In part one of this series, we talked about different ways of using Twitter to enhance your social media platform as recent college graduates. We talked about how job searching in the 21st Century is a little different than it used to be… No kidding. So guess what else you need to be doing? Creating, updating, and making the most of your LinkedIn profile.
If you’re already on LinkedIn, then you’re a step ahead of a lot of people. It’s almost impossible to hear career advice these days without being told to join LinkedIn. So what exactly is it? It’s a professional networking site that allows you to connect with thousands of professionals, follow companies, network, and apply for jobs. So why aren’t more of us using it? Well, I’ve heard a lot of my friends say that they’ve set up the basic profile, but don’t know what to do next. Here’s what I would suggest:
1. Set up your personal profile. Add as much information as possible to create a complete profile. This includes adding a professional picture of yourself, skills, education, previous experience, and a professional summary. It took me awhile to add my own summary, but trust me, it’s important. If you’re job hunting, you should include that obtaining a ______ position is your goal. It’s the first thing people will read, so make it count.
2. Connect with Alumni, Colleagues, and people you may know. Once you’ve added your education and work experience, you will have the option to “add connections” via these options. So do it. When connecting with friends and people you know, there’s no need to send a personalized message. But if you’re connecting with supervisors, professors, etc., you might as well get a head start on #3.
3. Ask for recommendations. Supervisors and employers know that LinkedIn is a professional networking site. So when you send them a personalized message (do not just send the “Can you endorse me?” awkward message), they’ll more than likely be happy to do it, and won’t feel like it’s out of place at all. Having recommendations below some of your past positions makes your profile that much more impressive.
4. Follow companies. After you’ve connected with friends, alumni, co-workers, and other people that you may know, it’s time to follow companies. Is there a company that you’re really interested in working for one day? Follow it. Is there a company that you want to stay up to date with for job postings? Follow it. Not only does it show interest by following the company, but it allows access to job postings, updates, and changes in the business as well.
5. Connect to those who work for these companies with and only with a personal message. It’s not awkward. It’s what LinkedIn is for! Introduce yourself and say that you’re interested in this company. Ask for advice and about their own career path. But PLEASE don’t send an invitation to connect with someone that you don’t know without a sending a personalized message. Simply building connections is not networking. Introduce yourself! Building relationships is what networking is all about.
6. Search for jobs. There’s a whole tab in the top menu dedicated to jobs. The beauty of LinkedIn is that once you search and apply for one job, it recommends similar jobs for you to view. Is the position at a company that you’ve never heard of before? Look it up and follow it. Connect with the HR Manager, or even the director of a particular department. There’s no harm in introducing yourself and letting them know that you just applied for _____ position.
7. Use the Recent Grad tools. Under jobs, there’s a link for Students and Recent Grads. This allows you to search for most entry-level positions that are posted on the site. Pick your industry and start applying!
8. Continually update! So you’ve been doing steps #1-7 without much success. Don’t give up! We all know that it’s a tough market out there. Keep your profile up-to-date and continually search for new connections. Haven’t joined a group yet? Start joining groups that you’re interested in and check out the discussion boards. There’s more than likely a group created for people just like you who are discussing and offering advice to one another. Hint: Being in the same group as someone else is a way to connect with someone outside of your 1st degree connections. Once you start spending more and more time on LinkedIn, you’ll pick up on all the tricks. You may even start updating your status and connecting your profile to Twitter!