Using the Network for Good: LinkedIn’s Veterans Initiative

Alison Dorsey leads LinkedIn’s veterans initiative focused on supporting military veteran job seekers to build their professional brands, networks and access to career opportunities. After launching a microsite in 2011, LinkedIn released a newly designed website on Veterans Day 2013. Dorsey and her team recognized that LinkedIn is personalized to each user and veterans needed training on how to use the platform well, so the new site includes information on how to leverage LinkedIn.

Dorsey also helps LinkedIn members represent their social impact in their LinkedIn profiles and connect with nonprofit brands and positions. She works directly with the products that facilitate these connections: The volunteer experience and causes section of the LinkedIn profile and Board Member Connect, which helps nonprofit leaders connect with board members.

Prior to joining LinkedIn, Dorsey founded a social venture incubator and a student-focused talent marketplace in North Carolina. She studied public policy at Duke University.

Dorsey recently spoke with Diversity Executive. Below are edited excerpts from the interview:

The microsite launched in 2011. Since then, what has the reaction been?

We launched the veterans microsite realizing that we had a unique opportunity to help veterans use the LinkedIn platform to network and find jobs with civilians. We also wanted to provide a mechanism for veterans to redeem their one-year free job seeker subscription. The reaction from the community has been positive, but we realize that we have an opportunity to reach many more veterans.

In creating the new website, what were you specifically looking to offer veterans? What were you updating from the old site?

The redesigned microsite launched on Nov. 11, 2013, at veterans.linkedin.com, and it includes additional training materials on how to best leverage LinkedIn to develop a professional identity, build out a network and access career opportunities. We’re also populating the site with stories and advice from both veteran job seekers and companies sourcing veteran job candidates on LinkedIn. We hope these examples of successfully using LinkedIn for career advancement will help others take similar steps themselves.

Based of your work with veterans since 2011, what do you think they struggle with the most in trying to find a new job?

When first transitioning out of the military, many veterans are just getting started expanding their networks to connect with civilian career opportunities. It takes time to build a community of professionals who will vouch for your skills and connect you with job openings. A trusted network of professional contacts is especially important when the hiring manager doesn’t fully understand the background of the candidate, which is a challenge frequently faced by veteran candidates, making their references even more important. We know that network-based job seeking is effective, so we’re working with veterans to help them approach their network development post-service.

How does LinkedIn have a unique position to help veterans and job seekers?

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 259 million members. We believe that veterans benefit from connecting with a large and diverse community of peers, recruiters and hiring managers. The unparalleled size and reach of the LinkedIn professional network is our unique position and we want to use it to connect veteran job seekers with the people and opportunities that will advance their careers.

Of all the different unemployed and underserved populations, what does LinkedIn see as its responsibility to veterans?

Veterans are a highly skilled pool of job seekers. Their experience, training and leadership are in demand by major corporations. LinkedIn has the opportunity to help corporations find veterans and veterans find jobs.

Does the microsite offer something different/unique from LinkedIn as a whole?

The veterans microsite provides a more personal experience and entrance to LinkedIn. The site features veteran-specific content, including veteran profiles, veteran jobs and training materials that are tailored to veterans.

What are some unique skill sets veterans have to offer that they can learn about through LinkedIn?

We help veterans develop their professional identities, networks and career prospects, but the veterans themselves already have their skill sets when they arrive at LinkedIn.

Mary Camille Izlar is an editorial intern at Diversity Executive magazine. She can be reached at editor@diversity-executive.com.