Tag Archives: College Students

3 times when LinkedIn is essential for your professional career

I am fortunate to lead career-search workshops and counsel job seekers individually. While some of my clients fully embrace the power of  LinkedIn to land a job, others don’t make great use of it. Some outright reject it.

LinkedIn Flag

As an example of the latter, one of my clients came to me, with tears in her eyes, after a LinkedIn workshop telling me that she appreciated what I taught her, but that she wouldn’t use it. I told her that it is alright, LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.

I’m feeling optimistic today and am addressing LinkedIn members who embrace the power of this professional networking platform. There are three times when LinkedIn is essential for your professional development.

When you’re looking for a job

If you are a job seeker, your journey with LinkedIn will be challenging. You will have to develop a profile that, like your résumé, will express your value and brand you. Unlike your résumé, it should depict you on a more personal level.

Yes, you’ll include your accomplishments and maybe some of your outstanding duties; but you’ll also elaborate on your volunteerism, create an extensive list of your skills, ask and write recommendations, and more. This is your online brand, so put a great deal of effort into it.

You’ll also have to get to work on building your network. To many people this is a hard thing to fathom. Reach out to people I barely know, you may wonder? Absolutely…but only the people who will be of mutual benefit. This isn’t Facebook, so you need to develop a professional network.

But reaching out on LinkedIn to unknown people isn’t enough, you’ll need to “touch” them in a personal way. Call them on the phone. Meet them for coffee. At the very least, communicate via email.

The third piece of your LinkedIn campaign is engaging with your new connections. Now that you have a stellar profile and have developed a network consisting of quality connections, it’s time to engage with your first degree connections. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” holds true.

Direct messages are the best way to engage with one or a few of your first degree connections, but if you want to reach more of your first degree connections (and their connections); you can share articles, ask questions, answer updates others have started, and Like and comment on shared updates.

When you’re working

ResearchMany people make the mistake of discontinuing their engagement on LinkedIn. Saying that you don’t have the time or energy is an excuse. Sparing even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. I still encourage people who are working to use LinkedIn every day.

First, announce your new job, if you haven’t already. Let people in your network know; they will see your Happy Landing in their homepage timeline. You will be congratulated on your new employment.

As well, be willing to alert your networking buddies to available jobs at your new company. Many of my clients have alerted their buddies to positions that are opened, and not necessarily advertised. This is the true definition of “paying it forward.”

Update your profile. Whenever you achieve an accomplishment, add it to your new position. If you don’t do this shortly after you’ve achieved an accomplishment, you may forget about it. Another reason to keep your profile updated is that you’ll be more desirable to potential suitors.

My valuable LinkedIn connection, Laura Smith-Proulx warns that you may not want to be too present on LinkedIn. You’ll want to update your profile slowly, as to not draw attention from your new employer to your profile.

This doesn’t mean you can’t stop learning while you’re working. You can read posts written by your connections or your favorite online publishers. Do this during lunch, or when you get in early in the morning, or at home. This could be your 10-minutes a day of using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is not only a great tool for finding a job, it’s highly effective for generating business. If your role is in sales, business development, or any other position which requires networking; use LinkedIn to reach out to potential business contacts. This, after all, is why LinkedIn was created in 2003.

The best of LinkedIn’s premium accounts for sales is Sales Navigator, which provides salespeople with the ability to identify potential buyers and tag them to keep their CRM manageable. As well, you get unlimited searches. This is a premium account that your company will most likely pay for if they value generating sales leads.

Read 6 reasons to use LinkedIn after you’ve landed a job.

When you’re in school/post grad

Elevator Your FutureRecently I conducted a webinar for college students and grads, addressing the importance of creating a powerful profile and connecting with LinkedIn members.

Although as a college student your profile may not be as developed and your work history not as extensive as people in the workforce for many years, you can still use LinkedIn to find employment or internships.

This is a great time for you to get on LinkedIn, while you have the opportunity to build your LinkedIn campaign. I call this getting on the elevator on the bottom floor. You have the opportunity to build up your network with quality connections.

Valuable connections can be alumni of the school you’re attending or have graduated from. These are people who have an affinity for their alma mater and, as an extension, an affinity for you. Think networking meetings when reaching out to them.

However, as someone who could provide you with great advice or even solid leads, they will only do so if you come across as a mature, dependable person. They will want to help but don’t want to waste their time.

How do you find your alumni? The answer is simple; use LinkedIn’s Find Alumni feature, which is done by typing your university in the Search feature, choosing School or Company, and then clicking See Alumni. You can search “alumni by title, keyword or company.”

One disadvantage you’ll have to deal with is the inability to rearrange your profile sections. As of now, your sections are arranged as such: Summary, Experience, Education, and others. Many students and post grads can benefit from showing their Education section below their Summary, as it is their most recent accomplishment.

The solution to showing your value is to pack your Experience section with industry-related employment or internships. The smartest students secure as many internships as possible during the school year or summers.

When describing your internship or industry-related employment, be as descriptive as possible. At your age, you may not have the outstanding accomplishments that older workers can tout. But most employers will understand your lack of work experience as long as you’re a quick learner and work hard to get up to speed.


Whether you’re a job seeker, employed, or a college student; LinkedIn can be extremely helpful for your career development. The way you use it will vary, but many of the principles are the same.

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4 skills college students must learn in college

Is it a lack of technical skills employers are most concerned about when they consider hiring college graduates? Nah, those can be learned.  It’s the lack of soft skills employers are concerned about. 

What do the following skills have in common: writing, presentation, teamwork, and critical thinking?

According to an article on Glassdoor.com, What Employers Wish You’d Learned in College, these are valuable skills lacking in most college grads with technical degrees.

True, they have the technical know-how but, “When soft skills are lacking, there’s a direct effect on the bottom line,” the article asserts.

College StudentWritten communications: We all realize that writing is an important skill, but what does it have to do with being an engineer?

A lot, according to HR director Amanda Pollack who is quoted in the article: “A big part of what we do as engineers is write reports and specifications for our plans, and we find that writing isn’t something that is really taught to engineers.”

Verbal communications: In addition to written communications, we can’t neglect to mention the importance of verbal communications, listening skills, and body language. These all contribute to effective communications. College students should be taught proper communications and have to practice it in real-life situations.

Would it be too far-fetched to require college students to attend Toastmasters or an organization similar to it?

Little emphasis was placed on presentation skills when I attended college, yet delivering workshops is my job. Somewhere along the way I learned the art of public speaking, but it was a long journey.

Similarly, project managers are expected to present to upper management the progress of the projects they oversee. Sales people rely a great deal on their ability to speak persuasively to their potential customers.

Some employers claim that communication skills, verbal and written, are the most important transferable skills an employee can possess.

Collaboration: Another skill held in high regard by employers is being able to function as a team. “Most importantly, employers are looking for teamwork,” said Brian Tabinga, a program manager who is quoted in the Glassdoor.com article.

No surprise here. Companies are working with less, while trying to produce more. Tabinga, who works with military members, says there’s no difference between the military and private sector in terms of trying to meet their collective needs.

How can colleges teach teamwork? Some elementary and middle schools are attempting to teach teamwork through collaborative projects—I’m surprised yet delighted with the number of group projects my kids work on.

More projects that are graded based on participation within a team is one way to ensure that students learn teamwork in college. Should there be courses offered on teamwork or, perhaps, minor degrees in “Collaboration?”

Critical thinking/Problem solving: The last skill the article mentions is critical thinking. Tabinga states, “Critical thinking means being able to look at a problem from multiple angles.

A lot of times you are trained to go from A to B in a straight line, and that’s not always what’s needed. Critical thinking means taking a step back to look at multiple solutions,” The article says.

All is not lost. The article gives four suggestions to help graduates develop these skills once in the workforce:

  • Get a mentor, someone in the office or outside work who can spot your shortfalls and coach you to improve them.
  • Listen openly to feedback from your supervisor.
  • Join young professional groups like The United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees), where peers get together to improve their career skills

To me, this seems a bit late. If colleges are interested in preparing students for the competitive labor market, they should do something about it before they release young students, strong on theory but needing improvement on their soft skills, into a world that requires employees to hit the ground running.

Photo: Flickr, Mikey Smith

Dear college students, 7 signs that you’re probably an introvert

college student studyingIt seems at times like you’re living your life looking from the outside in. When you’re asked to describe yourself, words like these come to mind: “quiet,” “contemplative,” “reflective,” “creative,” “thoughtful.”

You’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, so you’re not sure if you’re included in approximately 50% of of the U.S. population that are introverts. (Estimates range from 35%-51%.)

Are you an introvert? Chances are great if you relate to the following preferences:

1. You’d rather write a paper and communicate via email than communicate verbally. Your forte is writing papers because you have the time to research the topic and write down your thoughts. You have the ability to concentrate on the topic at hand, take time to formulate your sentences and paragraphs.

Group discussions can go either way for you; great because you’re hitting each point, or poorly because you prefer to think before speaking, unlike your counterpart, the extravert. If the class is being dominated by the extraverts, you may have a hard time speaking up. You have the correct answers but hesitate and miss your opportunities.

Note: Times like these will be a good lesson for when you enter the workforce where the extraverts can dominate the meetings, unless you find those small breaks in discussion to express your thoughts. No, don’t bother raising your hand.

2. You’d prefer to work alone or with one other classmate. While many people–mainly extraverts–think teamwork and brainstorming are the key to creativity, other wiser people know creativity can come from individual work. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, asserts that creativity has little to do with group collaboration:

“There’s a lot of nonsense floating around these days about how creativity is fundamentally social act. Ignore this. Yes, creativity is social in the sense that we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us….But for many people, the creative thinking process is a solo act,” she writes in a blog post.

Note: In the workplace a great deal of emphasis is placed on working as a team. You’ll have to contribute to your team’s efforts, ignore the useless prattle that may ensue. Take time alone to decompress from the many meetings and brainstorming.

3. Parties aren’t your thing. Alone you enter a crowded room blaring with loud music, scan the scene for a familiar face or two; and not recognizing a soul, simply leave unbeknownst to the host. Or you’ve been at a party for two hours and feel it’s time to leave, even though your classmates are just warming up. You’re tired and weary of making small talk that feels shallow to you.

Here’s a different scenario that is more palatable: some close friends ask you if you’d like to spend Friday night going to a movie or sporting event and then going back to the dorm room to engage in deep, meaningful conversation. Even though it’s 12:00 am, you’re thoroughly enjoying yourself.

Note: Your job out of college might include attending networking events, where you’ll have to engage in small talk. Always make sure you’re ready with talking points about current events, industry news, even sports.

4. You have fewer but deeper friendships. You marvel at your extraverted classmates who seem to know someone wherever they go. But when you look closer at their relationships, many of them are superficial and merely acquaintances. Your friends, on the other hand, know each others’ idiosyncrasies, secrets…in other words, know the whole self.

The drawback to having fewer but deeper friendships is that when the urge strikes you to go out for a party or a movie, your close friends may be too busy to hang out. This leaves you alone to go out for a quiet meal or a cup of coffee.

Note: You may be expected to interact with your future colleagues, lest you come across as aloof. Short conversations will be your preference with your acquaintances, so learn the art of breaking away smoothly.

5. You’re called a great listener. Your acquaintances marvel at your ability to listen to their problems and provide solutions. Justin’s girlfriend is showing signs of indifference, perhaps breaking off the relationship. You suggest not jumping to conclusions because the girlfriend is deep into her Engineering finals. You’ve become Justin’s, an extravert, new best friend, as he and his girlfriends are making amends.

Note: Similar to Justin’s story you don’t want to be cornered listening to your colleagues’ problems or simple chatter. Politely tell them you have work to do.

6. Tell her I’ll call back. It’s Mom calling, but you don’t have time to get into a long conversation about your sister’s wedding plans. You love Mom. But you hate the phone. At least if feels that way at the moment. Introverts have an aversion to the phone, because there are no boundaries when you talk with someone over the phone, not like e-mail.

Note: In the workplace customer relations often develop through telephone conversation, followed by face-to-face interactions. You’ll have to push yourself to pick up the phone at times to make or answer a call, even if it’s Mom.

7. There are times you’d rather…read. “Come on,” your dorm mate says excitedly. A bunch of your classmates are going out to do whatever. They’ve all agreed that they’ll let the wind take them where it may. It’s not like you’re not adventurous; you’ve shown the wild side of you in the past. It’s just that you’ve had a long day and would like to read a great book and maybe start another. This is your alone time and how you recharge your batteries.

Note: To fit in the organization, you may have to suck it up and go out to socialize with your colleagues, even the night before a workday. Do this sporadically to keep in good stead with your colleagues.


These are seven signs you might be an introvert. Your preference for introversion is not something to dread; rather it’s something to embrace, it’s you. I suggest you read Susan Cain’s book. It’s the best one I know of that explains the benefits of introversion in layman’s terms.

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6 steps college students need to take to be successful on LinkedIn

I believe that colleges should be teaching courses on LinkedIn and make them mandatory…for every student. Although this might seem extreme, the fact remains that increasingly more employers are using LinkedIn to search for talent.

Some sources like Jobvite.com estimate as high as 95% of recruiters search for and contact employers by using LinkedIn.

For two years I’ve been trying to impress upon my college-age daughter that she should take advantage of LinkedIn, especially at her young age when she can get on the bottom floor, but she’s no different than her classmates who haven’t the inclination to join this ever important networking platform.

The fact is that college students should be building their network before they need it. When I asked my daughter when she is going to join LinkedIn, she told me she’s got enough to handle with Facebook and Instagram. But she’ll seriously look into it when she has time, she told me with a smile. She brushed me off.

This will take time, I see, but I won’t give up. She’ll have to realize the advantages her generation has over jobseekers who are scrambling to join or strengthen their LinkedIn strategy. She and her classmates can join the party early, but they’ll have to do the following to be successful:

  1. Learn about LinkedIn. Learning about LinkedIn will give college students a huge advantage over people already in the workforce. What has taken years for workers of all ages, including myself, college students can get a head start on the process of learning the intricacies of this platform that is not extremely difficult to master, but will require a learning curve. This, to me, is reason enough to require college students to take courses on LinkedIn. .
  2. Begin constructing their profile. Now if you’re thinking they’re too young; keep in mind they need to produce a résumé for when they enter the labor market. This is just a start, but with guidance they can do it correctly. A former friend of my daughter began constructing his profile after his senior year of high school, and it was pretty good for a graduating high school senior.
  3. Develop a quality network. This network will consist primarily of colleagues of their parents. My daughter is considering becoming a nurse. I’ve suggested she talk with nurses I know. And while she’s at it connect on LinkedIn with these same nurses, providing they’re on LinkedIn. “Won’t that be creepy,” she’s probably thinking. No, this shows initiative.
  4. Connect with alumni. College students might be under the false impression that their alumni consist only of the people with whom they’re going to school. Their alumni are those who have gone to her school, those who are currently employed, and most importantly those who want to pay back the school that played a part in shaping their lives. Yes, alumni are complete strangers, but the goal is to turn strangers into networking contacts.
  5. Start their research earlier. Astute college students will use LinkedIn’s Companies feature to follow target companies. When they graduate, they’ll have more knowledge of these companies than their classmates. Further, they can identify top players in their industry. It is highly likely a college student won’t have a first or second degree connection at a company or organization; so an introduction or bold connection request will be required.
  6. Join groups in their major/industry. But what will I do in these groups, I hear my daughter thinking. College students should take their time to peruse the five groups or more they join to better understand about their potential colleagues. Consider this a way to gather information from the experts in your field, information you won’t find in your classes. Groups for nursing show 11 in my daughter’s geographic location. There are two specific nursing groups for her school.

You might be thinking making it mandatory for college students to take a course on LinkedIn, regardless of their major. extreme; but consider the advantages of learning about this premier networking application early in their lives. It’s hard to argue against this idea.

Dear College Students, here are 3 steps to take when connecting with your alumni on LinkedIn

This is a follow-up of a post called Dear College Students, please the following 10 LinkedIn tips.

college student2Dear College Students,

Now that your profile is in tip top shape, it’s time to think about how, as a new college student, to connect with other LinkedIn members. It’s time to develop your online network.

To help you do this, LinkedIn has a neat feature called Find Alumni, which is located in the Connections drop-down menu

Why is it important that you’ve created a profile and must now develop your network? Because the sooner you start your network, the more useful it will be when you graduate and have to look for a job. An old adage is: in the working world, the best time to network is when you’re working. So it stands to reason the best time to network is while you’re in school.

Finding alumni with whom to connect

Assuming you haven’t made any connections with your alumni, which also include those who attended your alma mater before you arrived, you’ll want to connect with them because they’re probably currently working and may know of opportunities or, at least, people with whom you can connect.

First go to How You’re Connected to the far right of the second screen. Most likely you have very few, if any, 1st degree connections. That’s alright. Focus on your second degrees. Select your 2nd degrees by clicking on that bar. You’ll see the other categories shift, the numbers decrease. This narrows your search for potential alumni contacts.

If you’re a communications major, you’ll focus on people who are connected with you under What They Do, e.g., Media and Communication. Look at where they work, what they studied, what they’re skilled at. This will give you a sense of your commonalities, as well as some talking points when you connect with them.

Connecting with your alumni

The largest advantage you have is your common bond with people who are going to school with you or who have attended years before. When you attempt to connect with them through their profile, the option Classmate has already been chosen for you.

This is where, as an aspiring LinkedIn professional, you need to carefully craft your invite messages. Under no circumstances will you send the default LinkedIn invite; that’s plain laziness. Instead, you’ll write a personalized note, which will show the professionalism LinkedIn members expect from each other.

Note: Even though you can hit Connect under the person’s photo, it’s still best to open their profile and choose to connect after reading it thoroughly.

Here’s what you might write after reading your potential connection’s profile:

Dear Mr. Schmidt,

As you’re an alumnus at the University of Virginia and are in the field of Marketing Communications, I’d like to take this time to reach out and invite you to my network. I will contact you to see if we can be of assistance to each other.

Completing the process

Your new invite accepts your personalized invitation because both of you share an interest in Communications and, most importantly are alumni. In your invitation you mentioned being of assistance to Mr. Schmidt. Where many people fall down in the process is not following through.

Be true to your word by contacting him via e-mail when he accepts your invite. Also write down some questions you’d like to ask Mr. Schmidt regarding the line of work he does. Make them intelligent questions; don’t waste his time. Ask him if he might know of anyone who you could also speak with. Finally, tell him you’re at his disposal should he need assistance.

The process of building relationships can be  a long one, but because you’ve just begun your education, you have plenty of time developing long-lasting relationships. These are connections that can be of great help to you once you’ve graduated college.

Job search experts, 7 tips for networking

students networkingOne of my LinkedIn connections, Rich Grant, ponders the question, “Why do college seniors have a hard time networking?” In an outstanding article, Teaching Networking and Professionalism to College Students, he writes: “I’m not speaking out of line, or disclosing any deep secrets, when I say that, generally speaking, college students and recent graduates are not adept at face-to-face networking.”

My observations of jobseekers in age groups older than college students, and as high as mature workers, is similar to the sentiment Rich expresses; networking doesn’t come natural to many people. After pondering the reasons why networking is such a task for students, he provides seven sound tips to help people network.

Read the article in its entirety to learn Rich’s excellent tips:

  1. Define “networking” before you name it.
  2. Recommend they start with the people they know.
  3. Practice makes perfect.
  4. Show, don’t tell.
  5. Provide opportunities for students to build confidence in speaking.
  6. Watch for outside events where the topic of networking is being addressed.
  7. Connect with experts to support your efforts.

If you are a college career advisor, job coach, or a job-search advisor at any level; following Rich’s advice can help you guide your jobseekers to better network. Read Teaching Networking and Professionalism to College Students realizing that this advice applies to all age groups, not just college students.