LinkedIn 101: How Can it Help?

     Learning to build connections is one of the most important networking strategies that should be considered. Because most people are still stuck at home due to COVID-19, now more than ever are recruiters turning to virtual and digital means to search for prospective employees. Being a freshman in college, just starting out and preparing a path to the workforce, I am hearing more and more about how beneficial Linkedin can be, especially now. Initially, the app seemed like just another social site. As time went by, I realized that LinkedIn is the Instagram of the professional world. 

     LinkedIn works by linking employers with potential employees while providing a place for individuals to post resumes and offer referrals and for employers to post current job openings. It can help you find people who work for the companies you want to work for and allow you to send messages to them. You can also connect with people that you have met in recent meetings, fellow students, and even professors. You can also use your connection requests strategically to engage and build relationships with your target employers and influencers in your market space.

     But first things first: What is a LinkedIn profile? Well, your LinkedIn profile is the central area that recruiters, connectors, and others see when they view your information on LinkedIn. Your profile can include details on your employment history, job qualifications, experience, volunteering, education, skills, articles you have posted, and content you have liked or commented on. Before you begin your journey of connecting, take some time to fill out those categories on your profile so that you have a solid foundation of information that can help people get to know you. Like your resume, it should demonstrate your work experience, abilities, and education. Unlike a resume, which often does not include a photo, LinkedIn users expect you to include a professional headshot of yourself. You can also change the background image to make it appropriate to your interests, but it’s still important to keep it polished and business-like. 

     Don’t be afraid to write about and show off professional and academic accomplishments, because this is the place for it. Use it to tell your story. Share your experiences, build up your resume, and develop your portfolio to stand out to recruiters. If a certain job or company catches your interest, find their recruiters, and message them on LinkedIn. Prioritize telling them about who you are and your passion for their job or company. Follow up with them after your conversation and show that you are engaged. In this way, you are able to use your LinkedIn to it’s fullest extent by being a proactive job seeker.

     According to a blog written on the University of the Cumberlands undergrad site, “Once you start making connections, you can begin to gain some recognition. Have colleagues, classmates, and professors offer endorsements for your skills. In some cases, a well-written recommendation from a professor or individual you have worked with in the field can open up career opportunities down the line.” It can then be said that LinkedIn gives you the ability to build a strong social media path towards career connections later.

     If you are not currently seeking a job but want to stay updated about possible openings, It can be useful to simply search the opportunities available on the site. Whenever you find one that is interesting, you can follow or save it for later. Over time, this also can help you learn what type of person a company/job recruiter is looking for, and what character traits they prefer that person to have. As you start to gain these traits, you can add them to your profile. You can also use some of those keywords in their job description to put in your resume. When reading over all of the applications they get, recruiters often search for those keywords to see who could fit the role best.

     As a college student, you may not always have all of the qualifications for your dream job just yet. You still have so much learning and experience gaining to do before that future position becomes available to you. LinkedIn can help you begin that step of building and climbing to the top. Making those important career goals early in your college career, no matter how small, can give you something to reach for and can definitely help you in the future.