Why College Students Need to Be on LinkedIn
Join ASK for a LinkedIn Workshop on Thursday 8/20 at 7pm.
Excerpt from “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success” by Wayne Breitbarth
Here are the top ten reasons young people should be on LinkedIn prior to graduating from college:
- They are already on Facebook and other social networking sites, so they will grasp LinkedIn more quickly. Because the sites operate so similarly, it will not be hard for college students to trade some of their Facebook time for LinkedIn time in order to advance their professional presence in social media.
- LinkedIn is perhaps the only social networking site a young person’s future employer is actually active on. If business executives choose only one social networking site, they typically choose LinkedIn – so young job seekers definitely want to make sure they have a profile there. To assist potential employers finding him, remind the young person to include his LinkedIn public profile URL on him resume, cover letters, and e-mail signature.
- LinkedIn users can review and print the profile of the person with whom they are going to interview prior to calling or meeting her. This is an invaluable resource in helping interviewees understand who the interviewer is and finding areas of potential discussion and commonality for their upcoming interview. Remind the young person that the businessperson who wrote that profile is proud of every bit of information included in it. Understanding and remembering it will result in a much richer conversation during the interview, which should give him a competitive advantage over the other candidates for the job.
- Encourage the young person to prepare a video resume, and have her place the link to it in her Professional Gallery or the Website section of her LinkedIn profile. Video resumes are a powerful differentiator for college students, because not only can they go into more detail about their specific accomplishments, but they can also show their personality and passion for their current projects and future goals.
- LinkedIn allows students to make connections in college that will give their upcoming job search a huge boost. They may say, Yeah, but I don’t know anybody in business, so how can I really go about putting together that muskie net you talked about? Encourage them to connect with their fellow students, and remind them that the idea is not just to add more Level 1 connections but also the 2’s and 3’s to which those Level 1’s are connected. The minute a student connects with her roommate, she could be adding all the business executives her roommate’s parents know into her network. College students should also be connecting with friends of their parents or family members who are tied into the business community. That will allow them to begin having conversations with more seasoned professionals about what the student hopes to accomplish as he or she approaches graduation. Adding fellow students and family friends in the business community is one way to begin a successful networking career.
- Students can use LinkedIn to search for internships. Chances are the company he or she wants to get an upcoming summer internship with is on LinkedIn. The student may be fortunate enough to find the specific person he wants to meet, but, if not, he may at least find people in the same department. He can then figure out if someone he knows is connected to those people. Most internships are found through networking, not through answering ads, and LinkedIn can give young people a head start on the networking they need to do in order to find that perfect internship. Students can also use the LinkedIn Jobs function to search for internships.
- When a student begins her formal job search in earnest, LinkedIn will allow her to look for the people she wants to sit down with to discuss the kind of job she is looking for and how she might go about getting it. These people will function as career mentors to her, and she will have a lot more opportunities to find the right mentors if she is connected to the right people on LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn can help students find recruiters who are involved in the industry in which they hope to find their first job. Recruiters love LinkedIn and are very active on it. Having an excellent profile also increases the chances of recruiters finding the student.
- LinkedIn can be used as the student’s home page or personal website. It can bring together all of the social networking sites he uses (his blog and his accounts with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.). However, he will want to be certain the information posted on these other sites is in line with the professional image he wants to portray. His future employer does not want to hear about his experience hosting parties with beer pong and bikinis; that type of information can ruin his chances at a job.
- Special profile sections entitled Courses Honors & Awards, Organizations, Projects, and Test Scores are particularly helpful for students. In addition, the Volunteer Experience & Causes section allows students to list all of their volunteer work, college leadership experiences, and committees on which they served. This will help to differentiate them from students who have been less active while attending college. When the student is looking for a job immediately following her graduation from college, she probably won’t have a lot of formal job experience; these leadership positions and volunteer opportunities set her apart in the eyes of potential employers. Remember, she gets 2,000 characters for each job and educational entry on her profile. If the student has had these types of experiences, remind her to take full advantage of the Experience section as a way to exhibit her worth to potential employers or individuals who could assist her in her job search.
As valuable as LinkedIn and other social media tools can be in achieving personal and professional goals, they can be equally detrimental if a person’s online presence is inconsistent with his or her actual personality and character. College is the best time to begin thinking about who you are, what you stand for, and what type of company you wish to affiliate yourself with, and LinkedIn can get students started towards that positive, powerful, “professional personal brand” that will stick with them throughout their career.
Applying the Power Formula
- Even though the young person in your life may be just beginning his professional career, he already has unique experiences that could be very helpful to him in his upcoming job search. Internships, organizational involvement (especially leadership positions), and summer employment can be explained on his LinkedIn profile in such a way that they will show prospective employers tat the student is the type of strong candidate they are looking for.
- Employers aren’t the only ones who can write recommendations. Leaders of organizations, teachers, and professors can also help students substantiate some of the unique experiences they have had through a testimonial on LinkedIn.
- The special profile sections and Professional Gallery feature can help students more effectively convey their collegiate experience in ways that will differentiate them from other candidates. Understanding and using these tools could significantly enhance the student’s ability to tell the story of his or her unique experience. Plus, the proficiency on LinkedIn is a skill many employers will regard as leading edge.
- Students’ unique relationships with teachers, parents, mentors, and other students can lead to second- or third-degree connections that may help them land that important interview.