Why LinkedIn Should Be the New Major for College Students

By Erica Gleeman on April 28, 2017

Social Media via Pixabay

With today’s job market for new college graduates more dauntingly competitive than ever, marketing yourself as a worthy employee should get underway well before you don your caps and gowns. Aside from personal connections, one of the best, easiest, and potentially most effective ways to “get yourself out there” — with a resume, a photo, and recommendations — is LinkedIn.

Although LinkedIn was founded 15 years ago, today’s college students and recent graduates only in modern times have started taking advantage of the platform in such large numbers. With a reported 470 million users worldwide, students and recent college grads account for about 40 million, or almost 10 percent, according to 2017 figures compiled by Omnicore, a national digital marketing firm.

Yet, despite those rising numbers, many college students have not taken the time to learn the benefits of LinkedIn, never mind how they can use it most effectively, noted Daniel Nations in an article about the social media tool on www.lifewire.com.

“Despite being one of the most popular social platforms today, many people still have no idea what LinkedIn is supposed to be used for or how they might benefit from being on it.”

In short, LinkedIn enables users to make professional connections, especially important for college students and recent grads with limited job experience and no solid network of well-connected family and friends. After signing on, potential or new job-seekers start with just two simple steps: posting an introductory summary of their qualifications and intended career direction and uploading a professionally appropriate headshot. A headshot is a specific type of portrait that demonstrates a person’s facial appearance, commonly used for branding purposes.

This free, user-friendly networking site gives the opportunity for members to have guidance throughout all of the steps to constructing a detailed resume. LinkedIn offers not only an unlimited number of spots to list previous jobs or meaningful volunteer work, but also the opportunity to add visual elements or logos to make listings stand out more so.

The instructions continue until users have created a complete resume, which includes spots for education, certifications, awards, special interests, skills, and even samples of written or visual projects. Perhaps the biggest winning point with LinkedIn is the ability to publish recommendations right on your LinkedIn profile page. Users can choose to seek a recommendation for a particular skill — with a recommender’s own headshot appearing alongside it — or even request a detailed testimonial that can be inserted into a general area or next to a particular job or experience listing.

Moreover, job seekers using LinkedIn do not simply list their credentials and sit back and wait. The website offers a customized “Job Interest Section,” where users can specify exactly what kind of work they are seeking, even particular companies. Particularly helpful for college students and recent grads is an “internship” option. Other filters include preferred title, location, industry, company size, types of jobs, and job variables such as full- or part-time, contract, freelance, or remote. The fact that LinkedIn is an international business offers another distinct advantage. Students should not fail to mention the languages they are proficient in, as it can help their employment candidacy overseas, even in a multicultural local area.

In the past, college students often found it cumbersome and often even awkward to contact his or her parent’s old college roommate across the country — or world — about a possible job lead. Now, if both parties appear on LinkedIn, millennials can quickly and painlessly send a message and their resume through the site to older potential contacts.

Another highly helpful feature for job seekers is the email alert system, enabling users to make sure they receive such alerts when particular jobs open up. The site also helps prepare young job seekers for decision-making and interview skills by publishing company pages, which offer details about the hiring process and input from employees and clients about the organization. Acquiring such knowledge puts new job seekers ahead of the pack.

Despite the relative ease of using LinkedIn, the company has responded to feedback that many younger students find it daunting, at least initially. Company leaders created a student portal with its own phone application, complete with videos and tip sheets to help students create a stellar profile well before graduation day.

The digital presence of LinkedIn allows students to present themselves to the world on a much larger scale, with endless positive attributes that would not be able to fit on a printed resume alone. College students and recent grads would be wise to extricate themselves from sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram — and focus their energy on making the most of LinkedIn, which has proved an effective gateway for job seekers. That holds equally true for millenials, who in today’s world face the stiffest competition, whether looking for just the right internship or a solid first job.

Photo by Baim Hanif via Unsplash

Erica Gleeman is a New York native, but was raised in Boca Raton, Florida. She is a senior at Florida State University currently pursuing a degree in English - Editing, Writing, and Media with a minor in General Business. The Editing, Writing, and Media track re-conceives the English major for the 21st century. It still preserves the traditional core of English, the creation and interpretation of texts, by combining practice in writing and editing with the study of cultural history and criticism. However, it transforms both writing practice and critical study to confront the new challenges of digital technology, visual culture, and the Internet. The Editing, Writing, and Media major uniquely prepares for communications related skills.

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