LinkedIn: The Professional Network

LinkedIn+logo

Rachel Lederer, Writer

Mary Hatlen, Career Services coordinator at Marian University, is an expert on any topic related to LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social networking site similar to Facebook in that it allows people to connect, but instead of with friends and loved ones, it is geared toward connecting employers and employees. This business-centered site allows users to create a complete profile that includes a catchy headline and features professional posts, not those about one’s social life according to Wayne Breitbarth, author of LinkedIn Success.

Creating a LinkedIn profile is simply done by going to LinkedIn.com, where students can set up one for free. Users can upgrade to premium, giving them the ability to see who has viewed their profile. For either version, students should include a profile picture with a neutral background and without any friends, since arms and other faces distract the viewer from the real person with the LinkedIn profile. Profile pictures are important as students without a profile picture can be seen as a red flag to recruiters, leading them to question why the user does not have a profile picture. If students have a photo, people are seven times more likely to want to look at that person’s profile.  Hatlen says that Marian is aware of this and on occasion has offered students the opportunity to have a photo taken for $15. In addition to campus offerings, some career fairs feature LinkedIn photo booths for participants as well.

A summary should also be included in the profile. This summary should include the student’s interest, goals and experiences. “The whole point is to sell your story!” Hatlen says. To attract prospective employers, students should learn how to speak a company’s language by including key words, which can be found by going to company’s website and looking for ones they generally use. When listing education, students should not only list Marian University-Wisconsin, but also majors, minors, and the type of degree they hold. Also remember to fill in volunteer work; the more the better! Students have the ability to connect with up to 50 groups and organizations who get feedback on their industry as well, leading to job and internship opportunities.

Once a LinkedIn account is created, students need to be able to keep the profile up to date. According to Breitbarth, a student’s goal on LinkedIn should be to increase SEO, or search engine optimization. In order to do this, students must remember to include a professional photo, acquire three LinkedIn recommendations, and have an online presence. Students should be actively involved with their Linked account through activities like posting content and connecting with other users to build their network.

Today, 77% of jobs are in the “hidden market,” meaning these jobs are not posted, but filled through connections that can be started on LinkedIn. In fact, approximately 94% of recruiters used LinkedIn as a networking tool to gather employees, says Hatlen. Not only can the site be used for job searches, it can also be used to reach out to Marian University alumni, important connections that could possibly lead to career down the road. With all these avenues of opportunity, it is hard to deny that LinkedIn is a powerful tool that should be utilized.

If you are looking for guidance when it comes to not only LinkedIn, but also a career, contact Mary Hatlen.