College students spend an inordinate amount of time online, specifically on social networks. One site that students should utilize more often and more efficiently is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn, although used by most as a simple business connection site, has many features that go unnoticed or unused by the majority of users. In addition to utilizing these features, college students should proactively network with LinkedIn in order to gain valuable connections.
Build the Proper Profile
For the same reason you wouldn’t make your resume as long as a novel, you shouldn’t be overly detailed on your LinkedIn profile. Stick to the key jobs or internships you have held and note the most memorable accomplishments and skills for each. Recruiters will check out your profile, so whatever you say, make it count.
Your profile headline should depict one of three things:
Your profile picture should look professional, unless applying for a creative position of sorts, then depict your creativity.
Network within Your Industry
If there are companies that you would die to work for, search for employees there and LinkedIn will tell you if you have any 1st or 2nd degree connections there. These are the more valuable connections as there is only either 0 or 1 degree(s) of separation. A 1st degree connection, or someone who you already know, would be ideal as they would hopefully help you out as much as they can.
If you find yourself with only 2nd degree connections, ask your mutual connection(s) to see if they can get you in contact with whom you would like to speak to. Reaching out like this is a sure-fire way to get noticed by any employer. It not only shows initiative, but they will surely visit your LinkedIn page, and thus see your resume. Be sure to use the right etiquette when networking through social media.
Join and Participate in Groups
Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn groups. Offer discussions based on the group (ex. Advertising Professional is a group full of, you guessed it, advertising professionals offering new news or insights). Although most discussions aren’t necessarily about jobs, posting great insight can help get you noticed by many industry leaders. Some groups also contain a “Jobs” tab where companies in the industry will post relevant openings. You can apply straight on LinkedIn so the process is nice and easy.
LinkedIn also has a general “Jobs” tab that doesn’t target specific groups. You can search using keywords, job functions, and more.
Update Your Status
Post your own status updates with relevant, professional articles that you find interesting. Include your own take on the subject matter. Don’t be afraid to comment on your connections’ updates as well, especially if they’re well-known in the industry.
In addition to posting updates, make note of passive updates such as a connection getting a new job or promotion and congratulate your peers!
Chat with Hiring Managers
When networking or reaching out to companies that interest you, make note of the HR or Talent Acquisition managers. They will be the ones to get in touch with. If you land an interview, be sure to check and see if they have a LinkedIn profile so that you have some background information on them. This can help you either be more personable or give you questions to ask them.
Recommendations and Endorsements
Get recommendations and endorsements from co-workers and fellow students whom you work with. They make your profile look stronger and give anyone looking at your profile a sense of reliability. Also give out recommendations and endorsements for those who you can honestly recommend to an employer.
College students need to think of LinkedIn as a professional Twitter. Connect, or “follow”, your friends and co-workers. Follow companies that you’re interested in for any new updates. Most importantly, participate in group discussions related to your field of interest and network with professionals. Think of it like tweeting at a celebrity; there’s no real harm in trying.