LinkedIn is a social media website primarily used for professional networking. LinkedIn was specifically created to connect you to potential employers and to facilitate education on industries and trends within specific fields. It can be a powerful tool throughout your career exploration and job search process.
Creating Your Profile:
LinkedIn is an extension of your online brand, meaning it is a representation of your values, skills, interests, and personality. Your LinkedIn profile should be an authentic snapshot of your online presence as a professional. Be sure that as you create your profile, you maintain a professional tone that is free from typos or errors. The goal in developing a profile is to increase your visibility on LinkedIn to recruiters and employers who are searching for talented candidates like you. The more active you are on LinkedIn; the more visibility you will gain.
Below are the sections of a LinkedIn profile. For more tips and a visual guide, visit LinkedIn’s profile checklist for ideas on how to get started.
Once you’ve created your profile, it’s time to expand your network. The people you add on LinkedIn are called “connections.” Start with the people in your industry that you know in real life, such as your professors, mentors, and peers in your industry. Focus mainly on people who work in your intended field; don’t just add all of your friends. Your friends may not work in your industry, and won’t help you when it comes to networking and visibility on LinkedIn.
Continue building your network by exploring who is connected with your connections. For people you don’t know, you can ask your connection for an introduction. Be sure to include a personalized message when reaching out so they know who you are and why you are contacting them.
In order to further develop your online brand, join groups related to your industry on LinkedIn. Many industries have professional organizations where you can participate in discussions that are related to your field. This is a great way to increase your visibility on the page and on LinkedIn, and a way to become noticed by employers and recruiters. Not sure what to join? Look at the profiles of your connections and join similar groups.
Another way to expand your network is to tap into the alumni presence on LinkedIn. The “Find Alumni” feature under the “Connections” tab on LinkedIn allows you to sort and filter through thousands of UF alumni based on employer, location, job function, and more. Connecting with alumni is a great way to get advice and mentorship from other Gators in your industry.
Using Your Network
As you begin looking for an internship, full time job or other experience, you’ll want to use your network to ask for advice or connections. Networking is the Number 1 way that people find positions, so use your LinkedIn network to your advantage. When you reach out to your connections, you aren’t asking for a job. Rather, you are asking for guidance and advice about how to go about your search. Setting up an informational interview can be a low-pressure way to get some help and advice relevant to your industry and search.
Here are tips for setting up an informational interview:
- Ask for a 20-30 minute meeting at their convenience, at their worksite, and assure them you know they are busy and you will be brief. For example:
- “Hi, Ms. Smith, my name is __________, and I’m a University of Florida student. I’m interested in the marketing field and I’m trying to find out as much as I can about it. I have read a lot about the area, but I really feel it might help to talk to someone who works in the field. I would appreciate meeting with you to discuss this occupation, if you have the time. The interview would only take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. My schedule is flexible and I can meet with you at your convenience.”
- If you call, ask them if they are free to talk for a few minutes. If not, ask them for the best time to call them back.
- Prepare for every interview by researching the company and having a prepared list of questions to ask. Some questions might include:
- What is a typical day in the life of a _______?
- How did you get interested in this occupation? What do you like/dislike about it?
- What is a typical career path in this occupation?
- What kind of academic/training preparation do you recommend for this occupation?
- What skills would you expect new professionals to have?
- What skills have you developed in your time in the field or within the organization?
- What skills should I be developing?
- What professional organizations you would recommend joining?
- What is the organizational structure and where does your position fit in the organization?
- Is there someone else you can suggest that I contact for perspective in the industry?
- If you were going to hire a new entry-level person, what would a highly qualified candidate be like?
- What are the major challenges/problems that your organization is facing in the coming year?
- What changes within the industry surprise you when you look back at your career?
- Dress in business attire and arrive early for the interview.
- When you meet your interview contact, shake hands and exchange greetings. Take notes during the interview. At the end of the interview, shake hands again, and express your appreciation for the interview.
- Follow up every interview with a thank you note by email or handwritten
Other Resources for LinkedIn:
Check out LinkedIn for Students for videos and handouts about all the ways to use LinkedIn to build your online brand, prepare for your job search, or develop as a new professional.
Make an appointment with a Career Planner to review your LinkedIn profile and discuss how to use LinkedIn strategically as a student or new professional.