The average college student today probably has three main social accounts that they constantly check: Twitter, Facebook, and good old email. Today’s student should now look to add LinkedIn to that list.
No, it won’t tell you what Kim Kardashian ate for lunch (#nothing), or what new video game your brother likes, but it can help you get a job and requires the same abilities. As familiar as this generation is with social media, it is surprising how many don’t have a LinkedIn account, or don’t know how to use it. I was one of these people not too long ago, and feel that anyone looking for a job could benefit from its service, so I’m here to help.
First, a little background on the purpose of LinkedIn. As with all social media, it is a tool to connect users, and in this case potential employers or mentors with those looking for a job. Users are able to post information about themselves including their professional skills, their past jobs, their interests, and even a copy of their resume. Through the sources available on the site, users can also learn and share information on their field of interest with others in their industry, and see what connections they may share with, say, a potential employer, based on their “networks” – which are like “friends” or “followers,” but are actually professionals that you have a professional connection with. So as you can see, the gist of LinkedIn isn’t too much different from your other social media, but then why do people not know how to use it?
For me, and I’m sure for many others out there, the problem comes down to the content. What can you share on LinkedIn without being boring? Well, to truly represent yourself to a potential employer, you want to make your posts representative of you, but within the limits of what you would share with them over a business lunch. What you are currently up to in your life (without the drama), progress/ results of a project you are or have done, something interesting you read, or questions for others in your field are all acceptable posts. Sharing these things on your feed will let employers know “you” and give you a place to gloat about your professional/ academic accomplishments. Of course, professionalism is the rule of thumb, so complete sentences and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation all must be present.
“Oh great, another social network to manage. Can’t they just look at my Facebook for all of this information?” Sure it is another account to manage, but as far as all of the SNSs out there, few can provide the benefits that LinkedIn can, while portraying the workplace you rather than the off the clock you. If social media was real life, Facebook and Twitter would be like going out with your friends and their friends, while LinkedIn would be like attending a conference in your occupation. You wouldn’t talk at the conference like you would at the bars, so why would you want an employer to base their hiring decision off you out with your friends, so why would you want them to go to your Facebook over a LinkedIn account? Not to mention that your professional skills aren’t portrayed on Facebook, but are a highlight on LinkedIn accounts. If you still are really against running another account, and you feel that you wouldn’t have any problems with an employer seeing all of your tweets, LinkedIn does allow for their accounts to be linked with users’ Twitter profiles. Just be sure to keep your skills and resume up to date.
Conferences I have attended, and employers I have talked to have said that they are starting to utilize LinkedIn more in the hiring process because of its convenience. Setting up a profile takes a matter of minutes, and with a user-friendly mobile app is easy to manage, not to mention it is free. The service that LinkedIn provides is invaluable to today’s college student looking to enter the working world, and is worth the time of updating yet another status, especially if it can land you a job. Of course, don’t forget how to talk with employers and be personable in person.
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