Three Reasons Why You Should Be Using LinkedInOctober 2, 2019
By Sydney Glass
I think that it is safe to say that regardless of what stage of our program we are in, as grad students, we are always looking for ways to enhance our professional and career development. What if I told you that creating a LinkedIn profile is a simple way to do this, and you can do it at any time or place that is convenient for you; all you need is a computer (with internet access, of course). While I am sure that many of you are familiar with this platform, this post is for those of you that have recently heard of it, are first-time users, or simply do not think that you need it (this was me). Although I understood the purpose of LinkedIn, I could not see its benefits as I was not actively searching for a job. It was not until my graduate program required me to create an account that I realized how useful it could be and how much I had missed out on. In this post, I want to share just a few of its benefits (as there are many), so that everyone can take advantage of this resource.
First, if you are searching for a job, LinkedIn is a great place to start. With an increasing number of grad students becoming members, more employers are using the site to recruit qualified and talented professionals for their organizations. As a result, you can now apply for jobs directly through the site. Some companies use it to determine who they will call for an interview based on whether or not the candidate’s page aligns with their overall mission. Additionally, recruiters and headhunters often use LinkedIn to find individuals who they believe would be a good fit for open positions that the company is working to fill. Thus, it is important that you put effort into each section of your profile and keep it updated so that anyone who views it will see your passion for your field. Also, you want to make sure to display your professional skills and any other valuable experiences, as your profile can serve as an extension of your résumé. Equally important, grad students can use LinkedIn to learn more about an organization’s expectations and interests, which can help you tailor important documents like your cover letter or writing samples.
You can describe LinkedIn as social media for professionals, which makes it perfect for building and maintaining a strong professional network. Have you ever wanted to reach out to a colleague or a peer, but could not remember their contact information? With LinkedIn, you no longer have to worry about that because you can ask them to join your online network. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, it does not matter how long you’ve known a person or if you’ve only met them once. One of the easiest and most beneficial connections you can make is to add your professors and program advisors, as they will likely have direct links to the industry and post relevant information, such as job opportunities or changes in the field. As your connections grow, you can personalize your profile by asking those in your network who are familiar with your work to endorse certain skills and/or write recommendations. This will help you stand out from others and allow future employers to see that your skills have been verified by others in the industry. Also if you have not done it already, check out the Career Services resource page to find LinkedIn industry-specific networking groups and learn more about its online training through LinkedIn Learning.
If you are not already opening a tab and preparing to create your LinkedIn account, perhaps this last bullet will give you the necessary boost. Formerly known as Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning is now officially a part of LinkedIn, and every Mason student gets access to its amazing content (for free!). Whether you are trying to improve your marketing strategies, graphic design skills, or learn more about data analysis, this platform has something for everyone. You can customize your learning experience by selecting your skills of interest, which will make it easier to find the most popular and relevant courses for the areas of business, creativity, and technology. In addition, when you complete a course or learning path (a group of courses related to the same subject), you will earn a certificate of completion or badge. Adding these to your LinkedIn profile is a great way to show both current and future employers that you are self-motivated and committed to professional development.
Lastly, I suggest you mark your calendars for the Graduate Student Career Workshop: Creating a Professional Brand and Strategies for Networking on Feb. 7 and the Graduate Professional Student Networking and Etiquette Dinner on Feb. 28. While these events are several months away, you don’t want to miss these great opportunities to learn more about LinkedIn and ways to be successful in the career world.
I hope that you all have found this post to be helpful and will make time to create or update your LinkedIn account so that you can be ahead of the game!