I’d like to think most of us realise how valuable LinkedIn is.  It’s far more than a networking site with job vacancies – the site offers a way for students and graduates to explore their career options, something made even easier with the Alumni tool – find out what alumni from your course or university did after graduation. This means that LinkedIn is a networking site, somewhere to find relevant jobs and an intelligence gathering tool for career development.

The latter is what we want to focus on here. LinkedIn makes creating a profile easy and intuitive but often students feel their profile has to be perfect . This mindset gets in the way of them actually using the site itself. The UL Careers Service are more than happy to advise students on their profiles (See Ultimate LinkedIn Cheat Sheet) but we want to help the general student population to see that LinkedIn is a lot more than just another version of your CV.

It is important to remember that LinkedIn is your professional face to the world or work, with that in mind, here are our 13 reasons why every student should join LinkedIn

A little bit more on LinkedIn…

1.    Build your professional network.

 It’s never too early to start building a network with people in your area. Ideally you would have a profile set up in first year and add to it throughout your university years getting a surge of contacts whilst out on Coop. Start now is the message, start connecting to classmates. While they are friends and classmates now, in the future they become business referrals. Where next?  Well how about that smartphone in your pocket? some warm leads might include your own relatives who are working in various organisations.

2.    Check out career paths. 

Find people who are in LinkedIn who are already employed in your desired profession. Check out their profiles to see what they have done to become successful. See if you can incorporate something from their career path into yours.

3.    Prepare for interviews. 

When you have a job interview, review the profile of the person who will interview you. Having this background knowledge during the interview will help, maybe they too went to UL and perhaps even did your course.

4.    Get referrals. 

Networking is all about who you know and who those people know. A mutual acquaintance can connect you so go digging on LinkedIn and find them.

5.    Gain connections from on-campus events.

 When you meet new contact’s chances are you do not have a business card to share. Nor do other students. LinkedIn is the perfect place to maintain a connection for those short interactions that relate to work or study. But remember to act soon after the interaction and personalise your invite you may need to remind them where you met.

6.    Share updates with others.

When you update your LinkedIn profile or experiences, your network is automatically informed about these changes. You do not have to send out individual e-mails to everybody. A nice side benefit is that this automatic notification brings your profile to their attention and awareness. Then, you can be on their radar when they learn about job possibilities that fit your qualifications. This is called ‘talent discovery’ and the space you NEED to be in.

7.    Share when your target audience are online. 

Different social networks have different peak times for sharing. So when is the best time to share on LinkedIn? Research shows it is just outside of the typical core work hours of 9-5pm. A good time is between 7am-9am (think of all those commuters and coffee drinkers!) and between 4-6pm late meetings are not as popular and people tend to start winding down. They are back at their desks, catching up.

8.    Bookmark stuff to share and hold it to share at the right time of day. Download a content app like ‘Flipboard’ or other providers which allow you to store away the best articles when you are in the queue at Spar! By the way it should go without saying that you should also download the LinkedIn App onto your mobile.

9.    Monitor your Profile views like any social network LinkedIn gives you feedback on what you share. Use this to tailor and optimise your posts. Make your posts visual and add photos. Make it educational and informative even at times inspirational!

10. It extends your CV to a Portfolio. 

Many companies prefer receiving the standard two-page CV. That is not a lot of room for information. LinkedIn provides a place to have more in-depth information than what a short CV can ever hope to provide. Put your LinkedIn profile URL on your CV. Future employers can then find more information about you through LinkedIn. Think Portfolio NOT just an online CV so when referring to recent college projects why not ”show me not just tell me” and you can do so in many ways on LinkedIn using a variety of media – photo, video or document.

11. Join a LinkedIn group.

 LinkedIn automatically shows you groups you may like to join based on the information in your profile. To find more just scroll down more mature profiles in your area .As a member of the group, you have access to share or message BUT use this wisely. Spam them and your brand is tarnished so spread the posts around, different days for different group posts.
Read their posts to glean information about the industry and to gain their insights about current trends. Post thoughtful comments so group members can get to know you. Group connections are helpful during a job search.

12. Research a company. 

LinkedIn provides information about different companies. This information helps you determine whether or not you would like working for that company. It also shows how many current job openings that company has and how many people in your network or UL Alumni are employed there.

13. Search for jobs. 

And last but not least, use LinkedIn to help you find a job. When you click on the Jobs link, it shows jobs that are compatible to your profile. You can also search for additional job openings. The majority of Recruiters use it to vet and source / contact candidates directly through LinkedIn.

So hopefully our 13 reasons have compelled you to get LinkedIn! If you follow these 13 ways to use LinkedIn, you will be a step ahead of your competition. To profit from LinkedIn one should think of it in two parts. 

Firstly when building the profile think of it as your personal website. It can look slick with all the bells and whistles but if nobody sees it than it can be a waste of time. 

The second way to think of LinkedIn is the promotion of that ‘website’ getting your profile seen and out there remembering the point mentioned above in number 6 – the concept of ‘talent discovery’ , employers need to be able to find you now and throughout your career this will only happen if you are engaged and active on LinkedIn.