Why Aren’t You On LinkedIn?

Linkedin Chocolates

photo by nan palmero

A recent @YouTern #internpro tweetchat started off with this question: Why aren’t you on LinkedIn? And it’s a very good question. Not just because you should be, but because a recent report found that a whopping 93 percent of job recruiters look at LinkedIn to find qualified candidates. And that’s up from 87 percent last year, and 78 percent the year before. LinkedIn is now to the working world, what email is to your basic communication. If you’re not using it, it’s …. odd. Like you’re with a secretive industry. Or perhaps from another planet.

But a lot of college students hesitate from getting on LinkedIn for several reasons. And we’re here to debunk and address them:

It’s for grown-ups.

Um…you are one! You may not feel like one, but if you’re over 18, in college, already working, or job hunting, then you’re a grown-up. And you belong on LinkedIn. Just like the boss and the managers and your parents.

It’s for established professionals.

Ever hear of Wayne Gretzky? He’s considered one of the finest athletes of all time, and one of the best ice hockey players ever to skate a rink. And he famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.” Go to where the established professionals are, because that is what you’re going to be. You didn’t wait to get on Facebook or Twitter while you were college, right? So what’s your hold up now with LinkedIn?

Where to start?

Just start! Unless you are the rare human who has eschewed all social media in the last five years, you know how to build a profile. And you probably know about the difference between public, private, and putting your best foot forward. Meaning, this is where people go to look for work, research companies they may want to work for, and build professional networks. And as you saw at the outset, it’s where employers look for candidates. So take a picture that says you’re a professional who is worth an interview — appropriately staged and clothed. Then treat it like you would a serious resume. List your education, your skills, your job history, your achievements.

I don’t have anything to put in there!

Again, just start. And think creatively.

  • Were you an intern?
  • Have you volunteered anywhere?
  • Did you start projects that you led from start to finish?
  • Were you responsible for any projects as either an intern or a volunteer?
  • Did you produce any final reports? Did you spend a semester abroad?
  • Do you speak any foreign languages?
  • Do you have basic office skills or even better, perhaps you can use specialized software?

If you think of your achievements and professional progress in those terms, suddenly your profile doesn’t look so bare, does it?

And keep in mind, if you’re just out of college, employers understand that you don’t have a lot of work experience yet. But the fact that you’re there will speak volumes about your desire to be taken seriously in a medium where people mean business.

Who to connect to?

How about your friends? You’re all in this together, right? Start there, and voila! You’ve now started your own network. And if you want to have a bigger group, again, think creatively. Are there mentors, professors, managers from an internship, or staff from a volunteering position that you could link to? Then reach out to them! Because they do two important things. They form your larger network and can vouch for your. (Tip: If you want to link to someone who is senior to you, personalize the invitational note. Remember, you need them. And as your senior, they are worth the extra minute and effort.)

See? That wasn’t so hard.