Link Up, Link In

By now, you have most likely heard of LinkedIn— the social networking site for professionals.  You may even have a profile- but do you know how LinkedIn can help you with your job search?

LinkedIn is a powerful tool that enables you to reach out to people you know and to make connections in a much broader network.  Think “six degrees of separation”, only  in LinkedIn’s case, it’s three degrees of connections.   Not only does LinkedIn help you to find connections that might lead to opportunity, it is increasingly being used by employers to identify potental employees.  Further, prospective employers are increasingly checking your “online presence” via LinkedIn, so creating a postiive, professional LinkedIn profile is key.

Below are some tips to make LinkedIn work for you and to help not only your job or internship search, but also your career development as you move forward.

1) Be sure to create a professional profile.  This isn’t facebook, so post a professional picture.  The profile should highlight your professional experiences.    In fact, there’s a little adobe icon on the right of your profile that allows viewers to generate a pdf of your profile, resume-style.   Click that icon and see how it looks.

2) Start adding your personal connections.   They should be people you know- especially colleagues and supervisors from summer jobs and internships, faculty, staff, and even friends.   Once you make connections, your network will expand- you’ll be able to see if you know anyone who knows anyone at a specific company

3) Join relevant groups– this expands your connections.  For example, all AU students and alumni should join the AU Alumni group.    Check out professional  associations and other relevant groups as well.   Then,  join in group discussions and answer questions– be helpful and interesting, establish a presence.

Another benefit of groups is a job posting feature in which employers can post a job opening for free.  This benefits them because it is a cost effective way to target to a specific group of potential employees.    It benefits you because you are responding to a job posting that is marketed directly to you.

4)Use the “status” update feature (found on your profile page).   Use it to highlight professional activies, such as attending conferences, planning events, or even a sharing brief description of you career goal. Remember, this isn’t about your family vacation so keep it professional.

5) Check out the “Companies” tab at the top of the LinkedIn page.  When you search for companies in LinkedIn, the site will automatically show you who in your network works at that company.  It also gives a brief profile on the company.  So, if you want an internship at XYZ Publications, then do a search on that organization- see who you may be connected to, and who they’ve hired lately.

5) When you see someone you’d like to connect with, you can connect through your first-degree connections, groups, or “InMail” .  InMail costs a decent amount of money, and generally you can find ways around it.   If you don’t share any connections with someone you’d like to contact, perhaps invite the person to connect but include a carefully written note about why you’d like to connect– interest in their career, company, shared background, etc.

It is totally fine to reach out to people via LinkedIn.  If someone has a LinkedIn profile, that generally means they are open to being contacted- in a friendly professional manner.  If not, they likely won’t get back to you — not a big deal.

For more information on using LinkedIn, check out these resources: