to stand out.

Video can be an interesting way to market yourself and showcase who you are and what you want out of your future employer. But no matter what you post on LinkedIn, you need to keep it positive and make sure you’re representing yourself well to any prospective employers.

“You have to remember that what you’re posting is public. You’ve got to come across no differently than you would in an interview. Be genuine and stay true to yourself, but as a prospective employer would want to see you,” she said. “If your content is negative, no one’s going to pass you along [as a recommendation]. You need to be someone who they can stand behind.”

Another way to make a difference in your job search via LinkedIn is to do your research and find out who the hiring manager is for the role you’re interested in. Depending on their profile settings, you can message them directly with any questions you have about the role. 

“I definitely browsed some jobs and messaged the hiring manager before I even considered applying,” she said. “That, to me, helps you understand if you should even be applying. I don’t want to waste their time applying for a job if it’s not what I want and I’m not what they’re looking for.” 

The hiring manager won’t always respond, but it’s worth trying, she said. 

“You’ve got to be willing to message people [and] it’s all about your approach. You don’t want to go into somebody’s DMs and be like, ‘I’m really desperate, I want this job,’” she said. “Again, it’s all about how you present yourself.”

Preventing burnout 

During the job hunt, it can be challenging to remain positive not only in your LinkedIn content but your everyday attitude. Be sure to take time for yourself during your job search journey. 

“It is so important to ground yourself with people that won’t make you feel guilty for taking time for yourself, and having people to remind you that it’s okay to give yourself permission to take a break in a really rough season,” Kryczkowski said. “I think finding things that bring you joy or even trying new things that you maybe didn’t get the opportunity to do when you’re working because you’re crazy busy [can be good].” 

For her, it was gardening; for other people she spoke with, it was taking a daily walk. 

“Just finding laughter and things that bring you joy in a really stressful time is super important,” she said. 

Helping others

Kryczkowski said she sympathizes with people who’ve been laid off for the first time and are struggling. In fact, that’s another reason she wanted to make LinkedIn content — to help lift up others.

“We can’t forget that we hired a bunch of non-mortgage or first-time mortgage people into this industry, and what are we doing to help them now through the tough times when they helped us with the really busy times?” she said. “We have to help people who are going through this for the first time, I think we owe it to them.” 

One way to help others who are also on the hunt is to pass along information and referrals when approached about a role that might not be right for you. You can also give past coworkers a LinkedIn recommendation or endorsement on their profile. 

Even just a phone call can be helpful, whether you have a job lead for someone on the hunt or not. It’s a good way to show you care.

“I think it’s our responsibility to help each other,” Kryczkowski said. “It’s remarkable to see what people are doing individually to help each other right now. That’s what I love about this industry.” 

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