LinkedIN Advice for College Students
by Leah Elkins, Outdoor Recreation Leadership student & Residence Assistant.
Flip-phones have become oddities. Those who live and thrive in our modern world with only flip-phones are, generally, peculiarities. The vast majority of us live in an interconnected world with smartphone dependency and instant gratification complexes. And I don’t just mean those of us working our way through college into the job world – I’m also talking about employers. The career-hunting game has changed.
CMC’s small class sizes, hands on experience and personal relationships with faculty members create unique professional opportunities for many students. Some students are able to turn an internship into a paid, full-time position after graduation. Others may reach out to an instructor for a recommendation and an introduction into their professional network. These real-world connections are exceptional in today’s ever increasingly digital world, and beyond CMC are somewhat rare. Most college students do not have the opportunity to rub elbows with CEO’s in the lunch room or meet the Director of HR for coffee – but online this is made possible by LinkedIN. As the job market changes and the professional world becomes increasingly digital, so does our networking opportunities.
Most career opportunities today are facilitated through social media interactions rather than your dad’s friend’s son’s boss who you ran into at the bank. (Banking is done online these days, too.) It’s always been about who you know, but now, it’s about who your LinkedIn profile knows. It’s about the endorsements on your profile and the references you’ve been given. It’s about an online resume through which employers can quickly and efficiently search. It’s about knowing what you want and going after it effectively. Self-advertising and active networking and the names of the game. Point blank, LinkedIn will help build your career. Rather than continue explaining why LinkedIn is invaluable, the following 6 tips focus on how improve your LinkedIn navigation skills.
- Find a good profile picture. Keep in mind that this isn’t Facebook; you need a professional headshot. Pick a well-dressed photo and crop the image to depict what you think looks professional. Don’t include other people in the photo.
- Maintain your profile information. Keep your experience, education, skills, honors, and summary up-to-date and relevant. What are you trying to show employers? What industry are you aiming for? Ask yourself questions to figure out what it means to keep your profile relevant. Compare your profile to other successful profiles, such as a CEO or a marketing director. They know what they’re doing.
- Include media from your experiences. Did you contribute to a community project? Add photos. Were you featured in an online article regarding an accomplishment? Include a link. Show, don’t tell! This is social media, after all.
- Know your skills and brag about them. Add as many skills as you think are relevant, such as public speaking or teamwork. While you network, ask for endorsements and recommendations. One way to do this is to endorse others’ skills, such as coworkers or classmates with whom you’ve worked, and encourage them to reciprocate their opinions. You could always flat-out ask a professor, employer, or any professional connection to write a recommendation on your behalf.
- Search for jobs. You don’t have to know exactly what you want – sometimes it can be fun to just search around and imagine different things. Search for internships, search by location, search by topic or keywords, read job requirements, and compare your skills to those of typical applicants. You’ll even find CMC alumni employed by tons of diverse businesses and companies.
- Be active in your networking. Don’t just follow your boss, your professors, and your friends – follow schools (like Colorado Mountain College), magazines, businesses, Fortune 500’s, influential speakers, CEOs, people with your dream job – play around with the options. Read their profile details and activity. Read articles and share interests.
Don’t be hesitant to dive right in. You’ve got to start somewhere with career searching and LinkedIn isn’t going anywhere! Even if you don’t want a job or career right now, LinkedIn is a great way to plan ahead. You don’t want to waste the connections you make while in college, you’ll never get them back quite the same! Get yourself a head start. Engage with the platform and you’ll get a lot out of it. Good luck!