How to use LinkedIn's Alumni tool to network, job hunt

LinkedIn debuted LinkedIn Classmates in October 2011, designing the tool to give you insights into your college or university's alumni and help you connect with them. It surfaced high-level information about fellow alumni, such as the most popular companies they work for, the fields they're working, where they live and more.

This week, LinkedIn launched an update of the tool, releasing a handful of new features renamed it LinkedIn Alumni.

"Gathered from the profiles of more than 200 million members, LinkedIn's Alumni tool helps you explore alumni career paths from more than 22,000 colleges and universities worldwide-and build relationships that can help you along the way," says Christina Allen, director of product management at LinkedIn.

Here's a look at the new LinkedIn Alumni tool, plus how you can use it to connect on a more personal level and grow your network.

LinkedIn's New Alumni Tool

If you're looking for a job at a specific company, in a particular industry or in a certain location-or are just curious about where your college friends are now working-the LinkedIn Alumni tool makes finding those people easy.

Navigate to www.linkedin.com/alumni to start. Your college or university will automatically be selected.

At the top of your Alumni page you'll see three subheads: "Where they live," "Where they work," and "What they do." Click the arrow to the right to view additional categories, which include "Where they studied," "What they're skilled at" and "How you are connected."

All the graphs are interactive: Click any of the blue bars to drill down and refine your search. Clicking "Greater New York City Area," for example, will display the names of alumni living in New York City below the graph, and update the top lists detailing the companies they they work for and the fields in which that specific group of alumni work.

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You can also explore the alumni of other colleges and universities by searching for one under "Change school" in the top-right. You can also narrow searches by refining the attendance dates, found at the top.

How to use LinkedIn Alumni to find a graduate program: If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA or other graduate degree, LinkedIn's Alumni tool can help you find a good fit.

Use the Alumni tool to see which schools place graduates in careers most aligned with your professional goals, Allen suggests. "Search for a school, select the field of study most relevant to you, and you'll get a top 25 list of companies that have hired graduates from the selected school," she says.

Below, you'll see the graduates whose careers match your goals. To see the career paths they took to their current position, click their names.

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How to use LinkedIn Alumni to job hunt: If you're job hunting and know you want to work for Google, for example, use the Alumni tool to find graduates of your school-and with your major-who work there now.

If the company doesn't appear in your top five list, click the magnifying glass icon to search for it. Then, select the field of work to narrow the pool.

"We've found out that most people want to help out fellow students and alumni, and are open to informational interviews," Allen says. "It's a great way to get your foot in the door."

Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking, social business and enterprise collaboration for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at kburnham@cio.com

Read more about consumer in CIO's Consumer Drilldown.

This story, "How to use LinkedIn's Alumni tool to network, job hunt" was originally published by CIO.

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