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Why Students Should Be on LinkedIn Sooner Rather Than Later

posted by admin on September 9th, 2008

The moment you entered college, you were told you better get on Facebook toot sweet if you don’t want to become a lonely hermit with no friends. So you did & it’s been great. You’ve got the friends. (And the drunk photos & the Scrabble applications.) But now you’re thinking about life after college, that oblivion known as the real world, & Facebook is unlikely to help with that. If anything, your Facebook profile is a liability. You Google your name, your pics from spring break in Cancun come up.

This might be a good time to join LinkedIn. Contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn is not just for industry veterans who go to parties to network on cells phones, exchange business cards, & arrange power lunches. It’s actually a great tool for students as well. Here’s why:

1.) LinkedIn gets what will get you hired, not what will get you fired, on Google. LinkedIn is highly search optimized. If you have a profile, it will come up on the first page of your Google results, so if a potential employer Googles you, those Cancun pics aren’t the only things they have to judge you by.

2.) LinkedIn is your online resume, which means a.) it’s really easy to set up your profile because you already have all the information you on your paper resume, & b.) there’s more freedom to include all of your experience on LinkedIn, as they are all avenues to potential connections. You can even include internships & volunteer work. You never know what’s going to catch someone’s eye, or what they are searching for.

3.) LinkedIn is a harmless way to stay in touch. Ever leave a job or internship & you feel like you should keep reminding them who you are, just in case 5 years down the line, you need a reference from them? Shoot them an invite to connect. Most people think of it as harmless, since you’re supposed to connect to everyone you’ve ever worked with or know from school & they’re more likely to accept than if, for example, you tried to friend them on Facebook. Also, this way, you can also keep track of them & where they are now. You never know when they might go somewhere you also want to be.

4.) LinkedIn puts your awesome letter of recommendation out there for the world to see. LinkedIn lets you request recommendations from connections, which are displayed on your profile. So in addition to handing over your references, you can point potential employers toward your LinkedIn page. Or even link to your profile in your cover letters so potential employers can see your recommendations before they even ask for references.

5.) LinkedIn lets you job hunt while not really job hunting. It’s basically having your resume out there on the Internet for your dream employer to find, even if you’re still in school & not actively looking for a job quite yet. Passive job hunters also tend to be more valued by employers. More & more recruiters are looking for people like this online.

6.) LinkedIn makes you more connectable. LinkedIn shows not only your direct connections (i.e. “friends”) but also second & third degree connections (people who also know people you know). People are more likely to trust people who know people they know. You can also use this in reverse & get your connection to introduce you to one of their connections that you would like to know.

7.) LinkedIn lets you scout your heroes. Ever wanted to know how someone you admire got to where they are? Have a dream job you don’t know how to get? Check out people who have the job you want on LinkedIn. You can see what their education and experience is like, the path of their careers & what professional organizations they belong to. Get ideas for your own career.

8.) LinkedIn get answers to stuff you want to know. Want to know how much a IT technician makes? Wonder what exactly it is that a CFO does? LinkedIn Answers is a popular, relatively new feature that lets you propose questions to your network or even to all LinkedIn users. You can get a great variety of insightful answers this way.

9.) LinkedIn gives you context for people you know you’re going to meet. Research the people you’re going to be interviewed by. Bring up stuff you have in common, like being fellow alumni or that both of you worked for the same company at one point (mention you saw this information on their LinkedIn profile…no need to seem overly creepy). They might even remember this comment & look up your profile later.

10.) LinkedIn is another place to look for jobs. Many people don’t know that LinkedIn actually has a job bank. Applying for jobs through it means potential employers will be more likely to look at your profile, since it’s linked in your application. They can also immediately see if you are a connection in any way.

Want more reasons? Check out what Guy Kawasaki, Scott Allen, Leo Babauta, & Lindsey Pollak have to say.

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