Congratulations! It might be a little bit early to celebrate but chances are you are about to finish another year of school or maybe even graduate. Either way there’s a good chance that you’ll be looking for a job or an internship for the summer. For a task like this, it is important to take advantage of every possible outlet. Enter: social networking.
Not only are businesses starting to use social media themselves but some businesses are screening candidates and hiring through these sites. In a recent conversation with a business owner from Minneapolis, I was told that he specifically hired a candidate over another because he had talked to the person over Twitter. Now I don’t think that all businesses are going that far but they are definitely using social networking.
If you don’t use Twitter or don’t want to connect with businesses on Facebook, you should absolutely have a LinkedIn account. It’s a social networking site made specifically for your professional life. LinkedIn is a combination of Facebook and Twitter but it has many specific tools that help you further your career.
The first thing you need to do once you sign up for an account is fill out your profile. Add in your education history, job experience, skills and anything else a future employee might like to know. Then you start making connections with people you know. LinkedIn gives the option to mark everyone as a colleague, coworker or friend. These people become your “First Degree” connections.
First degree connections can fully interact with you as well as write recommendations for you and also introduce you to their first degree contacts. Before these people are introduced to you, they are second degree connections. LinkedIn will show you how everyone is connected to you by a small icon next to their picture. When you use the search feature, everyone that comes up will have a 2nd or 3rd degree connection symbol by there name and it will tell you which one of your first degree connections is connected to others. LinkedIn makes it really easy to connect and meet new people professionally.
The search function on LinkedIn is a strong tool in itself. You can look up specific business to check out what they do and follow when they’re hiring or not. This is a very good way to get noticed by a business if you are looking for a job or want to get an interview. It is also a great way to get into contact with the human resource department before you meet them at a job fair or anywhere else.
LinkedIn also provides some amazing tools to help in preparing for future jobs. I think one of the best tools is the Resume Builder. The name is pretty fitting because that’s what it does. It takes all of the information from your LinkedIn profile, gives you a couple of nice templates to choose from and builds a resume for you. It also gives you the options of exactly which categories you want on your resume so you can tailor it to different job opportunities that you are applying for.
The Career Explorer on LinkedIn is a very cool tool for not only preparing for your next job but for the rest of your life. The Career Explorer will walk you through, from the degree you are receiving in college to the final, multi-thousand dollar career of your dreams. Then it will provide you with people and companies currently hiring those positions, people in those industries, a map of the age distribution of those jobs in the US, a list of groups talking about those jobs and also a list of books to read that may help in your job search.
Along with the powerful search function, the Resume Builder and the Career Explorer, there are other helpful gadgets like the LinkedIn Browser Toolbar, the Outlook Social Connector, InMaps as well as a LinkedIn mobile app. All of these tools are helpful in their own ways and should definitely be experimented with if you are in the market or going to be in the market for a job.
There is a good chance that you are looking or will be looking for a job soon. In that case you should be taking advantage of every tool possible and LinkedIn is a great one that should be a necessity. Did I mention too, it’s completely free. Everything mentioned above can be used free of charge. There is really no reason not to further your professional image is there?
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