How to Use LinkedIn: Everything You Need to Know

We at Her Campus know this year’s job search hasn’t been a walk down the yellow brick road. We know that whether you were looking for a summer internship or a full-time job, you’ve probably spent the last few months (or at least weeks) religiously attending recruiting sessions and career counseling seminars. We know you’ve probably sent out about three dozen applications, are still knocking on wood to hear back from a few contacts, and otherwise are brushing up on your interview vocabulary. And we also know about that knee-jerk feeling of terror and resignation when you’ve just received that cum laude diploma yet are planning to shack up with the ‘rents for the summer as you continue perfecting your STAR approach for upcoming face time with employers.

But while the national unemployment rate (8.2% last month) seems to be in permanent lockdown mode and your peers contemplate spending the next twelve months shelving nonfiction reads at the local Border’s while applying for graduate school, you don’t have to go along. Your game plan? Cannibalize some of that time you were planning on spending poolside in July and start a LinkedIn profile.

HC recently sat down to coffee with Neal Schaffer, author of Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn and a certified social media bibliophile. Having studied at Amherst College and witnessed the Tiananmen Square protests as a study abroad student in Beijing, Schaffer went on to launch his career in finance and sales in Kyoto immediately following graduation. After a few years in Japan, he spent a decade driving sales on the mainland before eventually moving back stateside to start a family. But all of this, he points out, was made possible through proactive personal networking as time passed.
And it hasn’t been easy, either (can you imagine keeping up with your friends with just a telephone in tow?). But thanks to LinkedIn, graduates these days have access to a gold mine of professionals and peers who are ready to make landing that dream (or at least first) gig that much easier. Here’s a rundown of what you should know about LinkedIn to get started:
So I’ve had my Facebook account for ages, but what exactly IS LinkedIn?
It’s essentially a Facebook, but for professional networking. You’ll have your own profile with a list of “links” (a bit like the “Friends” feature on Facebook), a brief headline describing your current profession, workplace, and geographic location. You’ll also have a longer profile that runs like a resume where you’ll also be able to include a personal statement on your accomplishments and skill sets.
But in more intuitive terms, think about LinkedIn as a public marketplace where you’ll be able to market and sell one product: yourself. You’ll be able to brand yourself by fleshing out which attributes really make you stand out from everyone else in this market. And finally, you’ll have the opportunity to “market” yourself as a job candidate to recruiters, companies, and industry professionals by linking yourself to others on this 150 million strong network.