My students often ask me, “Should I join LinkedIn?” and before they can even finish their sentence I respond – “ ABSOLUTELY!” LinkedIn is not Facebook and it is not Twitter. While Facebook allows you to stay connected with family and friends and Twitter provides you the opportunity to read, write and share pretty much anything within 140 characters, LinkedIn helps you meet people in your field, connect professionally with Fairfield alumni, and create a personal brand. LinkedIn is definitely still a “Social” network, but with a professional focus. Much like with any social network you have to actively participate (Connect with people, Join groups, etc) to really see the value in it. In a Forbes article entitled 6 Things You Must Do To Get Your First Job After College, they list creating a LinkedIn account as Step 1. See what they say below:
Create a LinkedIn profile.
Even if the profile is just a bare-bones list of where you attend high school, your extra-curricular activities, including awards or accolades, what you see as your skills, and a summary of the sort of career that may interest you, it’s a good idea to create this early. Do include jobs you’ve held, like working at a summer camp or babysitting; they show you’re enterprising and have shouldered responsibility. As you grow and accumulate more work experience, you can delete your early jobs and add new ones.
I’ll add one more LinkedIn strength: It can be extremely helpful to start building your list of connections early. Most adults you know have LinkedIn profiles with multiple contacts. Do connect to as many people as you can.
Schawbel says most students figure that because they already have a Facebook page, they are doing sufficient social networking. But most employers don’t troll Facebook looking for job candidates. “It looks good if employers can find you on LinkedIn,” insists Schawbel, who predicts it will remain the pre-eminent professional social networking site in the foreseeable future. Among college students, the survey showed that only a third have a presence on LinkedIn. You will stand out from the competition if you create a LinkedIn account.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you make the transition from college student to working professional. Our alumni are using it, employers are using it, and now it is your turn. Come by and see us if you need help setting up an account. More LinkedIn to tips to come via our blog – so stay tuned!
Assistant Director, Career Planning Center