Why College Students Should Join LinkedIn

Here's why it's smart to join this professional networking site even if you don't have much workplace experience.

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LinkedIn is the best designated professional network and the first social network job seekers should consider using to find opportunities. Yet job seekers without much workforce experience may wonder whether LinkedIn is useful for them. If you don’t already know a lot of people who are using LinkedIn, it is easy to underestimate its potential value.

Less experienced job seekers don’t flock to LinkedIn in the same numbers as other networks, such as Facebook, but joining early, learning how LinkedIn works, and connecting with professional contacts throughout your college career will help you later. You may have a work-study or part-time job, enjoy a good relationship with your supervisor, but not want to be friends on Facebook. What better way to connect and stay in touch than LinkedIn?

Making a concerted effort to grow your online network will help support your job hunting efforts today and in the future. In a transient environment, when people do not always stay in one job very long, connecting via LinkedIn helps you keep track of contacts who might serve as references or refer you to opportunities later.

[See 10 Smart Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search.]

LinkedIn says approximately 200,000 college students join every month, encouraging companies to use the site to recruit internship and entry-level positions. You don’t want to miss those opportunities by not having a profile.

LinkedIn even has a student portal. The LinkedIn blog explains the portal:

• Recommends jobs based on your education and interests. You’ll be able to get email alerts and notifications on your LinkedIn home page.

• Helps LinkedIn’s network help you. Adding connections via LinkedIn is probably a lot easier than you thought. You can even import your email lists and see who is available on LinkedIn. The company suggests looking first at alumni (who may be hiring), friends, and family members. If you don’t know a lot of people using LinkedIn, tell your friends to join and then connect with them. You may be surprised by how quickly your network can grow.

• Helps you research companies via LinkedIn’s company pages. Find out what they do, types of people they hire, and what people say about them.

[See How to use Facebook to find a summer job.]

• Allows companies to find you. Wouldn’t it be great to be invited to apply for a sought-after internship because of your qualifications on your LinkedIn profile? It’s possible. Just as more experienced hires may be recruited to apply for jobs, LinkedIn helps you job search even when you’re not actively looking for opportunities by making you part of database professionals in a variety of types of organizations are looking for you! (Remember: the more complete your profile, the more likely it is for people to find you. This includes having recommendations, so be sure to ask some people to endorse you.)

• Helps you connect to other students to see how they landed their jobs.

• Opens a worldwide network. The portal is available in all of the languages LinkedIn supports. It’s possible to find jobs from around the world.

Don’t miss your chance to be involved in the go-to, professional network and to participate in what has become the largest resource for employers hoping to fill positions. Join LinkedIn, create a complete profile, and connect.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.

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