Many of you have probably heard of LinkedIn and some of you may have even created a profile there. However, that may have been where your exploration of LinkedIn stopped. Students I meet with are often confused about how to use this powerful professional networking resource. My simplest explanation to them is that LinkedIn is the professional equivalent of Facebook. Although this isn’t entirely accurate, I just want them to grasp the magnitude and popularity of this powerful networking site while also understanding the necessity of using it in their job search. According to a January 2010 study conducted for Microsoft by Cross-Tab Marketing Services, 75% of HR departments are now required to research candidates online so it’s definitely in your best interest to establish a robust LinkedIn profile.
Here are my eight tips that can boost your online presence and personal brand:
1. Establish a comprehensive and thorough profile by copying and pasting sections of your resume into your profile and post your resume.
2. Upload any PowerPoint presentations or projects you have done; establish links to blogs and other websites you may have.
3. Create an interesting headline such as “Marketing Intern at ABC Company” as opposed to “Student at XYZ University.”
4. Invite people into your network such as peers, professors, advisors, supervisors, coaches and mentors.
5. Join groups relating to your career of interest; this will enable you to more easily connect to members in the group, obtain insider information, enter into discussions with them and post questions.
6. Get someone to write a recommendation for you to be posted on LinkedIn.
7. Change your status frequently; by doing this your name will appear often in the LinkedIn update emails and will position you as someone who is actively involved in your industry.
8. Link your book recommendations to Amazon; ideally, they should pertain to your career field.
Okay, so now that you've implemented all of these wonderful tips, what happens next? Do you suddenly have recruiters beating a cyber path to your LinkedIn door? Probably not, although some recruiters are using LinkedIn to find qualified job applicants. However, a LinkedIn profile is now a necessary and required component in your job search and in building your professional online brand. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, and the other candidates do (with all other factors being relatively equal), the candidate with a LinkedIn profile will definitely have the competitive advantage.