LinkedIn links up job seekers

The Career Center launches its online presence this semester, using the social networking website LinkedIn.com to help students find jobs.

“We are meeting students where they are,” said Debbie Darling, a Career Center industry specialist for humanities and social science. Darling hopes to connect with students via social networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a professional social networking website designed to help connect its 75 million users to job opportunities and field-specific resources. Recruiters and hiring managers use the website to find candidates and make connections with prospective employees.

Jim Case, director of the Career Center, hopes LinkedIn will work as a platform to connect the 49,000 users that list Cal State Fullerton as their school with students seeking jobs and internships.

“It’s (LinkedIn) a huge database of potential opportunity for students,” Case said. “Students can build an online network that goes beyond people on campus.”

On LinkedIn, users can create a profile that lists experience, educational background, specialties and current job positions.

Other LinkedIn members can write recommendations and refer users to each other. Users can join groups specific to their fields of interests, jobs and schools where they can connect with other members and interact with prospective employers.

Laura Neal, a Career Center industry specialist for arts, entertainment and communications, encourages students to use LinkedIn as a supplement to a paper presence.

“It’s an electronic résumé,” Neil said.

Neal thinks LinkedIn is going to have more endurance than social media websites like Facebook and the once trendy MySpace.

“It is more about public image,” Neal said. “There are no vacation photo albums, no Farmville, no hugs, no hearts.”

The Career Center created a group on LinkedIn to assist students with creating online portfolios. The group provides information on interviewing, résumé building, available internships, Career Center workshops and more. Within the Career Center LinkedIn group, there are nine subgroups, focusing on specific aspects of job searching.

Darling moderates the subgroup “transitioning your military experience into the private sector,” which helps CSUF veterans sell their military skills on their résumés. With this subgroup, Darling has been able to better contact veterans on campus and provide them with resources, while giving veterans a platform to connect with each other.

The Career Center subgroup, “networking and using social media in the job search,” gives members advice and resources on how to successfully use social media like LinkedIn and Facebook in the job search.

“More and more students are setting up LinkedIn accounts,” said Case, who moderates the subgroup. “They think of it as a social or recreational space. We help students learn how to use the tool and focus on creating a professional environment to promote career success in graduates and alumni.”

The Career Center is hosting a career networking workshop on Oct. 21 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., which will focus on online networking and face-to-face interaction with prospective employers.

Every Thursday, the Career Center hosts an open lab for LinkedIn, where students can get one-on-one help with creating an effective and professional profile. The lab is 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Langsdorf Hall 210G.

“(LinkedIn) can be intimidating,” Case said. “But everyone has to start somewhere. If students are not learning how to use it, they are underselling their future.”

A strong LinkedIn profile can make a difference in the job market. Here are some tips to enhance your online presence and get noticed by employers:

1. Use a professional profile picture. Use a high-quality, professional headshot as your profile picture. Take the photo against a plain background, keep hair out of your face and dress professionally.

2. Use keywords in the “Specialties” section. Use words that someone might use when searching for a specific job or type of candidate for a position. For someone majoring in business, good keywords would be: risk management, operational excellence, finance, analysis and business development.

3. Update your status frequently. Updating your status will help you get noticed by others, and will enhance your profile’s search listing. Statuses can be about recent accomplishes, books you have read, or projects you are participating in.

4. Personalize your profile headline. Consider your headline as a professional introduction. Keep it simple (“student at Cal State Fullerton”) or be more specific (“honors graduate looking for analyst position”).

5. Get recommendations. Recommendations from other LinkedIn members can boost credibility and serve as a mutual connection between you and a prospective employer. Ask professors, colleagues and employers for recommendations

About Erin Bradley