by Meghan Rimol
More than ever, recruiters and employers are looking to social media during the hiring process, both to find potential job candidates and evaluate those who have applied. In particular, LinkedIn has quickly become one of the most highly utilized social media sites for employers to research candidates for jobs and internships.
With over 39 million college students and recent graduates on the site, it’s no wonder that employers are seeking out young talent online. However, the increasing number of students creating LinkedIn profiles means that students must work harder to compete with their peers to be noticed by employers. It’s not enough just to have a profile on the site—it’s crucial to represent yourself in a way that will stand out.
More than an online resume
Although the main focus of this social network is your job experience and skills, it is important to recognize that LinkedIn is not simply an online copy of your resume. There is more room to flesh out your job descriptions and include your volunteer interests, causes that you care about, organizations that you are involved in, honors and awards, courses you have taken and more.
Make sure that you take advantage of this by filling out all the sections of your profile. Showcase your work by including links or uploads of projects that you have completed. Unlike your resume, your LinkedIn profile is not crammed for space, so don’t be afraid to include positions or interests that reveal more of your personality than your professional skillset.
A strong profile is only effective if your employers actually see it—so be sure to make connections! Connect with family and friends, co-workers, employers, professors, classmates and anyone else that could serve as a professional asset. After attending a job fair, speaker or networking event, send out invitations to connect with those that you met. Personalize your invitation so that those you are connecting with remember who you are and are more inclined to accept.
Additionally, take advantage of those in your network who can provide you with endorsements or recommendations. Ask a former employer to write you a recommendation, and endorse others in your network whose skills you can vouch for.
Finally, find and join relevant groups, such as those from your college or university, industry, organizations or associations. These groups are a great way to connect with those you may not know personally, but who have a shared interest or background and can help you find jobs or network with potential employers.
What use is a LinkedIn profile if you don’t actually use it? Make it a goal to log on once a week and check out what’s going on in your network. Join in on a group discussion or comment on updates from your connections. Follow companies or people that you admire and read what they’re posting. If you find an article or site that interests you and is relevant to your industry, post it for your followers to see.
By taking advantage of all of the capabilities of LinkedIn, this social network can be a great way for students to make connections that can serve them well in the search for jobs and internships—throughout college and beyond.
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