LinkedIn is a resource that is used widely to help employers find qualified people. Its main purpose is to help people network, which can be useful when moving toward a certain career path. This is why many career development classes and business professors at BYU-Idaho require their students to create profiles.
Understanding why networking is important
Lauren Camilleri, a sophomore studying business supply chain, used LinkedIn to connect with an alumnus, whom she interviewed about her chosen field of study and how it could apply to the real world.
“It was really cool because that was how we were able to connect, and if I had not had LinkedIn then I wouldn’t have been able to reach out to him and still be able to communicate with him to talk about supply chain management,” Camilleri said. “He gave me some advice about internships and my career path in the future.”
Networking might seem like one of the harder skills to master on LinkedIn, but it is one of the most important ones, according to Drew Eagar, the business marketing department chair.
“In most fields, most of the jobs that are available you find through networking rather than looking for jobs online,” Eagar said. “And if you are going through the typical recruitment process, most HR coordinators and directors will look at your profile, and if it looks plain, it can be problematic because that is where your resume is by today’s standards.”
He also explained that creating contacts or “links” takes as little as two minutes. Connecting with different employers can be done through the filters that are offered. You can filter by the career field you want to go into, by state and school. This means that you could connect with alumni from BYU-Idaho and reach out to different individuals to understand their job positions more and have contacts.
Winning the LinkedIn lottery
Eagar compared finding a job on LinkedIn to winning the lottery. Most of the time employers will not directly reach out to you for job positions, which is why networking can be one of its most important purposes.
Sometimes potential employers will reach out, but that cannot be the sole reason that someone has a LinkedIn profile, because they may be very disappointed.
Rebecca Pond, a senior studying sociology, won this proverbial lottery. Through LinkedIn she created contacts and connected with many executives and managers in Melaleuca. As she continued to network, an employer reached out to her and asked her to apply for a position.
Keeping an updated LinkedIn profile can help you to broadcast your professional skills and keep you prepared to win the career path lottery.
Photos Create a More Professional Profile
Photos are an important part of the LinkedIn experience, particularly for employers. It’s one of the first things that they see, along with your resume experience. Eagar said that the photo should match the professional level that is expected from your employer.
Potential employers and contacts do not look over profiles the way a judge might judge a beauty contest. Even though this is the case, Amber Mayes, a junior studying web design and development, said it is still important to maintain a professional appearance.
Mayes has been helping students create professional profiles at the Career Networking Center for four semesters.
“The most important thing you need to know is making sure (your profile) looks professional and that you present yourself in a way that makes employers want to reach out to you, so you are specific in your headers and experience so people will actually reach out to you,” Mayes said.
Creating a professional appearance can be important and the BYU-Idaho Alumni office knows that. It helps students with LinkedIn training, similar to the role of the Career Networking Center, but it offers one additional feature.
Students who walk into the Alumni office can get a free professional photo taken almost immediately.
Both of these offices are located in the Manwaring Center, and both make appointments with students to help them create professional LinkedIn profiles. If you or someone you know needs help unlocking the secrets of LinkedIn, these resources are readily available.