For many college students and young professionals the world of LinkedIn is a mystery. The most common description is, “Oh, it’s like Facebook for the business world”. Although that may be true LinkedIn has so much more to offer in the realm of networking and job searches than Facebook ever did.
So you’ve chosen a professional picture and uploaded your resume. Now what? Many LinkedIn users do not get past this phase, leaving them with essentially an online version of the resume they already pass out to potential employers. There’s no need for professionals to see what you have already shown them reflected back on a computer screen, so it is time to explore the hidden tools of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn now offers a skills section, where users cannot only choose from a never ending list of positive qualities employers look for in potential candidates, but also various relevant computer programs and language skills. Users can even see what skills are trending in the market place, and therefore can perfect those qualities to make themselves more marketable. What’s more, you can also receive endorsements from friends, colleges and former employers on these skills, giving a profile more validity.
Don’t stop at adding skills to your page. LinkedIn also offers the new feature of linking projects or publications to your page. Do you have a killer portfolio website or have you worked for an impressive online magazine? Add it to your profile to let employers see a sample of your work. Even personal blogs can demonstrate your writing skills and sense of expertise in a subject manner and can easily be added. It is even possible to blog through LinkedIn making it effortless to share with your followers and network.
Have you taken an exclusive class or entered a prestigious organization in your field? Show it off as well on your LinkedIn page. The courses and organizations are validated through the website and will show up right on your profile.
After entering in all these components you can refer to the progress bar, which rates the strength of your profile. Are you now a LinkedIn All-Star? If so share that profile on all your other social media outlets!
Now that you have demonstrated your skills and attributes to the LinkedIn community it is time to build a network. It is a no brainer to instantly add people you meet through business fairs, classes and internship or job interviews but it is possible to connect with so many more. Adding a LinkedIn address to a resume or profile is a hot trend in the job market, because employers instantly have access to a resume, which is constantly updated, an endorsed skill set and another means to communicate with you. You can also search for new connections by university or reach out to an employer or intern coordinator through the messenger feature.
Another way to expand your network is to join groups involving many of your organizations. Often you membership in the organization must be verified to enter the group, however, once in you have access to hundreds of other users, many with extensive networks and experience who share a common thread with you and are more than willing to help out.
So take an afternoon and update your profile. Explore these little known tools and use them to your advantage on your next internship or job hunt!
This blog post was written by Laura Straub, our Campus Ambassador from Ohio University in Athens.