Throughout the day, most of you will snap, tweet, post, tag, filter and share a lot of information. It is estimated that over 90% of young adults use social media. However, for the majority of you, none of these casual ways of sharing content is going to help you land your dream job.
Lucky for you there happens to be a social media platform that can help you network your way to career bliss. Did you know an estimated 85% of jobs today are found through networking? And while LinkedIn may not have all the addicting filters and features of SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook, it is the single most important social media tool you should be using as a college student. It is time to stop ignoring that blue and white logo, and give some long overdue attention to the more professional and polished side of social media.
Hi, my name is Lindsey Seaby, and I’m the Assistant Director for Student Services and Academic Outreach in The Career and Internship Center CISC) here at Shady Grove. Before coming to USG, I was a recruiting manager for a large marketing company where it was my job to select, interview and hire over 200 entry-level positions each year, and my company relied heavily on LinkedIn for finding qualified candidates. So I strongly encourage you to use LinkedIn as a tool and an advantage for your career. Here are three simple ways LinkedIn can help you network your way to your dream job or internship:
1. Make it easy for recruiters to find you
You can’t find something that doesn’t exist.
A recent survey from Jobvite found that 93% of job recruiters tap into LinkedIn to find qualified candidates, up from 87% last year. Simply put, recruiters and HR Professionals live on LinkedIn. As a former Recruiting Manager, one of the first things I did when reviewing applications was to review the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. When I was searching for student intern candidates, I looked at the student’s profile as well. Some recruiters even prefer to build their talent pipelines exclusively through using LinkedIn to find both passive and active job seekers to reach out to about job opportunities.
So, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, how will a recruiter find you? It is certainly going to make getting on their radar more difficult and consider your competition – the 40 million other students and young graduates out there. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out directly to a recruiter on LinkedIn. One strategy is to first apply to a position you want and then send a well-written, professional message to the recruiter who posted the opportunity. Many recruiters have to interview a certain number of candidates per job posting, so why not do them a favor and proactively engage them? LinkedIn provides you with a unique opportunity to be the one to reach out and request a phone call to discuss why you think you are qualified. Think smarter, not harder!
2. Connect with alumni that can help you reach your career goals
Turn relationships into opportunities.
One easy way to find people who you will immediately have something in common with is using the alumni finder. The alumni finder will search LinkedIn for anyone who has attended the same university you have listed on your profile. You can then use LinkedIn’s visual tools to narrow it down to alumni who are working in specific locations and occupations. Even if you have no LinkedIn connections to them, you will probably find their e-mail address. Reach out to them! The worst thing that can happen is they don’t reply, in which case, find someone else to reach out to. I cannot stress enough that this is the EASIEST way to connect with working professionals. You have a go-to starter for conversation — your school experiences! People are very nostalgic about their time spent in college. Tap into that. Talk about all the exciting things going on at Shady Grove or on your home campus. Connect and engage with them, ask for advice and if you ask the right questions and prove to be a hardworking and eager to learn, you may even land yourself a mentor!
3. Find industry experts and leaders in your field to give you advice
Find the person that has the job that you want to have 10-15 years from now.
Everyone has a dream job. LinkedIn provides the platform for you to engage with the professionals that work at your dream company. As a student, even senior level professionals are very receptive to you reaching out and asking for advice on how to get ahead in your field. By connecting with the industry leaders, groups and companies that are leading the way, you will gain insight into how you can best prepare yourself now to be the most competitive candidate possible once graduation approaches. This past week, one of my students had a great experience through a LinkedIn informational interview assignment and I asked him to share his thoughts on this networking exercise:
“Networking to find a job can prove to be difficult. Through working with a career coach, as a part of a networking exercise, I reached out to professionals in my field on LinkedIn. Since my dream is to work at Nintendo, the place to start was reaching out to employees currently working there. I checked on LinkedIn, and connected with an employee at Nintendo. We scheduled a Skype interview, and he provided me with incredibly valuable information. He told me what steps I can take to get a job at Nintendo. That alone was a great start – I can now plan out the steps I will take to end up where he is someday.” – Joel Landry, Junior, University of Baltimore, Digital Entertainment & Simulation
Students can make individual appointments with the USG Career & Internship Services Center to review their LinkedIn Profile and discuss their digital networking strategy.
Mark your calendars! USG’s CISC will be hosting “LinkedIn Day” on Wednesday, April 5th where recruiters and industry experts will lead workshops on LinkedIn best practices and there will be a professional photographer on-site to take free professional headshots for your LinkedIn profile.