What’s the importance of having a LinkedIn profile?

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by Megan Myers, Special to The Simpsonian

Almost every college student has a Facebook or Twitter profile they check daily, yet less than half of Simpson students have a LinkedIn profile.

Experts say having a LinkedIn could help a student through the career process beginning with research and networking.

At Simpson, there are 604 students who have a LinkedIn account, approximately 43 percent of the student body.

LinkedIn is a website where users create a profile to highlight experience and skills. It’s like an online resume, but it can be expanded with more details. It also allows professionals to connect with other people and companies.

According to the website, “LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the internet with more than 400 million members.”

Many students create an account shortly after coming to college if they didn’t already have one from high school.

According to Bobbi Meyer, director of Career Development and Civic Engagement, there are three purposes to a LinkedIn account for a college student.

The first purpose is for research.

Students can explore different career paths by using the search engine within the site. Since profiles are public, a user can find someone who has an ideal job and look at their experience listed. Users also have the option to research company profiles to scope out potential jobs and internships.

The second purpose is for recruiting.

During the hiring process, employers are likely to view a candidate’s profile. According to Meyer, she does this to anyone who applies for a position within her department. She’s also confident most other employers do this as a first step after receiving an application.

The third purpose is for scouting.

Scouters may find profiles from keyword searches and reach out to certain individuals about a position.

LinkedIn also has an alumni feature. This tool is helpful when looking into a specific company or geographic area to determine if there are any possible alumni connections. As of April 2015, there are 7,174 Simpson alumni who are using LinkedIn.

Cody Isabel, a sophomore, has had his LinkedIn profile since the end of his college freshman year. He made the account for his May Term class, CO-OP 119, which focuses on job shadows.

Isabel said he enjoys the alumni feature.

“I actually met an alum on there that’s doing exactly what I need to shadow for,” Isabel said.

He hopes this connection will help him begin the process.

Robert Lyons, a junior, has had a LinkedIn since his college freshman year.

“I think for juniors and seniors, it’s especially more important,” Lyons said. “And I think the more we get out into the professional workforce, it’ll become more important. I also know it’s important to keep your account active.”

Keeping your account active is crucial for LinkedIn, according to Meyer. Too often, she said, students create their account and do nothing with it.

“There is some risk is setting up a LinkedIn and then just letting it sit (stagnantly),” Meyer said.

Companies want to see users are active on their account.

One can do this by continuously making connections, following companies and liking posts that show up on the news feed.

For some general guidelines when creating a profile, Meyer suggests using a professional picture with proper attire, following companies, making oneself a more specific title than “student” and having at least 75 connections.