Linkedin Tips for College Students
If you’re like most college students or recent graduates, you’ve spent plenty of time on social networking sites. While exploring the many online social networks, you’ve probably heard about LinkedIn, and may be wondering what it can do, and whether or not you should add it to your social networking activities.
Should College Students and Recent Grads Use LinkedIn?
The answer is an unqualified “yes.” LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you make the transition from college student to working professional. While Facebook helps you stay in touch and share your life with family and friends, LinkedIn helps you meet people in your field, connect professionally with fellow alumni, and create a personal brand. LinkedIn is a must for anyone who is serious about job hunting, career planning and networking with people who can assist you as you build a successful professional life.
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Follow these helpful LinkedIn tips for college grads, and you’ll be connecting and networking in no time.
Four Useful LinkedIn Features for College Grads
LinkedIn’s interface is easy to navigate. If you’ve done any social networking, familiarizing yourself with its features should only take a few minutes. Here’s a short list of what you can do and learn on LinkedIn:
1. Leverage the LinkedIn Network: LinkedIn’s massive user list (100 million plus) is one of its biggest assets. When you start with LinkedIn, you might have two connections – or you might have 100. But you have access to a network of thousands – you’re just separated by a degree or two. 2nd degree users are the friends of your friends. The 3rd degree level includes all the people whose friends know your friends, and can number in the millions. Growing your network through your connections is easy.
2. Use Introductions to Grow Your Connections: LinkedIn’s introductions feature can help build your network or find a contact at a firm you’re interested in. You can see the connections between you and the person you want to meet, and then use the introduction form to request an introduction. Your connection will decide whether or not to pass it along. No pressure, and no awkward “ask.”
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3. Apply For a Job: LinkedIn posts content of interest – including job openings – on your home page. While LinkedIn is not solely a job board, plenty of job hunting and hiring is taking place. Click on a job description and view the company profile, see who works at the firm and view the job poster’s profile. See if you’re connected, or request an introduction. Or, apply for the job by uploading a cover letter and resume. With LinkedIn, you can deliver your credentials right into the job poster’s hands.
4. Join a Group: Networking through LinkedIn groups is a quick and easy way to meet people without requesting an introduction. Groups are formed around industries, college affiliations, clubs and associations; based on your profile, LinkedIn will suggest groups for you. So join in, participate in discussions and you’ll soon feel comfortable asking for career advice or help with your job search.
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Five Tips to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Work Harder
Creating your profile is the first thing you’ll do on LinkedIn – and it’s important to do it right. Fortunately, creating a strong profile is easy, using these tips:
1. Be Thorough: Don’t skimp on the details. Fill out your profile completely. Include all pertinent employment, internships and volunteer jobs. Use keywords that describe your major, career goals and interests. Focus on the value you bring to a potential employer, and avoid the hard sell.
2. Look Like a Professional: Use a professional headshot if possible. Avoid using group shots or photos that include pets or significant others. View a number of profiles within your industry to see what’s acceptable.
3. Act Like a Professional: Use full sentences, proper grammar and appropriate punctuation. That means no slang and no exclamation points. Again, look around at other profiles to get a feel for what’s acceptable. If you’re in doubt, check proper usage on a respectable grammar website.
4. Be Personable: A professional presentation is important on LinkedIn, but don’t leave your personality behind. Remember, LinkedIn is a social network; creating personal connections is the goal, and it’s easier when you help people get to know you.
5. Ask For Recommendations: Recommendations add instant credibility. Ask college professors and past employers to recommend you through the LinkedIn interface. A good goal is three or more recommendations, each highlighting a different skill.
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LinkedIn is Ideal for College Students and Grads
If you’re a recent college grad, or close to becoming one, you’ll need plenty of support when job hunting, career planning and starting your professional life. As these LinkedIn tips show, LinkedIn is an easy way to meet new people, network with others in your field and promote yourself as a polished professional. Joining LinkedIn could be your first step to a new job and a solid launch of your career.