While many people are slowly gaining familiarity with the LinkedIn system, perhaps largely in part due to my never-ending preaching about it, the LinkedIn “Answers” tab is one that most people still haven’t fully discovered or put to good use in their job search campaigns.  This innocuous little feature of the system, however, can have tremendous power in helping people obtain deep, knowledgeable answers about any virtually any career, business, or employment-related subject under the sun!

Want a case in point?  One of my current clients, Kari Chwirka, allowed me to publish her name and use her recent foray onto LinkedIn Answers as a case study.  As a high school teacher and librarian with many years of experience, Kari recently decided the time had come to start exploring some new career options outside of the educational system.  What she quickly found, however, was that making this type of transition wasn’t necessarily going to be easy — and that achieving a significant career change (especially from the educational world to the private sector) would require a lot of courage, a clear game plan, and some extensive research into where her skills would best translate outside of a school setting.

In guiding her through this process, one of the recommendations I made was to post an appropriate question to the LinkedIn “Answers” section to see if any of the millions of other LinkedIn users might have made a similar transition, themselves, and have valuable advice and feedback to offer.  To her credit, she took me up on this suggestion, ran a suitable question up the flagpole, and within several days had received three very detailed, high-quality answers to her inquiry.

While certainly no replacement for the many other kinds of research one can conduct in the career change process, you can certainly see the value of using the LinkedIn tool in this type of supplemental capacity, and there are dozens of additional stories I could pass along where people tapped into the Answers feature to gain valuable insights from their peers.  If you didn’t notice, too, the system lists the job title and current place of employment for each person who replies to a question, so you can easily gauge a person’s credibility and determine whether it’s likely they know what they’re talking about!

So if you’ve got a “burning question” related to your job search or a potential career issue, don’t be afraid to give the LinkedIn community a chance to chime in. And in the off-chance anybody out there has some additional great suggestions or advice with regard to Kari’s situation, feel free to pass them along by e-mailing her here!  I’m sure she’d love to hear from you…