How important is LinkedIn?
By: Pat Donahue, Executive Director for Career Development
I am old.
54 years old.
I wrote all my college papers on a typewriter.
I only had a land line phone in college.
And my primary networking tool was a Rolodex.
No, not the expensive watch.
A Rolodex was a device to organize and flip through business cards and compile a network of connections.
In the age of social media, LinkedIn is the new Rolodex.
And, in my opinion, it’s the most professional social media site for networking among colleagues and seeking positions in your chosen field through its business networks.
Students often ask why they should set up a profile on LinkedIn. Three main reasons:
- Career exploration: Career coaches will advise you to explore careers by talking to people in careers you aspire to be. LinkedIn can help you find your career passion by browsing the profiles and connecting with professionals in your field for informational interviews.
- Searching for a Job or Internship: Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for employment, post positions and link opportunities to their application sites. After receiving a resume, hiring managers often look up the prospective candidate on LinkedIn, so you need to be where the employers are going to seek employees. If you land an interview, LinkedIn lets you research staff and companies, so you know more about your future colleagues and organization before the interview.
- Establishing yourself as a professional: LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to establish your professional brand and market yourself in your field. You can list your relevant experiences and skills, but also niche talents you may have. When done right, LinkedIn helps you build and maintain professional relationships through networking, conferences, and professional associations.
If you decide to use LinkedIn, start with the free version. For students starting out, the free version will fit your needs. LinkedIn and other websites have great information on setting up a proper profile, but the key is maintaining it, just as you would update your resume before emailing it to employers.
If I’m going to a job interview, I make sure my clothes are ironed, my appearance is professional, and my attitude is positive because that is the first impression the employer will have of me.
In the age of social media, people first learn about each other online, so having an up to date professional LinkedIn profile is your first chance to make a good impression.