Backpack to Briefcase: The Merits of LinkedIn

In today’s world, there is an increasing reliance on technology and the idea of an individual being reachable all the time. Additionally, the concept of openness and transparency with one’s interests is emphasized through social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. We form intimate connections and friendships through connecting social media accounts and through the same way, find possible career opportunities through online networking sites like LinkedIn. The convenience and efficiency of such social tools like LinkedIn was exemplified in the seminar held by Beth Cahill at Garey Hall in the Career Center on Tuesday November 25, 2014.

Founded in 2002, LinkedIn allows rising career professionals to create a personal brand to attract employers. The website revolves around the question of “how should I market myself?” and transforms the traditional notion of networking to something more modern. LinkedIn adapts the concept of networking in person to an online version, where one follows companies they are passionate about and sends connections to people they know personally. Now, it plays a major role in finding individuals internships and jobs, as well as helping companies simplify the recruiting process.

LinkedIn particularly focuses on engagement–motivating individuals to elaborate on their employment history/personal hobbies, while also engaging companies to have a larger online presence to interact with individuals who are pursuing jobs. In fact, 93% of companies used LinkedIn as part of their hiring process in 2012. Instead of a cold, formal resume, LinkedIn provides nuance and depth to the individual. It allows a potential interview candidate to expand on what exactly makes them perfect for the job, filling out parts that are not mentioned in their resume but might make them an even greater asset for the company position.

Filling out one’s profile might initially seem daunting, but LinkedIn goes step-by-step introducing what fields to fill out. The basic free profile enables one to fill out a headline with their current job title and career ambitions. It gives an individual the option of filling out employment and volunteer history, as well as personal details like honors awarded or sports played. However, a strong LinkedIn profile includes all this and more–for employers to take notice, one must utilize a keyword rich summary that includes language from target industries or positions. For example, this might include words or phrases like “technical advising” or “excellent communication skills in a media-focused setting.”

Personally, the seminar taught me how to build and enhance my professional online presence. It also stressed the importance of connecting meaningfully with Villanova alumni.  In using LinkedIn, there are degrees of contacts one connects with, from your “first circle” to your “third circle.” Your first circle consists of close friends you know personally, while your second and third circle are acquaintances and friends-of-friends. LinkedIn also provides useful search tools to research companies and industries you’re interested in, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers or biotechnology. Moreover, LinkedIn’s search is so comprehensive it even allows you to search for opportunities that include people you know. It truly allows one to brand themselves and give companies a greater insight to an individual–a modern, innovative enhancement in addition to the traditional resume.

Comment below and add your thoughts about the usefulness of LinkedIn! What is your favorite feature of LinkedIn? What opportunities has LinkedIn helped you find?

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