While in college, students worry about having enough money for tuition, what to major in, finding time to study, and passing mid-terms and finals. Having a LinkedIn page is probably far from their mind. But it shouldn't be! LinkedIn is a valuable tool in their arsenal for helping them to establish their career.
It is important to remember that LinkedIn is your professional face to the business world. It is not like Facebook or YouTube. Don't post goofy pictures, be silly, or say inappropriate things. Put your best foot forward. You are creating your own personal branding and this is your sales letter (about you) to future employers and to the world.
With that in mind, here are 11 reasons why every student needs to join LinkenIn:
- Build your professional network. It's never too early to start building a network with people in your career area. Start by linking to classmates who are in your major. While they are friends and classmates now, in the future they become business referrals. Ask professors who are in LinkedIn to write a recommendation for you. Linking to professors ensure that you will stay connected to them after you graduate. This could be beneficial.
- Check out career paths. Find people who are in LinkedIn who are already employed in your desired profession. Check out their profiles to see what they have done to become successful. See if you can incorporate something from their career path into yours.
- Prepare for interviews. When you have a job or internship interview, review the profile of the person who will interview you. Having this background knowledge during the interview will help impress the interviewer.
- Get referrals. Networking is all about who you know and who those people know. If there is someone in LinkedIn that you would like to meet, ask a mutual acquaintance to for an introduction.
- Land internships or jobs while in school. Is there a company that you would like to work for or an internship that interests you? LinkedIn can help you find a common connection to someone at that place of business.
- Gain connections from conference attendees. When you meet new acquaintances at a conference that you attend as a student, chances are you do not have a business card to share. Nor do other students. LinkedIn is the perfect place to maintain a connection to those people once you have returned back to school.
- Share updates with others. When you update your LinkedIn profile or experiences, your network is automatically informed about these changes. You don't have to send out individual e-mails to everybody. A nice side benefit is that this automatic notification brings you to their attention and awareness. Then, you will be on their mind when they learn about job possibilities that fit your qualifications.
- Extend your resume. Many companies prefer receiving one-page resumes. That's not room for a lot of information. LinkedIn provides a place to have more in-depth information than what a short resume can ever hope to provide. Put your LinkedIn profile URL on your resume (and business cards). Future employers can then find more information about you in LinkedIn.
- Join a group. LinkedIn automatically shows you groups you may like to join based on the information in your profile. As a member of the group, you have access to thought leaders and experts in your industry. Read their posts to glean information about the industry and to gain their insights about current trends. Post thoughtful comments so group members can get to know you. Group connections are helpful during a job search.
- Research a company. LinkedIn provides information about different companies. This information helps you determine whether or not you would like working for that company. It also shows how many current job openings that company has and how many people in your network are employed there.
- Search for jobs. And last but not least, use LinkedIn to help you find a job. When you click on the Jobs link, it shows jobs that are compatible to your profile. You can also search for additional job openings. While having access to jobs posted in LinkedIn is great, LinkedIn has a unique feature that is not available on other job websites. LinkedIn tells you how many people in your network or group who works at the company. Those people can help you get the job that you are interested in.
With the current economy, unemployment rates are high. Sometimes hundreds of people compete for single job openings. If you follow these 11 ways to use LinkedIn, you will be a step ahead of your competition. You'll have a good network of associates. You will have insider information about people in your career area. You have knowledge about a wide variety of companies. You can land the job of your dreams quicker and with more help by having a LinkedIn page. Get one now if you don't have one!
The Guest Post was written by Brendan Cruickshank. Brendan has served in senior client services roles in the online job search and recruiting industry for the past 8 years. He has worked with major sites like Juju.com and JobsInTheMoney.com, and also gives his expert insight regularly on topics in employment and jobs trends in publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and US News & World Report.