As professors, we want nothing more than to contribute to our student’s success. We hope to stretch their minds with ideas and offer relevant assignments that will positively affect our students long after they are in our classroom. Requiring students create and maintain a LinkedIn account is a relevant assignment that can positively impact their future career success. If you’re interested in advancing your students ahead of many unprepared graduates, read on to discover the Top 4 Reasons We Make Our Students Create a LinkedIn Profile.
Reason #1 We want to increase our students chances of landing their dream job after graduation. 9 in 10 companies use LinkedIn to recruit new hires. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet, with over 450 million members in over 200 countries. The Director of the Deborah and Dominic Caruso Undergraduate Career Services Office at the LeBow College of Business, Lisa DeLuca states, “We feel strongly that all of our students should have a stellar LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is an essential part of the hiring process for many organizations and LinkedIn enables professionals to give additional information about themselves over and beyond a resume to help themselves stand out from the pack.” College students across the nation are catching on. According to LinkedIn’s website, 40 million students and recent college graduates belong to the network and are currently the fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn. Success The Ultimate Guide to College, Career, & Personal Excellence urges students to begin writing career goals in their first year of college. Building a LinkedIn profile in the first year of college is an excellent short-term career goal that can grow with the student to actively prepare them for the job search. “Social media is creating a paradigm shift in education as well as the hiring process,” says Mo Vincic, Interim Campus President and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at Ivy Tech Community College, “Empowering students with a global networking platform to grow throughout their college years is an excellent way to increase student’s chances of getting hired.”
Reason #2 We know the importance of creating a professional brand.
85% of employers say that a positive online reputation influences their hiring decision. According to a Pew Research Center study, 90% of college students use social media. From eat and tweet food photography to trending memes on Instagram, social media plays an integral role in the lives of our college students. We need to take their enthusiasm for technology and teach them to utilize social media in a way that will benefit them professionally. Requiring students to create a LinkedIn profile guides them in developing a positive, professional brand that they are proud to display to the world. Sara Babitt, Director of Accounting and Finance Recruiting at Xplora Search Group, states, “A solid resume doesn’t cut it anymore. Students need to start building their “brand” during their college years and turning their relationships and connections into opportunities and it takes time to build relationships, so it’s best to do this before they need to!” Lisa DeLuca, Director of the Deborah and Dominic Caruso Undergraduate Career Services Office at the LeBow College of Business confirms this, “Even if one isn’t looking for a job currently, a strong profile allows recruiters to find you and contact you with opportunities that you wouldn’t even be aware of. A stellar LinkedIn profile will enhance one’s ability to increase their network, which could lead to future opportunities. It’s one’s online, professional brand.”
Reason #3 Students can engage in virtual professional communities. LinkedIn’s Group feature allows students to connect with others in their field of study and engage in virtual professional communities. We ask that our students join at least 1 Group that relates to their future career interests. Students then use that group membership as a platform to reach out to experts in their field for an interview. Our experience is that even top executives will take the time to help students with this assignment, which allows students to connect with experts and potential future employers. One of our students, Ana Bizarro Aguilar, reveals, “Thanks to my new LinkedIn profile I’ve been able to communicate with people of all age ranges, sexes, and locations around the world. LinkedIn specifically connects me with people interested and/or experienced in the same career path I walk! All the new people I’ve met through LinkedIn, including an ICS Cyber Security Advisor from the United Kingdom, a Cybersecurity Strategist and Author from Georgia, and a GISG Cyber Security Technologist from Dallas have solved many of my unanswered questions and opened up potential job opportunities.” Cevn Vibert, CBS Cyber Security Advisor adds, “I use LinkedIn to form social groups of like-minded people. I am a member of 50+ groups and have created and manage a few of them. This gives me more direct access contacts. My total searchable 1st degree connections total over 1 million people. This can be useful if you have a great new product or service or crowd-funded innovative solution for the market.” Networking with like-minded professionals in a virtual community gives students real world insight and allows students to stay current with trends in their field of study.
Reason #4 Students can research companies or industries where they would like to begin their careers and create lasting connections. Researching companies on LinkedIn can provide students with insight into the recruiting and hiring process as well as what others say about the company. Although a standard internet search can provide general information, a LinkedIn search additionally provides a list of contacts working at the company of interest, their position in the company, and their LinkedIn relationship. Students can use this information to connect with those employees to bring them one step closer to gaining employment at the company of their choice. Josh Monroe, Assistant Vice President Permanent Placement Services-Financial and Accounting, points out that students won’t be the only ones using LinkedIn to research their connections. “Having a LinkedIn profile can provide necessary information to fill in the gaps that may not be in a resume. When looking at potential employees, it goes a long way to have additional skills and certifications as well as referrals from other people that know you and can speak to your work and professionalism. High level decision makers use LinkedIn to further vet potential employees.” Through LinkedIn, students can research companies to stay ahead of the competition while creating lasting connections with a vibrant and diverse community that they can continue to grow throughout their career.
Call to Action
Do you want to ensure that your students are actively preparing for their future success after college? Are you ready to introduce your students to a global networking platform to increase their chances of landing their dream job? If so, here are some general guidelines for this assignment.
- Reserve a computer lab or allow students to take their phones out in class. Explain the importance of the assignment and guide students through it. Allow students to collaborate and help one another. Recommend that students link with you and with one another to begin to grow their professional network.
- Give student section requirements. We want students to create a profile that highlights their personality, while also ensuring they don’t miss any of the necessary components. Begin with the Name and Headline sections. Students may wish to use a headline that features their future career. For example, Future Pediatric Nurse currently studying at Ivy Tech Community College. Check out LinkedIn’s Profile checklist for more ideas. https://university.linkedin.com/content/dam/university/global/en_US/site/pdf/LinkedIn%20Profile%20Checklist%20-%20College%20Students.pdf
- Recommend that students include a profile picture, otherwise, LinkedIn members won’t take them seriously.
- Ask students to join a group in their field of study. You could additionally require students to contribute an article to the group or reach out to another member for an interview. See Reason #3 above.
- Require students to add a minimum of 10 skills. Give your students credibility by endorsing their skills. You may also want to include a written recommendation. Encourage students to support each other through the endorsement of skills. For example, students can endorse one another for teamwork or leadership they’ve witnessed throughout the semester.
LinkedIn is an asset for every student. They either leverage it or they don’t. Requiring students to create a LinkedIn profile today sets the stage for successfully landing their dream job in the future. Let’s all push ourselves to go beyond our course content, beyond this semester, and positively impact our students lives.
How do you use LinkedIn to foster student’s success? We’d love to hear from you.