Given the constant presence of social media in the lives of young adults, it’s a wonder LinkedIn isn’t exploited more by college students. Despite having more than 200 million users worldwide, students are not utilizing the resources oriented flawlessly for those seeking to develop & nurture their own career goals. College students, in general, are expected to be “ripe for picking” as soon as they graduate-and LinkedIn gives them an opportunity to manage the right tools to be valuable when they do.
Though students and college graduates are the fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn, they should be doing a lot more to demonstrate distinct qualities companies seek. Because LinkedIn is a platform directed solely toward assisting individuals with their professional potential-LinkedIn provides students with resources to find opportunities. Using LinkedIn, students are able to network without having to find uplines to companies that may not be accessible otherwise (like Fortune 500 companies).
Most importantly all students should be concentrating their energy on building a respectable LinkedIn profile, though it may seem unnecessary to state, they should demonstrate their competency as well as their likability. LinkedIn profiles should be aesthetic, uncluttered, concise, and demonstrate worth and attentiveness. A profile picture and use of words may already do some considerable work. A picture will give the first inkling of how one presents himself/herself, as well give a human aspect to sheer information. Similarly, words that catch attention can complement content because choice of words can demonstrate personality traits; terse, clear keywords will show that one can get something across quickly and effectively. Perspective employers may see many students’ profiles/resumes in passing and if they don’t successfully catch attention, many college students may be overlooked.
Networking is definitely something that all college students should be doing on LinkedIn- of all the things that contribute most to job placement, networking will propel college students the furthest. Modestly staying in touch with people on LinkedIn is enough to be beneficial because those who are interested in the same field can shoot a recommendation and those who are not may simply pass along an opportunity that doesn’t apply to them but may be useful to someone else. Industry leaders too, are within reach-their social presence should be seen as an incredible and accessible resource. Reaching out to companies will demonstrate both confidence and interest, but students should be gutsy, not cocky. Most people agree that self-assuredness is important in professional areas of life but being too pushy will also turn people off. When reaching out, students should make sure to personalize the connection-the reason for contacting that company should be genuine interest, not an appeal for a job.
Every college student should be getting recommendations because it’s simply a great way to display reliability and that their skills are recognized. College students with more recommendations increase their likelihood of attracting attention; recommendations are a great way to boost professional popularity/employability. Likewise, college students should show curiosity; perspective employers want to see real awareness of the industry that goes beyond what any employee might say. The best way for college students to achieve this is to comment on industry specific articles, which can demonstrate they have something of value to contribute regardless of if they work for the company or not. A simple, interesting comment or question may spark something, a conversation, a connection or just a further investigation of a profile.
The last thing that college students should definitely be doing on LinkedIn is making their information on LinkedIn available for search engines to index, this way the first thing attached to a college student’s name in cyberspace is a professional description, not a Facebook update. Employers are actively keeping track of professionally oriented websites-social professional networks are the fastest growing source of quality hires college students should continually nourish their LinkedIn accounts in order to capitalize on their career goals.
About the author: Mariya Rakutko is a junior at the University of Colorado and a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.
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