I believe colleges should be teaching courses on LinkedIn and make them mandatory…for every student. Why? Because sources like Jobvite.com estimate as high as 96% of recruiters search for and contact employers by using LinkedIn.
For two years I’ve been trying to impress upon my college-age daughter that she should take advantage of LinkedIn, especially at her young age when she can get on the bottom floor, but she’s no different than her classmates who haven’t the inclination to join this ever important networking platform.
The fact is that college students should be building their network before they need it. When I asked my daughter when she is going to join LinkedIn, she told me she’s got enough to handle with Facebook and Instagram. But she’ll seriously look into it when she has time, she told me with a smile. She brushed me off.
This will take time, I see, but I won’t give up. She’ll have to realize the advantages her generation has over jobseekers who are scrambling to join or strengthen their LinkedIn strategy. She and her classmates can join the party early, but they’ll have to do the following to be successful:
Learn About LinkedIn
Learning about LinkedIn will give you a huge advantage over people already in the workforce. What has taken years for workers of all ages, including myself, you can get a head start on the process of learning the intricacies of this platform that is not extremely difficult to master, but will require a learning curve. This, to me, is reason enough to require college students to take courses on LinkedIn.
Begin Constructing Your Profile
Now if you’re thinking you’re too young; keep in mind you need to produce a résumé for when you enter the labor market. This is just a start, but with guidance you can do it correctly. A former friend of my daughter began constructing his profile after his senior year of high school, and it was pretty good for a graduating high school senior.
Develop a Quality Network
You can start with colleagues of your parents, but then you’ll want to reach out to people who do what you are studying for. My daughter is considering becoming a nurse. I’ve suggested she talk with nurses I know. And while she’s at it, connect on LinkedIn with these same nurses, providing they’re on LinkedIn. “Won’t that be creepy,” she’s probably thinking. No, this shows initiative.
Connect with Alumni
You might be under the false impression that your alumni consist only of the people with whom you’re going to school. Your alumni are those who have gone to your school, are currently employed, and most importantly want to pay back the school that played a part in shaping their lives. Yes, alumni are complete strangers, but the goal is to turn strangers into networking contacts.
Start Your Research Earlier
Astute college students will use LinkedIn’s Companies feature to follow target companies. When you graduate, you’ll have more knowledge of these companies than your classmates. Further, you can identify top players in your industry. It is highly likely you won’t have a first or second degree connection at a company or organization; so a bold connection request will be required.
Join Groups in Your Major/Industry
But what will I do in these groups, I hear my daughter thinking. College students should take their time to peruse the five groups or more they join to better understand about their potential colleagues. Consider this a way to gather information from the experts in your field, information you won’t find in your classes. Groups for nursing show 11 in my daughter’s geographic location. There are two specific nursing groups for her school.
Consider the advantages of learning about this premier networking platform early in your career. You will be well ahead of people who are still thinking LinkedIn is for established professionals, and not college students. (Hint: They are wrong… dead wrong!)
About the Author: Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center. Jobseekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Follow Bob on Twitter and LinkedIn.