LinkedIn: Connect for Future Employment

Brittany Hayes, Reporter

LinkedIn is quickly becoming a resource for incoming freshmen and departing seniors.

Incoming students can use LinkedIn as a way to connect with alumni and to gain background knowledge on different fields they are considering.

Carolyn Yencharis Corcoran, Assistant Director of the Insalaco Center for Career Development, believes LinkedIns will give students an idea of what to expect not only from their course load but also what the workforce in a given field is like.

“One way for them to figure that out is on LinkedIn they can do a search on Misericordia University for anybody who would have, say, finance under their education. They would find an alum who worked in the finance industry either now or in the past. That student can send that person an invite to be part of their professional network and then that person would be available to them. They can send that professional an email asking them how they got into the field and do they like (the field),” said Corcoran.

Corcoran said the searches may help students narrow down their interests and major choices. Students will then also have connections to those professionals once they obtain their degrees.

For outgoing seniors ready to enter the workforce, LinkedIn can be useful a tool because many employers are moving away from common job posting sites.

“It costs employers a lot of money to post their jobs on places like Monster, but it’s a lot less expensive or even free on LinkedIn. The employers that we have talked to said you are crazy if you are not on LinkedIn because that’s where they are putting their jobs,” said Corcoran.

Senior Alissa Burke thinks LinkedIn can be a wonderful tool for job searching.

“Depending on the job, I think LinkedIn could be a good resource. It allows people to explore personalities while also seeing their qualifications,” said Burke.

LinkedIn is also a useful research tool. For seniors looking for jobs or other undergraduates looking for internships, LinkedIn can provide information about what companies are working on and use that to their advantage.

“Say you’re a senior and you have a job interview, a job interview with Kraft, and you can follow them on LinkedIn and see what the dialogue is that week. Once you’re aware of that dialogue be- fore your interview then you can bring that up to them at the end of that interview,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran said other social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are also good tools for learning out about the culture of a company.

“I would absolutely recommend if you are interested in a company to follow them on Twitter. What are they tweeting? You get a good idea about what their culture is about and what they are concerned about by following them on Twitter,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran also urges students to look at mini-advertisements prospective employers might be posting on LinkedIn, YouTube or any other social media sites as this may also be a way to find out what is important to the company.

Other undergraduates can optimize LinkedIn as a way to network with alumni and find possible internships because alums like to help students at their alma mater. Students can also network with professionals with whom they have no other connection.

“LinkedIn is beneficial because of the groups. There are professional groups out there that you can join. Let’s say you’re a sport management major, there’s a group out there called ‘careers in sports’ and you can join that group and see what info you can gather from that,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran said students using LinkedIn as a professional social media site must be aware that they are building their personal brand. This brand defines who a student is as a professional.

“If somebody were to ask you the question, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ the three, four sentences that you would answer that with is your personal brand. I want to emphasize that this is your professional personal brand, not your personal- personal brand. It is how you present yourself to the professional world,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran said students who haven’t yet thought through their brand should consider it before trying to obtain an internship or a job after graduation.

“Somebody will ask you that in an interview. For students, this might not be necessarily defined for you right now, but you need to think about this,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran said the importance of networking cannot be overstated, and social media is a readily available tool to use to get started.

“Eighty percent of jobs are obtained through networking. Networking is the lifeline of a professional. You need your professional network, not just to seek jobs but you never know what you’re going to need them for. You always want to be connected with them,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran said she optimizes her professional network frequently and that it has helped her to connect with the speaker whom MU will have on campus to talk about LinkedIn.

“If I am seeking advice or information on something, I can go out there and ask them. In fact, to get this speaker I asked my professional network. I said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for someone who can really talk about LinkedIn. Do you know anyone who would be willing to come to my campus and speak?’” said Corcoran.

Likewise, Corcoran has helped professionals in her network.

“I’ve had my professional net-work contact me and ask me to do things. I’ve served as a judge for a debate conference. They might ask me, ‘Are you available to talk to students about a career path?’ When I’m looking for advice on things, anything, if I’m having an issue on a professional level I try to connect with my network and see if there’s anybody out there who can help me,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran stresses that students must be aware that future employers will be looking at their posts.

“This is part of the personal branding thing. You are young adults. Like it or not, we are in an age where nothing is sacred if it is online. So if you have all of these things on your Facebook page, then they are going to be visible to someone doing a Google search on you, and employers do Google searches on you. They absolutely do,” said Corcoran.

Burke believes employers are putting too much weight into what prospective employees are doing on social media.

“There have to be boundaries with everything. When you are at work you shut off any personal drama until you leave and you also don’t bring your work home. The way people are outside their jobs is their business, no one else’s,” said Burke.

Burke also said that she hasn’t really given much thought to what future employers might think by looking at her social media profile,s but she doesn’t believe that she posts anything too outlandish.

“To be honest I never thought about that. I try not to post anything too extreme, but I don’t really think about future employers,” said Burke.

Corcoran thinks that students should be conscious of what they post because while posts may not seem offensive to them, they might be to employers.

“You have to make the decision to have an adult, professional image out there. You need to look at yourself from the perspective of future employers. If you are online or social media, there is no such thing as a private self so make sure the way you’re presenting yourself is something your potential 65 year old boss would be okay with,” said Corcoran.