“What are you going to do after you graduate?” This is a question that many college students dread. Finding a job post-graduation is stressful and can be daunting. But what if I told you it didn’t have to be that way? What if I told you how to successfully utilize the greatest professional network in the world? What if you knew you could do it all in your pajamas while watching “Stranger Things?” Well, you can. Welcome to LinkedIn.
While many millennials have a LinkedIn account, very few fully understand its value. I asked a few millennials if they understood why LinkedIn was so important.
“It’s so that people see that you do cool stuff and want to hire you,” said Blake Johnson, a junior studying at Brigham Young University (BYU). However, when I asked Blake if he had an account he gave me a side smile and said, “No,” with a shrug.
Blake’s brother, Mitchell Johnson, a freshman at BYU, says he has an account, but would be embarrassed if an employer read it. When I asked Mitchell why he thinks LinkedIn is valuable he looked at me quizzically and said, “Because it gives you connections?” So true, Mitchell, but that’s only the beginning.
Colton Griffiths, a career counselor at BYU Career Services, told me that the most common question he gets about LinkedIn is, “What is LinkedIn?” and “Is it like Facebook for business?” “But,” Griffiths responded, “it’s really not. It’s a networking tool.”
Griffiths shared two main perks he thinks students should know about LinkedIn:
- Connecting with Employers
Something many students don’t know is that LinkedIn actually has a backside designed specifically for recruiters. Companies pay big money for the ability to search through and contact potential employees.
“Every single word that you put in your profile is searchable,” Griffiths said.
Once employers identify potential candidates, they have the ability to contact directly using InMail™ or any other contact info your profile provides.
- Alumni Network
LinkedIn is working hard with big universities to promote their alumni base. This alumni base can be extremely valuable to students because it provides a feeling of comradery between you and a professional who you want to talk to, all because of a common institution. You are free to search through hundreds of thousands of alumni by location, field, company, skill set, major, etc.
“The best place to start if you want to work for a company but you don’t know anybody who works there is to check if there are any alumni on LinkedIn, because they have [an] instant connection with you,” Griffiths commented. It’s that instant connection that will get them to open up and share with you valuable tidbits about their experience at a particular company or within an industry or field.
“LinkedIn is awesome,” raved Griffiths. “It really is the future of recruiting, the future of networking and the future of alumni relations. And it’s going to be even more important as we move forward.”
As you move forward, here are some helpful tips Griffiths said to keep in mind about your LinkedIn profile. These will help you get noticed by potential employers and taken seriously by those you reach out to:
Have a Good Picture
Your LinkedIn photo should be professional, only include you and be taken specifically for LinkedIn or a professional purpose. Many students make the mistake of using cropped wedding photos, group pictures or pictures from a distance as their profile photos. While those pictures may work great for Facebook, they should stay on Facebook. You don’t have to pay a lot of money for a professional photo-shoot either! Here’s my LinkedIn photo, which my friend took with his phone one day after class:
LinkedIn Profile ≠ Online Resume
If all you do is upload your resume to LinkedIn without taking advantage of the opportunity to add a narrative, skill set, endorsements, attachments, etc. then LinkedIn is essentially useless to a recruiter. Your LinkedIn profile is an easy way for a recruiter to get a glimpse into the real you, it should be an interactive extension to your resume. If you mention a report you wrote for a particular experience, attach the report. If you have a blog about one of your passions, link to it. If you designed a flier for your company and you’re really proud of it, attach it! And don’t be afraid to ditch the bullet points for your LinkedIn profile either, be detailed and tell the story.
LinkedIn is really an avenue for professional expression. Always keep in mind your industry of interest, but remember that LinkedIn is a place where employers are going to come to get to know you. Attach videos, links and documents that give insight to your personality. Use an appropriate amount of voice when retelling experiences. Add in little details that show your hobbies and interests. This is what employers are looking for on LinkedIn, so do it!
LinkedIn is quickly becoming a critical tool when connecting with employers. If used correctly it could actually be the bridge between you and your dream career. Inspired yet? Next time you’re screen says, “Next episode of “Stranger Things” will play automatically in 15, 14, 13…” hit pause and take 20 minutes to spruce up your LinkedIn profile, it might just land you the job!
My name is Kayla Ellis, I’m a Senior studying PR at BYU. I’m currently the Marketing Assistant for BYU Career Services where I work with the Events Coordinator to initiate and carry out projects and campaigns for the office. Working here has given me a real passion for professional development and business casual attire. I hope to intern in Seattle next summer before starting my full-time employment. I seek to influence people, help people, and create things in all of my personal and professional endeavors. Eventually I can see myself owning a non-profit or business along those lines. I could also see myself as “The New Oprah.” Outside of my scholastic and professional life I like to rock climb (but only inside) and to read (mostly self-help, Harry Potter, and C.S. Lewis). However, my main hobby is eating and I have a food blog to prove it.