Career Principles: Liz Li of LinkedIn

Careers are filled with endless decisions and countless opportunities. How do you figure out which path is right for you and be proactive in building a meaningful career that is right for you?

On Tuesday, January 18, Cap and Gown hosted a virtual discussion (Career Principles and How To Use Them) with LinkedIn’s Senior Director of Product, Liz Li. Liz graduated from Stanford in 2006 and has been working at LinkedIn for the past 11 years. She has worked across both the monetization and consumer orgs, launching LinkedIn’s first Sales Solutions product, leading acquisition and retention for LinkedIn Premium subscriptions, and guiding the redesign of the consumer onboarding flows and success metrics to focus on long term engagement, shifting the company from purely focusing on top of the funnel growth.

Despite graduate level studies in electrical engineering, Liz emphasized viewing one’s career as a product, just like what a product does for the users, a job should do for one. Personally, she valued a breadth of impact over depth of impact, no matter what the position title would be. When given an opportunity to promote to a higher position but in a different team in LinkedIn, Liz prioritized her own love of advocating for users, growing her career through her principles rather than position titles. Following her values, she stayed within the consumer organization to deliver impact to a large audience. 

Li also described career principles as being dynamic, shifting as she grew and developed. For example, she specified a nice work-life balance to prioritize her family’s needs but also time for herself to improve her mental health. She also feels that writing down these career principles has helped her prioritize and maintain her happiness above all.  Liz gave us four tips on what career principles should mean and how to establish these core values.

  1. Career principles are personal rules you align your career to.
  2. They should help you make decisions.
  3. They can be around the work as much as they are about the work.
  4. Principles can and should change.

After an inspiring talk from Liz Li, the Q&A session began where students and alumni interacted with Liz on a more personal level:

Q: What is the most challenging part of your current position?

A: My team is the “center of everything,” where much communication occurs between her team and other teams. However, I enjoy working in the realm of where the user directly interacts with LinkedIn because it fulfills one of my career principles of “breadth of impact over depth of impact.” Although challenging, the role is fulfilling.

Q: What are your tips for salary negotiations?

A: Always negotiate, even when you feel reluctant. Use resources, such as GlassDoor and LinkedIn to understand salary ranges and learn more about companies and their roles.

Q: In an interview, how do you respond to “where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years” when you have the mindset of not having your profession as your singular passion?

A: This question is a mix between being authentic to your own career goals and what appeases to your interviewer. You can describe your future in terms of your more general goals in your career and your life more than just what role you want. Realistically, it might be more strategic in answering with more professional passion to appeal to the interviewer.

Q: Are there any specific features of LinkedIn that many don’t know much about to take advantage of?

A: Students should utilize the feed feature more, not specifically for sharing accomplishments, but asking for help. This establishes and leverages your network more effectively. When students are more public about what they are looking for, they are more likely to get some sort of progress towards what they want.

Liz walked through the difficult decisions of balancing personal life and career, career principles over titles, and what a fulfilling career means. She noted your career does not have to be your strongest passion but rather should follow your general goals for what you want to contribute to the world.

Near the end of the discussion, Cap and Gown announced their exciting annual mentorship program and encouraged alumnae members to sign up as mentors and student members to sign up as mentees. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to more personally gain life and career advice, like the words of wisdom Liz offered the 50+ attendees. Then, alumni and students will be matched up on time commitment, fields of interest, and other factors. For the last fifteen minutes, students and alumnae were divided into breakout rooms, where they got a chance to connect across generations and explore what a meaning mentoring relationship could look like.