LinkedIn’s search capabilities have been impressive for a long time, but the new LinkedIn for Education suite of features ups the ante on what you can find and how you can connect within this professional social network.
What do the latest features offer? Launched earlier this month, LinkedIn University offers a new way to explore career paths, based on the information LinkedIn’s millions of users provide through their profile pages. There’s potential for enhanced career exploration and development, as well as professional networking and job search leads.
When you log in to your LinkedIn account and view LinkedIn’s “Youniversity” landing page, you’ll see a main set of tabs and menus with entry points for Prospective Students, Students, Alumni, and more. Let’s take a closer look at how LinkedIn for Education can help current students and alumni bridge the distance between choosing a field of study and launching a new career.
Tools for Current Students & Alumni
Are you a college student or recent graduate? Whether you are studying at the undergraduate or graduate level, or have already completed a degree, these tools encourage you to become not only a more active participant within the network, but also a savvy researcher of career information. Click on the Student or Alumni tab and follow the LinkedIn prompts to get started.
Enter your school name.
This takes you to your institution’s University Page within the LinkedIn system. Here you will see a summary of where alumni who are registered users of LinkedIn are working (i.e., geographic location), and what they do (i.e., career and occupational fields).
Other features of the University Pages include a look at how you are connected with the school through your list of LinkedIn Connections. A list of recommended school-related LinkedIn Groups you may want to join is also provided.
Perfect your profile.
This is where it all comes together. When you connect with other users, a school, or company via LinkedIn, it’s your profile page that represents you often, making that first, critical impression on an employer. The system retrieves your profile page and recommends specific areas you should enhance, such as adding sections related to honors, awards, and extracurricular activities.
Search the student job portal.
This main page will give you a taste of current job postings based on the geographic location listed in your profile. The Student Job Portal asks you to begin by choosing a broad job function (or career field) from the list provided. Click Search to view a results page that you can further refine by selecting specific locations, companies, and experience levels.
Each position has been added to the LinkedIn system by the employer, and is linked to their LinkedIn Company page where you’ll find additional details about the organization and other job announcements.
Launch the Field of Study Explorer.
LinkedIn will suggest a list of academic and career fields you might be interested in, based on the details you’ve already added to your profile. My list was certainly accurate and included Psychology, Educational/Instructional Technology, and Education. You can also browse for other areas by name.
The results on this page (shown below) provide a total number of LinkedIn members that have studied the field, and graphs that show who their current employers are, in which field they work, and where they went to school. Use the navigation aids (small arrows to the left and right of the blue bar graphs) to access more information. Scroll to find out where these members live and how you may already be connected with those who studied this field.
Click on any of the blue chart items to dig a little deeper, narrowing the results as you go. For example, by selecting “Apple” and “Education” from the lists pictured above, I reduced the list to 66 members, 27 or whom are “2nd Connections” to me. If someone is a 2nd connection, this means that we have a 1st connection in common, who may be able to introduce us.
The LinkedIn Blog walks through a similar example, illustrating how the Field of Study Explorer can be used to identify career paths of fine arts majors.
Create a Decision Board.
You may already be thinking that this is a lot of information to keep up with as you move from screen to screen, search to search, revealing multiple results pages throughout LinkedIn. The Decision Board feature helps you keep track of what you are looking for and what you’ve found along the way, including notes and related conversations you may have with members of your network. You can share your board or keep it private.
Moving from Research to Practice
Learning to navigate the search functions and LinkedIn for Education resources is just the first step. Once you are comfortable conducting your own research within the system, it’s time to take action. How can you use this information to make better career decisions or land a new job? Use the tools described in this post to:
- Expand your professional network. Ask your current connections for introductions to “2nd” level connections. Reach out to invite other professionals working in your field of interest to connect. Let them know who you are, how you found them, and why you want to connect (i.e., fellow alumni, common experience or interest, questions about working in the field) in the text of the invitation message.
- Identify trends in education and training. When you find new connections through these tools, take some time to look at the degree level they’ve attained, any certifications or certificates they’ve completed (or listed in their profiles as in progress), and the specific topics they are studying. While you may not see these listed as job requirements from employers, you may be able to identify a few trends in your career field that inform your own professional development and continuing education efforts.
- Find relevant job postings. Use LinkedIn’s platform, in addition to company and job search websites, to identify jobs that you can apply for now. Work through the search screens to narrow your results to a few companies that are hiring in your field, and hiring alumni from your school. From that point you can further assess how you might fit the existing needs. If you aren’t ready to apply, knowing more about the skills and experience hiring managers are looking for helps you prepare for your next job search.
- Strengthen your college connections. One of benefits of enrolling in and completing a college program is becoming part of a larger group – the school’s alumni. This is an existing network in which you have something in common with every member. “Follow” your school to add its announcements, updates, and shares to your LinkedIn Home newsfeed. Find an upcoming event, online or in person, and attend. Reach out to someone who graduated from your school with a LinkedIn invitation.
LinkedIn for Education’s features are just a few of the helpful tools available to assist college students and alumni. Keep in mind that there’s no one “best” resource, “sure-fire” formula, or “perfect” path for career success. Add LinkedIn’s education and exploration tools to your list of resources, and work with your institution’s Career Center to learn more about making the most of your education and career opportunities.
Whether you are looking for a job, interested in continuing your education, or just want to stay current in your field, the LinkedIn network provides an avenue to get started.
Source: Inside Online Learning Blog