Adults—that is, those of us who’ve been around the block a couple of times—know that LinkedIn can be a vital tool in a search for a new job. It’s a great way to connect with influential people and employers and recruiters frequently use LinkedIn when they are filling positions.

According to a 2010 Jobvite survey, 78.3% of hiring companies used LinkedIn to find potential candidates and/or to post openings. Nearly 90% of those companies actually hired people through LinkedIn.

However, statistics show that less than 20% of LinkedIn users are 18-24 years old. So, why aren’t they using LinkedIn?

My guess is it’s because LinkedIn is perceived as a site for “older” people and that it only has jobs for more experienced professionals. Obviously, that’s true, but not completely. While not as prevalent, there are jobs posted on LinkedIn for interns and entry level positions.

Because the number of younger users on LinkedIn is small, when someone in that age range is on LinkedIn, they can stand out from their peers—and even from more experienced (older) candidates. And, the good students are learning…a recent survey showed that last year, only 5% of new graduates used LinkedIn. This year, nearly 28% of graduates plan to set up LinkedIn Profiles.

There’s several things to remember when using LinkedIn. Have a great Professional Headline—a good description of the user, NOT a job title! This is the first thing someone sees, so make it count. It’s also what’s shown when a LinkedIn Profile appears in a Google search.

Having a nice, professional-looking photo is critical. The picture should be a close-up of your smiling face…not a shot showing you skiing, watching TV, playing video games and so on! This doesn’t have to be expensive. The camera on a cell phone can take an adequate photo.

It’s important to have a well-written Summary, including Specialties. Someone who’s worked for years should have a lengthy “story” of their professional career. For a recent graduate, the Summary is more forward-thinking: “what I want to be when I grow up.”

Obviously, a recent graduate may not have much experience. It’s OK to list volunteer activities here—especially if they pertain to your career goals. It also means you can get Recommendations for these activities!

And, speaking of Recommendations, you can also get them for your education. This is a great way to connect with instructors—and to start building your connections with classmates.

Start connecting with “adults” that you know…or hope to know. Be honest when asking to connect. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell someone that you’re hoping to work in their field or industry and that you want to learn from them. Look at the Groups they’ve joined and join them, too. Take part in the Group Discussions…or at least read them!

Don’t forget to join Alumni Groups on LinkedIn. They’re a terrific way to make connections!

LinkedIn is a great way to highlight that a recent graduate is also a professional…and would make a good addition to any business. It seems daunting, but it’s worth it.

If you’re a new graduate and on LinkedIn, please connect with me! Click here for my Profile.

Good luck!

PS – Click here for a white paper on “Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile.”

14 Comments

  1. Deb,
    This is a really great article! I find LinkedIn to be quite scary and honestly don’t get on very much except to keep up on my groups. You have wonderful advice for recent graduates and any college students. I never thought about connecting with professors, that is a genius idea! Thanks for the tips.

    • Thanks! I find that the most activity I get that leads to people contacting me directly, is from my participation in groups. Connect with your professors and ask them for recommendations now, rather than waiting. You want to get their wonderful comments sooner rather than later! The qualities that make a good student also make a good professional.

    • Thanks! The old ones are definitely who are hiring – and they’re technically savvy enough to look online at candidates. With so many people applying for so few positions, people need to look for every advantage they can get. So, it just makes sense to have a great LinkedIn Profile!

  2. LinkedIn definitely has helped me make great connections, I’d highly recommend it to the 85% of new college grads that are moving back in with their parents!

  3. Here are really helpful tips as I am currently in the process of making over my LinkedIn profile. Please post more tips like this as they definitely help people who are new to LinkedIn like me. Thanks!

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