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2017 - LinkedIn and Career Building for University Students by Robyn Henderson -
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LinkedIn & Career
How to use LinkedIn to find a job, plan your
career, build your profile and research
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Whether you are a first, second or third year student or graduate
studying international relations, Asian studies, journalism or public
relations or any of the other dozens of degrees available today, LinkedIn
can definitely help you get a job or a short or long term consulting
contract and/or work experience locally, nationally and internationally.
Plus, it is a brilliant research tool when you are wanting to find out more
about the people who will be interviewing you.
Founded in 2003, LinkedIn’s Mission is to connect the world's
professionals to make them more productive and successful. With more
than 450 million members (August, 2016) worldwide (located in 200
countries and territories), including executives from every Fortune 500
company, LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network on the
Internet today. 70% of the users of LinkedIn are located outside of the
USA. The company has a diversified business model with revenue
coming from Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions and Premium
Subscriptions products. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, LinkedIn has
offices across the globe.
According to Forbes magazine (2013) LinkedIn’s popularity has
skyrocketed over the last decade. In LinkedIn’s first year it created a
mere 1,000,000 followers, in 2008 it held just 22,000,000 followers
before hitting a staggering 200,000,000 followers in 2013 and today it
sits at 347,000,000 followers and climbing fast. (450 million, August
History of LinkedIn
Reid Hoffman is the co-founder and chairman of Silicon Valley’s best
performing social networking company LinkedIn.
I (Reid) first met Mark Pincus while at PayPal in 2002. I was giving him
advice on a startup he was working on. From our first conversation, I felt
inspired by Mark’s wild creativity and how he seems to bounce off the
walls with energy. I’m more restrained, preferring to fit ideas into
strategic frameworks instead of unleashing them fire-hose-style. But it’s
our similar interests and vision that have made our collaborations so
We invested in Friendster together in 2002. In 2003 the two of us bought
the Six Degrees patent, which covers some of the foundational
technology of social networking. Mark then started this own social
network, Tribe; I started LinkedIn (LNKD). When Peter Thirle and I were
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set to put the first money into Facebook in 2004, I suggested that Mark
take half of my investment allocation. I wanted to involve Mark in any
opportunity that seemed intriguing, especially one that played to his
social networking background. (Fortune Magazine, Feb 6, 2012)
What is the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn?
Facebook is the equivalent of going to the pub, LinkedIn is the
equivalent of going to a networking event with a room full of job
prospects. If you are serious about using social media to find a job that
meets your preferences, LinkedIn is where you need to spend your time.
Remember Facebook, like Twitter can do more damage to your future
career, than you can ever imagine. Be very careful what photos you put
on Facebook. What seems like fun at the time can be considered to be a
career destroying activity.
How to effectively use LinkedIn
As busy as you are throughout the year with your studies, volunteering,
assessments, part time job/s and your social life, LinkedIn is a brilliant
use of your time and can be managed in as little as 8-10 minutes per
day once you have set up your profile.
Before you start using LinkedIn, you must be clear on:
Why are you using it?
What do you want to achieve?
How are you going to do that?
Some of the many benefits of using LinkedIn are that it is a great way to:
Reconnect with lapsed connections, people in your network that
you have lost contact with.
Stay connected with current students that are completing the same
degree as you are at your university as well as the broader
university network/campuses, reconnect with students you may
have studied with at another university.
Connect with your alumni from the school you attended, old flat-
mates you may have lost contact with.
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Connect with your university alumni and join the alumni group on
LinkedIn. Remember your alumni starts from day one of your
degree, NOT your graduation day.
Research people working in the organisations that you may like to
work with one day.
Have the opportunity to communicate with potential clients and
human resources professionals via the groups’ option.
Your LinkedIn Profile needs to represent you in the most positive
way that it can. Consequently, it may initially take you 20-30
minutes to write your profile and you may even change or update it
regularly as your circumstances alter e.g. you take on volunteering
opportunities, part time roles and/or additional studies.
The six words after your name are the most important words on
your LinkedIn profile. Avoid just describing yourself as ‘student’. I
know that student is what you are – but anyone looking at your
profile, probably won’t click through if you don’t give them a little
You may want to write Accountancy Student, Aspiring
Future Public Relations Consultant, Student Ambassador or 3rd
year Asian Studies student.
And if you do speak a second or third language you may like to
include Bi-lingual Student Ambassador, Multi-lingual Arts Student
If you are still unsure about your description, look at other
student’s descriptions from other universities and you may feel
more confident with your descriptions. Remember there are
450,000,000 people on LinkedIn and it is fast becoming the go-to
tool for recruiters today.
What else do you need to include?
The Summary is the section of LinkedIn where you get to tell your
story. Many people don’t put anything in this section at all and that
is such a wasted opportunity. In my opinion, the summary is the
section where you write about:
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* Your life
* Why you chose to study whatever you are studying
* Where you hope to go with your studies
* Your background
* Any special interest groups you are part of both in and out of
Unfortunately, when you research other summary sections, you
may find that some people use it as a ‘sales’ tool. I firmly believe
this is not what it is intended for.
One of the facilities on LinkedIn is the option when you look up one
person, they offer People Also Viewed and list a number of your
competitors according to their algorithms. If you have some spare
time, take a few minutes to look at this section and see why
LinkedIn thinks these are your so called ‘competitors’.
Experience is the next section for you to complete. Here is where
you can include activities that you were involved with during your
school years, extra-curricular activities etc. If you have helped in a
family business over the years, include that experience here and
also mention this experience in your summary. If you worked in
multiple retail or fast food outlets etc., you may choose to describe
this as XX years in retail. You definitely don’t have to list 3 months
here, 6 weeks there etc.
Awards, recommendations, training, qualifications etc. The
fact that you may not have huge work experience doesn’t mean
that you can’t talk about your life and all the exciting things you
have done and any achievements for which you have been
Languages- definitely include any languages that you are fluent
in. Today we are working in a global marketplace, and bi-lingual
and multi-lingual students are always in demand.
Volunteer you may volunteer from time to time for one off events
or long term organisations like the State Emergency Services or
local charity. These days when employee competition is so
intense, the more well-rounded and experienced you can show
that you are, the more appealing you will be to a future employer.
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Test Scores – you can include degrees and diplomas that you
have completed and the scores you received. Again this shows
more evidence of the skills and knowledge you have.
Photograph – You must have a professional looking photograph
on your LinkedIn profile. However, avoid using selfies or a photo of
you standing in front of a monument etc. To take in the monument
will mean that your face will be obscured and shrunk in size. The
whole point of having a photo is so people can see your face and
recognise you and consequently connect with you. If you are
aiming for a professional career long term, wear a shirt and tie. If
you are more interested in advertising or marketing – something
more casual with a shirt collar would be appropriate.
Open Profile versus Closed Profile – this is another LinkedIn
area where opinions vary. I first learned about LinkedIn from Iggy
Pintado www.iggypintado.com, who recommended having an open
profile. This means as people connect with you and you with them,
if you wish you can look through their connections list and see if
you have other people in common. Some people worry that if they
have an open profile, everyone will know who they are connected
to and will ‘steal’ them, or a similar theory. The bigger picture of
LinkedIn is basically ‘build it and they will come’, the more that you
connect with the more contacts you have, the faster you will build
your profile and more people will get to know about you.
LinkedIn is free. There is no charge for LinkedIn and the basic
systems that are available. Iggy told me from the start to subscribe
to the Premium service @ $US25.00 per month and that is what I
did. These days I think it is closer to $50.00 per month for the
Premium service. However, for earlier subscribers, my fee is still
$US25.00 per month, which I think is good marketing on LinkedIn’s
part. Once you increase your connection numbers to 500+ you
may take advantage of the 30 day LinkedIn premium trial – but
make sure you don’t have exams etc. in the middle of the 30-day
period. Pick a 30-day period when you have time to spend daily
visits on LinkedIn.
I read recently that LinkedIn’s mantra is –
To Do Less More Efficiently
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To that end, LinkedIn engage 4,000+ engineers who are
continually working on improving their systems. What this means
as a LinkedIn user is that change is constant on the LinkedIn site.
Invitations – You may find that 90% of the people whom you
invite to connect with you say yes. And as for the 10% who reject
or ignore your invitation, please don’t take it personally. You may
have rejected many invitations before you joined LinkedIn and that
10% may be in exactly the same boat.
When you do receive an invitation and the name is not familiar to
you, if you click on the person’s name, their profile will come up
and you will find the number of people whom you have in common.
Obviously if you have no connections in common and apparently
nothing else in common with this person, you may choose to
decline their invitation. LinkedIn will ask you if the invitation is
spam and if you think it is, then you can click that button.
If you do have connections or interests in common, you may
choose to accept the invitation. On average I probably decline 10%
of the invitations I receive from total strangers.
Sending Invitations to connect - If you are starting from scratch
the obvious place to start with your connections are your friends,
school alumni, work associates, volunteer connections, etc.
Within the current LinkedIn system – when you click on any of
people you may know link and press connect – a standard
LinkedIn invitation will be sent. However, I think it is more
professional to actually click on the person’s name so that the
profile comes up and then send a personal invitation from the
profile by pressing the connect button. You will then have an
option to identify how you know the person e.g. friend, worked
together, education etc. Most importantly you will be able to send
an actual message and use your choice of personalised invitation
People respond much more positively when they receive a
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Examples of LinkedIn invitations –
1. Hi Mary, great to meet you at the Careers Expo on Wednesday.
All the best with your assignments. I would like to connect with
you on LinkedIn.
2. HI Joe, a blast from the past. I used to work with you at XXX.
Great to see you on LinkedIn, would like to connect with you.
3. HI Jason, we are both members of the XXX group and I would
like to connect with you.
4. Hi Marvin, we met at Jason’s 21st
. We spoke at length about
music and gigs. I just saw you on LinkedIn and thought I would
like to invite you to connect with me.
5. HI Alex, I am studying xxx at x university and see that you are
part of the alumni. I would like to connect with you.
After you accept a LinkedIn invitation – always send a thank
you for your invitation and start a conversation. Why bother? The
minute it takes you to write the thank you message is another
opportunity to strengthen your network.
Use LinkedIn as a research tool – if you are going for a job
interview, definitely check out the company website as well as the
LinkedIn profiles of the people in the interview panels.
Keep your eye on your connections career movements –
Under the connections tab you will find a Keep in Touch drop down
menu. Within 30 seconds of clicking on this tab you will find a
series of drop down boxes showing your connections birthday,
recent career moves and job anniversaries. There is a very
efficient system where you can send a quick message to that
person – Congratulations on your new job, all the best for 2017, or
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you can press skip and proceed to the next message. There will
also be a list of people in your connections list who have written a
new post. If you have time you may read their post and send a
comment about the post.
Using LinkedIn as a follow up tool after attending networking
events – Sometimes when you attend a business, industry or
association networking event, you sometimes wonder how you will
connect with that person in a non-pushy way. LinkedIn is the
perfect follow up tool. Even if the person is not someone who will
necessarily connect you with a future employer or offer you a job
themselves, you have spoken to them for a length of time, found
common ground and spend time with them.
During your conversation, you may ask them the question – how
are you finding LinkedIn? If they are not yet on LinkedIn, then you
will have an opportunity to discuss why you are on it. If they are on
LinkedIn, you can ask them, “May I send you a LinkedIn
invitation?” Of course they still have the opportunity to reject your
invitation, however, if you take a moment to read their profile and
make reference to that item and the fact that you met them at the
event, you are moving your connection from stranger to
acquaintance very quickly. And you are also making it easy for
people to make contact with you again.
One of the great things about LinkedIn is that everyone starts with
zero connections and as you spend time on LinkedIn you definitely
see reward for your effort. 10 minutes LinkedIn activity per day is a
great time frame to aim for. Initially as student it is wise to cluster
your activity so that you maximise your effort.
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So how will you spend you LinkedIn time?
Every day Look for interesting Updates to send to your
connections or the general public.
Scan your Keep in Touch segment and send
congratulations or happy birthday messages to
Time management wise when you cluster your
activities you will maximise your 10 minutes on
Day 1 Focus on sending invitations – connect via
individual profiles and then send a personal
Look through your network’s connections list
for mutual connections.
Day 2 Review Pulse – located under the interests
button – Pulse is in the drop down menu and
includes lots of interesting articles that you
may like to share with you network by pressing
on the share LinkedIn button. You have the
capacity to include a short message as well.
Day 3 Give a recommendation – there are many
people in your network and connections list
who you can recommend or give a compliment
to. Type the person’s name into the LinkedIn
header, go to their profile page and half way
down the page you will find ‘recommendations’
and the ‘give a recommendation’ button for
you to click. Recommendations do not need to
be long winded. 10-15 words is fine.
Day 4 Review the groups that you have joined or are
considering joining – look for geographic
groups, industry professional groups, special
interest groups etc.
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Go for quality not quantity in terms of the
number of groups you join. Feel free to ask or
answer questions relevant to the group and
become involved in discussions. If your group
has been inactive for more than 90 days, you
may choose to leave it. You can do this by
clicking on the member button at the top right
of the group page. You will have the option
leave group. When you click that button the
group logo will also be removed from your
Day 5 Take time to research ‘jobs’ on LinkedIn – you
can register your interest, follow companies
and individuals, indicate the locations you are
looking for jobs and keep a record of the jobs
that you apply for. This jobs section does
change from time to time – so make sure you
visit it on a weekly basis.
Like most social media tools, the more you use them, the better
you get at using them and the wider your profile spreads and your
connections grow. With many final year students and graduates
looking for work in your sector, it is important to invest time on
LinkedIn as it is definitely a well-used recruiter’s tool today.
As a student there will be days and sometimes weeks when you
are caught up with exams, assignments and deadlines and your
LinkedIn activity will slide. Life goes on. If you make LinkedIn part
of your weekly profile building/job search activity you will definitely
be making it easier for your employer of choice to find you.
Finally, we are not connected on LinkedIn as yet, please feel
free to send me an invitation to connect.
All the best with your job search