LinkedIn, what some might call “professional Facebook,” is the world’s largest professional social network. It is used widely by recruiters, hiring managers, and professionals in hundreds of industries to find qualified candidates for open positions, including students like you. With hundreds of millions of members on the network, LinkedIn allows a user to:
LinkedIn has often been referred to as “your resume online.” This assertion is not far off, as there are many similarities between a LinkedIn Profile and a resume. As such, some of the points covered here may sound like the advice we give about resume writing. However, where there are differences in the two is where it is critical to pay attention.
At the top of a LinkedIn Profile is a small box containing some of what you can consider the “fast facts” about each user. Since this box is likely the first thing that another LinkedIn user would see when landing on your Profile, this box is incredibly important real estate. Here are some tips to make the most of it:
Below the box on a LinkedIn Profile are various sections, many of which mirror what might exist on a resume. There are several options to categorize your experiences and skills in Profiles, including:
Throughout a Profile, no matter what the section, it is important to consider keywords and phrases relevant to your desired industry and goals, again, because of considerations for searches on LinkedIn. Many of the sections above are self-explanatory, however there are a few specific tips for you to consider in some of these areas:
Creating a strong Profile on LinkedIn is only the first step in turning this network into an ongoing professional resource for you. The next step is to start connecting and communicating with others users about professional interests. Being active on LinkedIn is a critical step to getting recognized, learning about a field of interest, and establishing an online identity.
Connecting with Others on LinkedIn
LinkedIn recommends that users connect with only those whom they know and trust. This is a good suggestion for you when you’re starting out on the social network. Here are a few suggestions of types of people who may be good to connect with:
Any of these people could be great references and connections on LinkedIn. What’s more, LinkedIn helps you see the connections of all of their connections, thus enabling you to understand who of their trusted contacts can introduce you to someone at an organization of interest. A good rule of thumb to follow is to consider connecting with at least 50 people on LinkedIn to make the network’s web of connections work well for you.
One very powerful tool on LinkedIn which can help you find connections is called LinkedIn Alumni. This page can be found at www.linkedin.com/alumni and looks like this:
With this tool, you can search information about Villanova alumni on LinkedIn all around the world. You can search the alumni by any keyword or by the predetermined categories on LinkedIn, which include the following:
It should be noted that when connecting with others on LinkedIn, you will be prompted to note how you know the other person, as seen in the screenshot below. There is also the option to include a personalized note along with the connection request, a message which the person will be able to see on the other end. It is essential to customize this message. A customized message request is like writing a thank you note after an interview – it is critical to be known as a polite professional. The message cannot be long, but including a sentence or two about how you know the person or what you hope to learn from the person will go a long way in facilitating the connection.
The next step after making Connections is to consider a plan for communicating on LinkedIn. One place to begin is with a status update – a place where each user can share thoughts, questions, or ideas with those who are in their network.
Here are a few ideas you can consider sharing as a status update:
It’s a good idea to share statuses often, as these statuses will appear in the feeds of other users on LinkedIn with whom you are connected. You can also comment on or like the status messages of others in your networks on LinkedIn. This could be a great way to engage with professionals and learn about trending topics of interest. In addition, LinkedIn has a feature called “LinkedIn Today” which allows you to follow stories from around the web and from influencers whom LinkedIn has asked to write articles about ideas critical to their fields.
LinkedIn Today is customizable area where users can find trending stories in specific industries, which may be great to share as Status Updates as well. You can customize this area for fields relevant to you by clicking on the blue words “LinkedIn Today” at the top of the feature. On the next page, near the top and on the right-hand side, click on “All Channels” and “All Influencers” to search each of LinkedIn Today’s Channel options and Influencers to get updates of interest delivered to your LinkedIn home page.
One of the richest resources on LinkedIn comes from its members; the millions of people around the world who share ideas and information. This often happens inside LinkedIn Groups – communities of people who come together based on a specific affiliation, interest, profession, identity and many more. There are millions of groups on LinkedIn, so there’s a good chance that a community exists where you can jump in and learn quite quickly.
With millions of groups, your first question might be: where do I begin? Our first suggestion for you is to search for “Villanova” groups. The “Official Villanova University Network” is a group which all students & alumni can join and is kept up to date by the university. We strongly encourage you to join this group. Within that group is a subgroup called “VU Alumni and Student Mentoring” which would be another great group to join. Here, students and alumni of Villanova are sharing career advice and opportunities that may help you land an internship or job.
Another suggestion for groups is to find people you know and admire professionally on LinkedIn, then take a scan of that individual’s group memberships on LinkedIn. This can be seen at the bottom of a person’s LinkedIn Profile, provided that the individual allows group memberships to be publicly viewed. Consider joining some of the groups that person is in to learn more about what’s going on in those communities.
Finally, there is the Search feature on LinkedIn, which allows users to search everything on LinkedIn by keyword, including Groups. It’s a good idea to find groups relevant to your professional interests as well as groups that match other affiliations or identities you have had in the past or currently have, such as community organizations, honors societies, or volunteer groups you’ve joined.
Once inside a Group, there are plenty of professional development opportunities and ideas to go around. Here’s a walkthrough of what it looks like inside a Group.
a. Your job or internship search (i.e. “_________ student seeking advice about securing an internship in __________ industry”)
b. A question about a specific idea or topic in a field of interest
c. An article of interest. It would be good to add your own commentary or thoughts on the article in order to communicate your point of view.
It is also worth noting that LinkedIn allows you to see “Group Statistics” – information about how active the group is, where most group members are geographically based, what level of seniority they have in their organizations, and more. It would be wise to investigate the statistics before and after joining groups to help understand whom you will be communicating with while a member of a group.
As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn is home to not only people and conversations, but job and internship listings. There are several ways to explore these opportunities and specific features of LinkedIn that enable you to go beyond viewing a traditional position description.
Searching for Companies
One of LinkedIn’s greatest assets for any job seeker is the ability to view employment-specific information about an organization on what are called “Company Pages.” These are landing pages on LinkedIn which are created and maintained by individuals whom have a LinkedIn Profile and work for the company. There are millions of them. Company Pages contain information like: a brief overview of the organization, a listing of products and/or services the company provides, job and internship opportunities currently available, a listing of recent promotions, ideas about similar companies, the skills most often cited in Profiles by those who work there, and a place to explore “Who You Know” at the organization based on your LinkedIn network.
Let’s take a look at a specific Company Page to explore what you can do there. For example, if you are definitely interested in opportunities at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, you can type in the company name into the search box and select the company when it appears in search results.
What if you are not sure about specific companies of interest? Or what if you are considering a variety of fields or majors? A great recommendation here is to conduct a “Company Search” and filter by specific options. Here’s a look at the Company Search page and some ideas to help you explore it:
Searching for Jobs & Internships
Beyond searching for companies, you also have the ability to search jobs and internships posted by people and organizations. LinkedIn has created the “Student Jobs Portal” (located at linkedin.com/studentjobs) which specifically filters job postings that would be appropriate for you. This is a great place to help your get started in your internship or job search.
Within the Advanced Search page, you can also target job and internship listings relevant to you. Let’s take a look at this page and some suggestions for searching.
Job searching on LinkedIn allows you to go beyond the traditional job listing because each post is tied back to a Company Page and the individual Profile of the recruiter or hiring manager who posted the job. Here’s how that looks.
There’s little doubt anymore that LinkedIn has given job seekers access to more information about jobs and internships, the companies who offer them, and the people who make up those organizations. Using this network, you have unique ways to make connections with information and opportunities that can lead to satisfying career paths. Consider LinkedIn no matter where you are in their career development. Whether you are trying to identify the possibilities of an academic major or you have very specific interests, you can benefit from the world’s largest professional network.
For more on LinkedIn and help with your Profile, visit the Career Center and talk with a Career Assistant or Career Counselor. We look forward to talking with you about all the ways you can make the most of LinkedIn.
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Throughout the year, The Career Center offers a wide variety of workshops for students to Explore various options - Resume Writing, Interviewing Skills, Graduate School application process, How to Land a Job or Internship and Networking Skills. View the Workshops Schedule for this semester.