I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several college groups about LinkedIn, and I’ll be doing so again tomorrow as part of this IPFW Mastodon Career Call webinar. For many of the students I meet, LinkedIn is a virtual unknown, even among those preparing to enter the workforce. There’s some history to this: for a time, LinkedIn didn’t have as much to offer college students as it did for established professionals. As LinkedIn has grown, however, that’s changed. The site now offers a few features specifically designed to help college students transition into the workforce, begin to build their reputations as professionals, and enhance their relationships. Here’s a look at some of the most valuable of those tools:
- The “Jobs for Students and Recent Graduates” portal connects job seekers to employers specifically looking to hire those just entering the workforce. This helps students and recent grads cut through the clutter and focus on jobs that don’t require years of experience.
- The LinkedIn Learning Center Student portal includes a video “grad guide” that can help college students make the most of LinkedIn.
- This summer, LinkedIn introduced some new profile sections designed specifically for students and recent graduates, which are discussed in detail in this LinkedIn blog post. These allow you to highlight things like honors and awards, organizations, and projects–especially valuable for those with limited job experience who still want to have something to say in their profile.
- LinkedIn also added a “Volunteer Experience and Causes” option for user profiles. While this has value well beyond college students, it’s especially helpful to those who have done volunteer work related to their desired career path. This is another place to populate your profile with information of value to employers, even if your job experience is limited.
- LinkedIn know lets users “Apply With LinkedIn” when employers make that option available in their job postings. This too is relevant well beyond college students, but it can be especially useful in combination with the “Jobs for Students and Recent Graduates” portal mentioned above.
- Finally, student LinkedIn users should seek out recommendations from professors and peers who can speak to their abilities (and they should give recommendations where deserved, too). As I discussed in this previous post, there’s no better way to share your story than to have someone else tell it for you.
If you’re a college student heading toward the home stretch in your final semester, you should definitely make LinkedIn part of your plans. The tools mentioned above can help you more easily promote your skills, even in the absence of significant career experience.