LinkedIn? What’s that again? Like, Facebook for business folk?
Sort of, actually. Here are ten reasons why students should be on LinkedIn…
LinkedIn is a social networking site specifically created in order for users to share professional contacts, keep track of their achievements and help improve or even change their career path. While a lot of students think LinkedIn is only for people already in work, this is a common myth. Having a LinkedIn account can boost your job prospects when you’ve finished your degree, and it can be a useful tool when searching for a placement during it.
1) Online CV
While the CV you have typed up and printed out may be sufficient for that part time bar job, it won’t cut the mustard when it comes to getting yourself known. There are thousands of graduates out there, but not all of them are on LinkedIn. Fill out your profile correctly, add your work experience and qualifications, and potential employers will be able to find you. You could even appear in Google search results! The more you update your profile the, more chance you have of being noticed.
Another big plus of being on LinkedIn is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with people you would never normally meet. For example, if you have a part time job in Primark you could connect with your boss; your boss may then have connections with people from other big businesses, and by connecting with them, you strengthen your network! It’s also a good idea to add other students from your course – in a similar fashion, they could also could have connections that you’re interested in.
On LinkedIn there are hundreds of groups that are created by companies, societies, charities etc. For example, there’s a group called “Society of Professional Journalists”. If you’re interested in journalism you can send a request to join this group and, once accepted, you can post questions to other members and even ask if there are any work or placement opportunities. It’s also a good platform to learn more about the industry you’re interested in. I know this works because I’m going on a placement next year, and I managed to secure one of my interviews with a large company based in Birmingham via this method!
4) Keep track of your achievements
Another great reason to join LinkedIn is to keep track of your achievements. The CV aspect is not just for work and academic achievements – you can also add any charity fundraising and/or first aid courses you’ve completed. This is another easy way to show off your skills and save them for future reference.
5) Job prospects
Having a LinkedIn account immediately boosts your job prospects. As I mentioned above, the ability to network and join groups connects you with people you would never meet. Applying for jobs when you finish university is hard work in itself, but having a LinkedIn account can put you in touch with the right people, potentially making the task a whole lot easier.
On your LinkedIn profile there is also a section titled “Recommendations”. In this area you can request users you know on LinkedIn to “recommend” you. Recommendations can be from past employers, volunteer leaders, academic tutors, lecturers etc. It’s similar to a reference that potential employers would request before giving you a job. Having recommendations on your LinkedIn profile improves your presence to employers and allows them to see what you were like in previous roles.
7) Share your work
A relatively new addition to LinkedIn is the section of your profile where you can upload work you have completed. This is just another way to really sell yourself to potential employers. Here you can upload a report you have completed or attach a link to a piece of work you have had published. – or even art work you have created. If you are able to do this it will really enhance your LinkedIn profile.
Another reason to be on LinkedIn is for the endorsements. On a regular CV you would add your key skills, but an employer has to take your word for it as to whether you do actually have these abilities. On LinkedIn you can select a list of skills you have, for example; “Customer Service” or “Teamwork”. Instead of them just being a list of skills, your connections on LinkedIn can endorse them. So if your boss at Primark knows you have good customer service skills he can publicly endorse you.
9) Research Potential Employers
There are thousands of employers and big companies on LinkedIn, and another plus of the social networking site is that you can research these companies. When gaining a job interview or researching an industry, you can utilise LinkedIn to find out more about your potential employers. For example, you can find out when they were founded, how many offices they have, how many people they employ etc. This can be highly beneficial when preparing for interview and it saves a lot of time in the long run.
10) Email Signature
Finally, another sometimes overlooked reason to be on LinkedIn is that you can add your LinkedIn profile address to your email signature. This looks really professional when applying for jobs or placements and it also allows the employer to immediately learn more about you.
Do you use LinkedIn? Have you found it useful and do you have any tips? Let us know!
– Kirsty 🙂