7 Ways Students Should Use LinkedIn

Think LinkedIn is Just for Established Professionals? Think Again.

By Amanda Miller Littlejohn | Follow Amanda on Twitter @amandamogul

Every time the semesters change, I get emails, phone calls and snail mail from prospective interns and junior employees who say they want to work in PR. But invariably when I take a look at the attached resumes, I am always a bit disappointed.

To me, a resume without links to relevant online profiles seems strangely empty. A candidate without a blog? I don’t understand. No Twitter account, no LinkedIn profile? Le sigh.

Back when I sent out resumes to get my first internships and entry level jobs, I would include my apartment address and phone number at the top. But that was years ago, and it’s just not enough anymore.

I am shocked by how many students have failed to establish a professional online presence. Employers want to pre-qualify each candidate, and with the availability of online information out there, even if you don’t share your online profiles, they’re going to do a search for your name anyway to see what pops up. So why not point them in the right direction by proactively establishing a professional online presence that you can confidently include in your resume and/or cover letter?  And in the professional world, your online presence starts with LinkedIn.

You don’t have to have a job to have a LinkedIn profile. But having a LinkedIn profile can definitely help you get a job.

Here are 7 Ways Students Should be Using LinkedIn

1. Showcase Your  Internships and Volunteer Work-If you haven’t yet had an internship, begin volunteering to show that you have responsibility, motivation, drive and passion for a cause. Not too many organizations will turn down a young, hungry volunteer. Work your way up to internships in your field of study, or if you’re still figuring out what you want to do, try lots of different types of internships to get yourself out there. Once you’ve volunteered and/or interned, list that on your profile. But be sure to show how and where you added value. Did you increase efficiency, event attendance or  customer sales? If so, say it.

2. Get Recommended-Request recommendations from your Professors- Many people think that you can only get the coveted recommendations from an employer.  Not true! You can get recommendations from anyone who knows the quality of your work and can attest to your professionalism. Professors are great to do this. Who better would know whether you’re a slacker or the next big thing? Note: No one is obligated to recommend you on LinkedIn, and you may want to ask beforehand if your professor would feel comfortable recommending you. And only ask your professor if you know you’ve done a great job in the classroom.

3. Contribute Find the “Answers” section of LinkedIn and offer up a thoughtful question or a really great answer. Also check out the groups. If you’re in PR, join a few of the PR groups and contribute. Find groups of professionals in your city; join groups of non-profit  professionals or small business owners in your town. Find groups by:

  • School or College-Alumni Groups (Even some high schools have alumni groups!)
  • Location-where you live (Washington, DC or Philadelphia Professionals)
  • Your Profession or Future Profession (i.e. PR, Marketing, Law)
  • Your Desired Industry (i.e. If you want to work in Fashion PR, join a Fashion Professionals Group)

Don’t be afraid to jump in on the conversation. Sometimes students have the most valuable perspective.

4. Update, Update, Update. Update your status a few times per week. Use this space to let everyone know what you’re doing. You can also use this space to point your connections to a great article you’ve read, or better yet, to a recent article or blog post that you’ve written. Note: I’m a big advocate of students writing their own blogs.

5. Don’t Skip the Summary. Try your hand at writing an amazing bio to fit in this space. As you get more career experience and learn more about what you want to do with your career, you’ll fill this section out. But try to use up as much of the character allotment that you can. For more tips on crafting a great bio, check out How to Write a Professional Bio featuring Dan Schwabel.

6. Remember Linkedin is not Facebook. Keep the nicknames and party pictures off of there. Use a nice headshot and a professional headline. Try to keep it as serious as possible.

7. Use LinkedIn to Research Your Potential Employer.Remember, online research goes both ways! You can use LinkedIn to find out more about your future employer-who works there, who used to worked there, etc. You can find out if any of your connections are connected to those people and request an introduction. Or, you can send a direct message to someone to ask for a coffee date or informational interview.

Want to connect? Find me on LinkedIn-but be sure to mention this blog post so I’ll know how I know you :) My Linkedin Profile.

Bonus-Once you set up your LinkedIn profile, you can easily pull a traditional resume from it whenever you need to.

Still not convinced ? Here’s a great introductory video to LinkedIn…

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