Creating a LinkedIn Account: A College Student’s Perspective
Whether you’re a college student, a high school student or the parent of a college or high school student, chances are you’ve heard of LinkedIn. And chances are, you’ve been meaning to create a LinkedIn account if you haven’t already. If you’re going to college or looking for a job, it’s important to get connected and market yourself as a product in the business world. It can be hard to get started, so let me walk you through the labyrinth that is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a social media-type platform that allows you to create “connections” with other people in a business and networking sense. It’s basically an online resume - you list your work experience, groups you’re involved in and skills. Although I am no expert (and am not employed by the site), I recently figured out the how-to’s of LinkedIn and came into contact with just how important having a LinkedIn account is at a recent job.
Employers do look at your LinkedIn account, and it’s important to a) have one, and b) have one that stands out to prospective employers. Here’s how to go about creating an impressive LinkedIn:
- List your most important and influential work experiences, but not excessively: The core element of LinkedIn is listing your work experience. List your previous jobs, but only list what is necessary. Don’t list the three-day workshop you did when you were 16 unless it really made a difference in your life and was impressive and influential.
- Make sure you define terms that are specific to your school/work: Make sure that someone reading your page knows what you’re talking about, even if they have no prior knowledge about that business. For example, don’t just list names of companies. Describe what type of work they do, and what your role was. Not everyone may know about the specific program at your school you did research for, so explain in plain terms how you were involved.
- Ask friends and colleagues to endorse you for different skills (and make sure you endorse them back): LinkedIn allows you to list specific skills, such as public speaking, research or Microsoft Office. People you have made “connections” with, including friends or co-workers, can “endorse” you for these activities by clicking on your page and agreeing that you can do these tasks. Then their name shows up on your page as someone who believes you can do this task. This adds an extra boost of credibility, and you can help your friends by endorsing them, too.
- Make connections with people you have met through school, work, etc.: The best part of LinkedIn is the connections you make. LinkedIn will suggest people for you to “connect” with. Being “connected” with someone means that you and that person are following each other’s pages (similar to being friends on Facebook), and you each get updates if the other posts something new to their page (a new job, a promotion, new skills, etc.). LinkedIn will suggest people to connect with, so connect with people you know and search for people you have worked with to add them, too.
- Use the website to find job opportunities and build your personal image: LinkedIn will send you emails with new job and internship opportunities based on pages you like and people you’re connected with. It’s a great tool to build your personal business and get your name out into the world.
Now that you know the basics of LinkedIn, you can set up or enhance your own page. It can be a great tool for looking for jobs, helping friends get jobs or just making sure you’re presenting a professional image.
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