by Jenny Morris, M.S.Ed. | June 19, 2017
Working in career development for the past eight years, I regularly assist students with various career resources, documents, and strategies. One of my favorite resources to share is LinkedIn, a powerful professional networking tool. But, despite my enthusiasm, it’s not uncommon to receive a little pushback about its value and relevance for specific types of students. Adult learners, for example, have their own unique list of reasons why they’re not sure the resource is right for them. In fact, here are some of the explanations I hear most often – along with my typical replies.
“I know LinkedIn works for others, but…”“I’m a career changer, so my past experience isn’t really relevant to highlight.”
Nonsense. I see that your dream job involves supervising people. Have you ever supervised anyone before? Great! We should include that. And it looks like the position involves a lot of verbal and written communication. How would you rate your skills? What are examples of how you’ve used those skills in the past? We can highlight those successes here. “I’ve been a stay-at-home parent and out of the workforce. What accomplishments could I possibly list?”
Being a stay-at-home parent is one of the hardest jobs there is, yet I often hear people sheepishly tell me how they were/are “just” a stay-at-home parent. Okay – I’m guessing you didn’t lounge around on the couch during that time. Were you involved in your church, kids’ school, or other organizations? Did you lead a Girl/Boy Scout Troop? Coach a sport? Manage the household finances? Successfully keep the kids alive AND maintain your sanity? One of my favorite LinkedIn profiles is that of Michael Hoover
, a former stay-at-home dad, who humorously captures the skills necessary for this overwhelming role. One outcome boasts: “Increased performance metrics with three team members in their abilities to hit a large oval target approximately 1.5 ft. in diameter, with a small stream of water. Still coaching to actually replace said oval target's covering.”
I’d interview him in a minute. “I already have a resume and references. Why do I need this too?”
Using those documents is a great way to get your LinkedIn profile started, but LinkedIn doesn’t replace the need for a resume, and the same is true the other way around. LinkedIn allows you to go into greater detail on your accomplishments without the 1-2 page constraints of a resume. It also allows you to upload work examples that can support the written successes you’ve shared. And best of all – employers are already on LinkedIn and looking for candidates. Having a presence allows employers to read about your experience, accomplishments, recommendations, and skills. And it allows you to learn more about the employer and the individual(s) who will be interviewing you by researching their company page and individual profile(s). “I’m not even close to graduation. Shouldn’t I wait to create a profile until I can add my degree?”
Nope. Just add the degree you’re pursuing and the date you plan to graduate. Employers will be able to see that you’re working toward a degree in that area while also reviewing your past experience and skills. Some employers will even hire a candidate prior to earning the desired degree if the candidate is a great fit. “I’m more of a private person and don’t want my professional information and activity available for all to see.”
I’ve heard this statement a lot, and I understand. Fortunately, this is an area where LinkedIn offers a lot of customization to fit your comfort level. There are options for how your profile appears to others in searches, who can see your connections, who’s viewed your profile, how your profile edits appear to others, etc. “I don’t really want another social network to manage. How much time does this take?”
We’re all busy, and none of us need one more thing to do. But you can be successful on LinkedIn without it consuming your life. Once you create your profile, you don’t need to make any other changes unless you want to add additional skills, experience, degrees, etc. I usually just tell people to remember to update their profile when they update their resume. As far as researching or connecting with individuals, jobs, groups, and employers, those can be done at your discretion. Finally, through the communication settings, you can control how and how often you receive information from LinkedIn.
In summary, you can sit back and list excuses as to why you’re not on LinkedIn, or you can join the 467 million LinkedIn users who are ready to connect. And you’re not on your own. Marian’s Exchange office is here as a resource and can meet with you one-on-one to help you get started. You just need to take the first step and reach out.
So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to be LinkedIn – or are you going to be left out?Jenny Morris is the Director of Career Development for The Exchange – Marian University’s career office dedicated to promoting experience that matters. The Exchange works with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and employers to prepare students for experiential learning; to assist students and faculty in locating such engagements; and to teach students how to market themselves for future opportunities. For more information or to connect with The Exchange, visit www.marian.edu/exchange or contact the office at 317.955.6500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.