LinkedIn is a social networking website with a professional emphasis. It offers an assortment of powerful tools that will help you connect with other people in your field(s) of interest, uncover career-related opportunities, and more.
Here are five key ways you can—and should—use LinkedIn to pursue your career-related goals as a CLA student/grad.
Build a Professional Online Presence
Think of your LinkedIn profile as your virtual résumé, but with much more room for detail and visual impact.
You can use your LinkedIn profile to highlight not only your various experiences and your educational background, but also:
- Your key skills and knowledge areas (including the Core Career Competencies that signify your career readiness as a liberal arts student).
- The positive recommendations you’ve received from professors, supervisors, colleagues, etc.
- Your experiences and educational background.
- Examples of your work.
- Your professional interests.
Tip: The documentation and analysis you do on RATE™ [Reflect-Articulate-Translate-Evaluate] will be helpful to complete to help you develop your LinkedIn profile. So if you haven’t started using RATE yet, now is an excellent time to do so!
Add Connections with “Warm” Contacts and Alumni
One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn is its ability to connect you with other people in your area(s) of professional interest.
“Warm” contacts—professors, advisors, and supervisors, as well as friends and family—are an excellent place to start, as are alumni (from CLA specifically and from the U in general).
Simply go to the U’s alumni page on LinkedIn to search for the profiles of your “warm” contacts and/or CLA or UMN alums. Once you find a person you’d like to connect with, click on the “Connect” button near their name and photograph to send them an invitation. (Note: A box will appear encouraging you to “...customize this invitation.” Take a few minutes to do just that instead of sending out a generic, impersonal invitation. In doing so, you will stand out as someone who is thoughtful and purposeful—and therefore worth connecting with!)
You can also join CLA’s very own LinkedIn group, which is made up of CLA alumni as well as current students; and/or use your LinkedIn profile information to join the UMN Alumni Association’s Maroon and Gold Network and populate your profile there.
Follow Relevant Professional Organizations, Groups, and Companies
Professional organizations, industry groups, and companies all offer LinkedIn groups for users who are interested in their offerings. Almost any topic or affiliation you can think of has some sort of group presence on LinkedIn.
Use LinkedIn’s search tool to look for groups of interest, then join the ones that match your professional (or even personal) aspirations.
Two Essential LinkedIn Groups for CLA Students
College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities)—more than 9,000 members
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Career Insights (UMN alumni)—more than 276,000 members
Research Companies, Industries, and Graduate/Professional Programs
Do you have your eye on working for a specific company, pursuing a specific industry, or applying for a specific graduate/professional program?
Search for it with LinkedIn’s search tool. Chances are it will have a LinkedIn presence you can use to learn more about the entity and follow its key news updates. You can also find people that work at this organization to connect with and request an informational interview.
Search for Job Openings
LinkedIn has evolved over the years to offer job listings, too. Just click on the “Jobs” link at the top of your profile page anytime, then search for open positions by keyword, location, or career interests.
LinkedIn users often post job openings on their own news/sharing feeds, too.
If you need help building a compelling LinkedIn presence and making the most of the site’s offerings, visit CLA Career Services to meet with a peer coach or career coach.