This article was contributed by UW Communications 363 student Shanel Scholz
With its recent celebration of its tenth anniversary, LinkedIn has become the largest social media platform created specifically for professionals to connect on the web.
With graduation season still fresh, you would think that every ne college graduate would be updating their profiles and connecting with other professionals like crazy.
But you would be wrong.
As a senior at the University of Washington about to enter the “real world,” I have left numerous career fairs and advising sessions bogged down with informational fliers about the powers of LinkedIn. I leave these events convinced that it’s almost impossible to be successful in a post-college world without these online connections. As a student who’s only heard great things about LinkedIn, I was curious why the percentage of non-users was so high.
I talked with executive recruiter and career coach Angee Linsey, who put it simply, “a lot of people don’t do a lot of things that are good moves. It’s just a fact.”
She thinks that every college student should create a LinkedIn profile, and doesn’t see why they don’t-it’s a free resource that doesn’t hurt to have.
“Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is a professional networking site. It is built and designed to let people make professional connections,” said Linsey. “LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to present yourself in a professional way and it is used by people who are looking to hire.”
The study finds that 90% of students are on Facebook and 78% are regularly on YouTube, finding that college students are very active on other social media sites. Unlike LinkedIn however, Facebook and YouTube are personal sites and don’t have the potential to get you a job out of college.
Employers looking to hire can easily search LinkedIn for qualified candidates based on their experience, education and skills. Linsey has even heard of people in high demand fields like technology having to take down their profiles because of the amount of job offers they get through LinkedIn.
I asked students around the University of Washington about their LinkedIn use and answers ranged from not knowing what the site is-to thinking it’s a fun resource. A majority of the students I talked to didn’t have profiles, but have considered creating them.
Rebecca McIntyre, a senior biology major, has heard about the benefits of LinkedIn from friends and advisors, but hasn’t created a profile for herself.
“I’ve never seen a significant reason to or seen an advantage to having one,” said McIntyre. “I think if I was in business or looking for a corporate position, then I’d be more interested in it.”
She says she’ll probably sign up on the social media site after graduation, but it isn’t a priority for her right now.
Linsey doesn’t think everyone on LinkedIn needs to be super involved on the site to be successful, but if you have something professional to share, then it’s a good place to do it. To her, it’s a competitive marketplace, so why not take the opportunity to present yourself in a positive, professional way on the Internet.
While many of the University of Washington students I talked to didn’t have a LinkedIn profile, creating one might not be a bad idea. Having a profile creates the potential to be found by employers and meet other professionals in your field.
“LinkedIn is not just a job search tool- it’s a professional networking tool.”