The use of LinkedIn by college students varies anywhere between enthusiasm and ennui. I find myself on the former end of the spectrum. Despite how much some of my fellow students hate it, think it’s a bore, waste of time, etc., I personally have profited greatly from it. Through LinkedIn, I’ve kept in touch with professional men and women whom I otherwise would probably have never seen again. The website has also given me the chance to scope out potential jobs, read from a pool of excellent job resources, and score several informational interviews. So, college students (or job seekers in general), here’s some reasons you should consider this great (and free) tool:
1. Professional Connections
This is the core of LinkedIn—to make connections with those in the professional world. For college students, this is a great opportunity to follow up with a guest speaker who came to your class, peek through their achievements and how they got started, and most importantly, connect with them so you can interview them personally. (More on that in a second.)
2. Connections with Upperclassmen
These people have been where you are now and will give you tips. Don’t lose track of them: when they’re building careers as you study, take them out for coffee and pick their brains. I can guarantee they’ll tell you at least one thing they wished they’d known before entering the workforce. And now you won’t have to go through the cost of learning that lesson like they did.
3. LinkedIn Pulse Articles
I love these. They are wonderful ways to learn a lot about news in the professional world, real-workplace problems, and solutions by people who are in the center of things. These can range from articles about diversity in the workforce to ones about habit building. Plus, LinkedIn makes it easy for you—LinkedIn Pulse is on the homepage.
4. Informational Interviews
LinkedIn is a prime place for finding people in your dream career to interview. You can see what they do, where they do it, and if you take them out for coffee, they just might tell you how they got there. Bingo—you just had a nice conversation, learned a lot, and now have a connection into the “real world.”
5. A Professional Online Presence
A URL to your LinkedIn profile is a terrific thing to have on your resume. We all know future employers will look at your social media habits—make it easier on them by helping them find you and showing off your professional achievements before they look at your Twitter or Facebook.
Granted, LinkedIn isn’t a ticket into the job industry. However, it is a great tool to use, and job seekers should think twice before disregarding it altogether.
If you need help, these resources have great advice on creating stellar LinkedIn profiles: