Allie Clark | Collegio Reporter
Before Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and even MySpace, there was a social network considered to be more professional: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a social networking site created for members to connect with business contacts, search for jobs and contact potential clients. The social network was launched in May 2003, before other better-known social networks. It had more than 1 million users after its first year and now has more than 100 million users in over 200 countries.
David Hogard, assistant director for employer relations, says LinkedIn is a good tool for students seeking a professional presence online.
“Most students have a Facebook account and that’s fine,” Hogard said. “But generally Facebook isn’t considered a professional networking tool, whereas LinkedIn is. I think LinkedIn gives students a good opportunity to market themselves through social means.”
Sarah Duffy says she used LinkedIn as a tool during her internship search. She says she talked to her parents about it, and they suggested she connect with one of their old friends. Duffy says she found him on LinkedIn and started talking to him.
“I tried to find out if he had any connections with the company I was trying to get in with,” said Duffy, senior in communication. “It resulted in an interview and a recommendation letter and, essentially, a job offer. That’s exactly what LinkedIn is made for— to make connections with people.”
LinkedIn operates based on the six degrees of separation. The six degrees of separation is the idea that everyone is approximately six steps or people away, from any other person on Earth. LinkedIn uses three different degrees in connecting people on the site. When searching for a certain person, whether it is a potential employer for an internship, or the CEO of your dream company, LinkedIn will tell you whether or not they are within your first three degrees of connections.
Jason Bilberry, senior in business management, says most of the people he connects with on LinkedIn are alumni who are in professional careers right now. He says he looks at what they are doing, what they majored in and if they could help him out.
Hogard says he uses the network frequently with his job, so he can network with potential employers in human resource departments who are recruiting.
“That allows me to make a connection with them, and hopefully encourage them, and entice them to consider coming to Pitt State to do hiring and to recruit our students for various types of positions,” Hogard said.
LinkedIn also has profiles of several different companies that you can keep tabs on. It also allows you to see what jobs are available in those companies. The network has a basic job search engine where you can search for different types of jobs and internships.
“It has helped me because I plan to move to Indiana in May, and I am not familiar with the area I am moving to,” said Michelle Hubbard, senior in graphic communications management. “LinkedIn has helped me discover companies there and helped me apply for jobs that are credible and salary positions.”
LinkedIn has many different groups for networking in certain skill areas and common interests. There are discussion forums where you can ask questions, get advice or just talk with people who have similar professional interests and goals. Another tool the network has is the recommendation tool where members can recommend others for their work at school, internships or jobs.
Hogard says keeping an online presence is important in today’s society. He says LinkedIn helps you do that professionally because it is like an online resume. However, just like a resume, students must remember to keep it updated if they want it to be useful.
“If they are going to have a LinkedIn presence, they are going to maintain and keep it professional like they would a resume,” Hogard said. “You want to put your best impression out there first.”