This semester in our senior seminar class we have focused on Facebook as the dominate social network and recently had a pretty lively debate about the role of LinkedIn in that arena. Where Facebook fails on the professional front, LinkedIn is stepping right in to fill that void. The first thing I had to do to fully realize the importance of LinkedIn was to get Facebook out of my head. Whereas Facebook is all about being social, LinkedIn is the exact polar opposite. When you post things on Facebook you worry about who’s going to see it and are your privacy settings set up correctly? On LinkedIn privacy doesn’t exist! Yes, I said that privacy doesn’t exist on LinkedIn, but it doesn’t need to. You want people to see what your skills are and what expertise you have to offer because that could be the key to a new opportunity right around the corner.
Over the summer I had interviewed for a new job within my company and unfortunately I was not selected. It’s disappointing when you don’t get a job but it happens and I take it as a learning experience. Recently, I was surprised to receive a connection request via LinkedIn from the manager I interviewed with. Even though I wasn’t the right candidate at the time I made an important business connection. I made a good impression during that interview and a good first impression is priceless. And then it clicked for me. Even though I didn’t get the job this manager still wanted to be part of my professional network. This was a very important realization on how relevant LinkedIn is becoming in its own little corner of the internet.
For any student that is about to graduate and for those that have a ways to go LinkedIn could become like a new best friend. Unlike Facebook, you have to actually spend time with your profile but think if it as an investment in your future. I don’t think you can say that about the hours you spend on Facebook. I have personally spent countless hours writing and adding entries because when it comes down to it my future employer could be viewing it. It also helped me re-do my paper resume but I think in this day and age that version might be on its way to obsolete. In my recent job searches (which you can also do right on LinkedIn) I have come across one company that only accepts applications via LinkedIn. I think this speaks volumes about where we are headed in looking and applying for jobs and the faster you jump on the bandwagon the quicker you may have a job offer waiting for you.
So don’t be scared of LinkedIn or think if you already have Facebook you don’t need it. I’m here to tell you it could be one of the most important decisions you make in your professional life. People are always saying that it’s all about who you know and in this case LinkedIn gives you a leg up on that part of the competition.
Albert J. Hayes Jr.
Senior, Information Science