While LinkedIn might sound like a boring website for 40-year-olds, there's actually 87 million millennials on LinkedIn with 11 million in decision-making positions. So whether you're a recent graduate looking for a job, a current college student considering applying for internships, or just a curious freshman who wants to explore future career paths, there's a place for you.
1. You can learn what's out there.
If you feel like you don't know exactly what you're going to be doing post-graduation, you're not alone. As a communications student, I have such a broad range of options that it can be hard to narrow down what kinds of jobs I'm going to be looking for in four years. But on LinkedIn, I can simply type in "Public Relations" and a whole list of positions from all over the country pop up, with their descriptions and necessary qualifications. Yes, it really is that easy.
2. It's not about who you know, it's who knows you.
Even as a freshman, there are already meaningful connections to be made. Connect with classmates, upperclassmen, and professors. Beginning to network early on can only help you. Who knows, one day you may need a recommendation from someone and you'll be thankful you can reference your contacts list on LinkedIn to send them a message. There is also a section on your personal page where people can write public recommendations for you.
3. You can add it to your resume.
In today's digital world, having a positive online professional presence is vital. LinkedIn is basically a live version of your resume - it's like building your own personal brand. But it's more than your resume... it can highlight details that you couldn't include in a traditional resume. This is your chance for your personality to come through, as it can be more personal and engaging. Have connections endorse certain skills you have such as "public speaking" or "teamwork" to further validate the strengths outlined on your resume. If it applies, upload or link examples of your work.
4. You can get a job.
According to Jobvite's 2016 Recruiter Nation Report, 90 percent of recruiters valued LinkedIn as a vetting source for candidates under age 45. If you're looking to be hired, having an updated profile is a must. Once you have landed an interview, it's a good idea to research the company you could potentially work for. Read through their page, see what kinds of employees they look for, and check to see if you have any mutual connections that work there and could put in a good word for you.
Stop scrolling through Instagram, and spend a few minutes to check out what LinkedIn has to offer. Get started on that profile: Start with your basic contact info and a profile picture (preferably a headshot or if you don't have one, the most professional photo you have). Write a summary to introduce yourself and what kind of worker you are. Add experiences to your page, both employment and volunteer work. Using images and videos to create a visual portfolio creates a unique and personal touch to your standard resume information.
From there, start connecting! It's always smart to check in regularly and stay active, both to see what's happening in your industry and to keep up with your own profile. If you find yourself at a loss and realizing that you have nothing to put down for any experiences, don't worry. Take this as a challenge to be more involved and seek those experiences that you will be proud to write about. If you're already a LinkedIn expert, please feel free to leave your tips in the comment section below.