What is LinkedIn, and How Do I Use It?
By Fran Hoepfner
LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals. Job seekers use LinkedIn to network with hiring managers and to score jobs. While many high school and college students have profiles on sites like Facebook, there are fewer students on LinkedIn. Compared to the other social networking sites, what makes LinkedIn different? Why should you create a profile? And how will that profile be different from Facebook?
Unlike other social networks, LinkedIn shows your connection to people that aren’t your friends yet. Imagine you want to get a job at a local bookstore, and that your guitar teacher knows the store’s manager. You can look through your connections on LinkedIn to find their link, and then ask your teacher to introduce the two of you.
Think of Facebook as trying to sell you as a friend using photos, status updates, and lists of interests. LinkedIn, on the other hand, sells you to a potential employer. You want to seem smart and hard-working. Make sure your writing has proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
On Facebook, you can get away with silly parts of your profile, like calling your religious beliefs “Oprah.” On LinkedIn, people are expected to take themselves seriously. While jokes may show a side of your personality, a LinkedIn profile is for describing yourself as an employee. Make sure that your LinkedIn photo is a normal picture of yourself.
The work you do at your part time job may be clear to you, but it’s important to describe the specific tasks you have done. If you babysit, go into detail. Say that you “were responsible for the well-being of two young children” and “made sure that they followed the rules of their household.” Those descriptions offer more detail by demonstrating your responsibility and leadership skills.
The Short List
1. Use your real picture. A picture of your cat may work for Facebook, but your LinkedIn picture should be you looking positive and professional.
2. Befriend adults. You may not want to be Facebook friends with your aunt and uncle, but LinkedIn is about getting connected with people that can get you a job. Networking with adults is a good way to do that.
3. Don’t be boring. Include your interests! If you like to bike, play guitar, and paint, include that in your LinkedIn profile. It gives potential contacts something to talk about, and goes to show more about your personality.