Your Link to LinkedIn

By: Lashauna Harris

Ok, so those of us who think that we are going to get a job simply by filling out an online application are in for a rude awakening. Only about 20% of open positions are actually posted on an online job board. What happens to the other 80%? Those positions are filled through networking and employee referrals. A real bummer isn’t it? All of the hours you spent slaving away on Monster and Indeed and in the end you find out that this method alone will not get you the job. On the other hand, what will benefit you in your job search is connecting with professionals in your field and building those relationships.  Network, network, network! We hear it all the time. Problem is networking takes time, time, time, something that many of us college students are in a shortage of. How do we network while maintaining our awfully busy schedules? Well, one way is to utilize LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social networking site. The company states on their website that as of February 9, 2012 the site has 150 million members in over 200 countries. So for those like us who have yet to start a career and build the necessary connections, LinkedIn is a great jump start to the process. It can be used in so many different capacities to aid you in navigating your professional relationships. Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Build your profile

The first step to using LinkedIn is creating your profile, which is essentially your online resume. You want to ensure that your profile comes up in searches and that your viewers get a full understanding of your abilities. To do this, include plenty of key words as well as descriptions of your work experience. Also, include a headshot in your profile and be sure it’s professional. Remember, what’s appropriate to share on other social networks may not be suitable for this one.

Connect and Join Groups

On Facebook you have friends, on Twitter there are followers, and on LinkedIn you have connections. The difference is that on LinkedIn, you don’t just invite anyone to connect with you. Start with people who you already have a relationship with such as family, friends, and coworkers. Regarding other professionals and recruiters, be sure to include a personal message in your invitation giving them a specific reason you want to connect. Groups are also a great way to build your network. Join groups that are related to your field of study or that are active in your local community.

Get Recommendations

Request for supervisors and other professionals who can vouch for your performance to write a recommendation for you. It will be a great addition to your profile.

What others do with it

Be aware that many recruiters use LinkedIn as a primary recruiting tool to search for candidates. Therefore, it is extremely important that your profile is 100% complete and that you remain active on the site and in your groups.

What you can do with it

LinkedIn is a great research tool to utilize during your job search. You can follow companies of interest and see which employees of that company are on linked as well. There are also job postings on the site. Sometimes, it will even show you who posted the position, which presents the perfect opportunity for you to reach out to them.

What you should take away from this is that LinkedIn is an essential part of your job search. If you’re not a part of the network, you need to be! Join today and start connecting to individuals and opportunities that can really have an impact on your job search.

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