It’s never too early to start building your digital footprint. I believe that college students should make a point to begin their building their own online profiles, and one of the easiest ways to do that is via LinkedIn. Jordan Friedman, a student at Emory University and contributor to Huffington Post’s college channel, asked me some questions for his post about the topic.
Should college students use LinkedIn?
Here is some of the advice I shared with him:
I absolutely recommend that college students begin to build a LinkedIn profile. Why?
– Doing so helps students begin to picture their experience as it appears to other people.
– LinkedIn facilitates networking in a way that is perfect for college students who might otherwise lose track of people who would be willing to help them out down the road. By connecting with fellow classmates, bosses and faculty members, students will have a head start when it is time to look for job opportunities. Keeping this network in a purely professional setting helps make sure you can confidently connect with professional contacts, as compared to Facebook, where you may prefer to keep your network to close friends.
Whether or not you have an online networking doesn’t depend on your field of study. Every college student, regardless of field, can benefit from maintaining a LinkedIn presence, but if you’re in PR, journalism or marketing (for example), consider it even MORE important for your future career.
In response to the question, “Do people really look at LinkedIn when they hire,” the answer is clear. Jobvite’s survey found, “LinkedIn continues to be a dominant recruiting network, used by 93% of respondents (compared to 87% in 2011 and 78% in 2010). 89% of respondents have hired from LinkedIn.”
Employers like to see certain things when they look you up online, according to Jobvite:
80% of employers reacted positively to seeing memberships to professional organizations, while 2/3 like to see volunteering or donating to a nonprofit.
Worse than drinking, grammar or spelling mistakes on social profiles saw a 54% negative reaction.
However, recruiters and hiring managers tend to be neutral in their reactions to political opinions (62% neutral) and religious posts (53% neutral).
Students can use LinkedIn to their full advantage by:
- Creating complete profiles and filling out the categories LinkedIn created to cater to students, such as coursework, for example.
- Optimizing their profiles by including keywords. (Words people will use to search for you.)
- Asking for recommendations from professors and supervisors to appear in LinkedIn profiles.
- Incorporating a skills section so people can endorse you as you collect skills you need along the way.
- Engaging in active groups, and updating your profile in LinkedIn with useful information related to your professional interests.
Students should not underestimate any contact. Be aware that when you use LinkedIn, you start to build you online digital footprint — what people will find when they Google your name.
LinkedIn is a great way to find and identify people who may be able to influence your career. There are many search features that help you narrow down information that can be very useful, such as what companies use what skills. There is a wealth of information at every student’s fingertips!
photo by TheSeafarer