While students jump through the final hoops to be granted their diplomas at the finish line, they face the pressures of the real world and joining the work force. Where do you even start?
This is where LinkedIn is more helpful than many realize.
LinkedIn’s focus is to bring employers to the applicant. For new graduates, this concept could mean career success right out of college, but the catch is that it takes time and effort to create a stellar profile.
With this site acting as your professional representation, there are specific things you need to be cautious of posting. Thankfully, we have numerous LinkedIn experts right on campus and eager to help students with this tool.
If you have ever worked with professors that encourage LinkedIn use, you know that the name of the game is connections. However, unlike Facebook, the key is also “quality over quantity.” Accounting professor Kimberly Church is one of the biggest believers in this approach.
Church has been utilizing LinkedIn in her curriculum since 2010, and she has become an expert in the art of professional networking through this social medium. In her classes, every student is required to not only activate an account within the first week of the semester, but they are expected to update their profile continuously, as well as connect with people in their desired career field.
“I’d rather give them comments and feedback while they’re under the safety of my class before they’re out there professionally making mistakes,” Church said.
Due to her success teaching students the power of LinkedIn, Church has been invited to speak at numerous conferences around the country, the most prestigious being the annual conference held by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).
Conveniently, the IMA began to take notice of her through her LinkedIn networks.
According to Church, the key is to take advantage of the moments you’re at any conference or workshop pertaining to your field. After any event, find the guest speakers and take a picture with them, then post it on your LinkedIn thanking the guest speaker, as well as the organization that hosted the event.
This tactic is exactly what she did for every IMA event she attended, and before she knew it, she was getting calls from them asking her to be a part of their program.
“If you’ve been engaging with a group all along informally, then your name is already on their radar,” Church said.
Much like Church, Director of Career Services Scott Crawford recommends networking on LinkedIn.
He says one tool UMKC students need to use more is the “see alumni” button on UMKC’s page.
There are currently over 50,000 alumni connected to UMKC’s profile. With the help of LinkedIn, students can search the database of UMKC alumni by major, current workplace, current city and more, in order to find someone that could be helpful to their future.
When asked how to handle the formatting aspect of student profiles, both Church and Crawford had the same points of importance: the photo, the profile summary and the job descriptions.
According to Crawford, the photo has a lasting impression towards how employers view your profile.
“There are studies that say if you don’t have a picture, people don’t look at your stuff as much,” Crawford said.
Expert opinion says to include your smiling face, and never include other people in the photo.
As for the summary section, use that section to show off your passion for your field. Church’s tip was to google your field’s “top 10 buzz words.” Then, use three or four of those words in your summary statement.
Personalizing the job description section could be a challenge, but according to management professor David Lloyd, it’s a chance to highlight the best features about your work.
Lloyd, being a business owner himself, encourages his students to use LinkedIn to “Let them know who you are and what you’re about.”
Church describes LinkedIn as a “liquid resume,” because nothing stops students from constantly updating their profiles.
“People are on there looking for a skill set, and they see yours. So, if you keep it updated, job requests will come to you,” Church said.