Don’t Wait Until You Graduate to Start Networking

Written by Rebekah Lu

Although you might not be able to land your dream job right out of college, there are a few things you can do while still in school to make it more likely. Networking while you are still a student is one of the best. You can network in person, and definitely should, but there are on-line networking options as well. These can be especially helpful to on-line students who may not be able to make it to on-campus recruiting fairs.

It is estimated that as many as 80% of all jobs are not advertised. The only way to find out about these opportunities is to network and to get your name and qualifications out there where recruiters can see them. One place to do that is LinkedIn, a professional networking site used by most recruiters to find candidates.

LinkedIn is free and creating your profile is relatively easy, but it’s worth putting a little extra effort in to help get you noticed and stand out from the crowd. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Fill out your profile completely: Once recruiters have found you they are going to look at the information that you provide to determine if you are a good fit for the position they are looking to fill. LinkedIn makes this step easy by measuring the completeness of your profile and giving you tips on how to improve it.
  • Be yourself: While use of the first person is not usually recommended for resumes, you can use it on LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as more of a conversation. Be friendly, but keep it professional—be someone you would like to work with.
  • Choose a good picture: Many of the people who you will connect with on LinkedIn may have never met you in person. Think carefully about the image you want to project. It should be of someone who would be a good fit for your chosen career.
  • Use the summary: Don’t underestimate the summary, it’s a great opportunity to get the attention of recruiters that are looking for specific keywords. Take a look at job postings for positions in your chosen field and use keywords, as appropriate, in your summary. Many employers are now using software to scan for keywords, so this a good place to spend some extra time.

There are a number of websites out there that can provide more tips on creating an awesome profile on LinkedIn. Once you’ve finished designing your site, don’t forget to start connecting with people. You’ll of course want to connect with fellow classmates and even professors, but it’s never too early to start connecting with recruiters. The more you get your name out there the more likely it is that you will get noticed by someone who may just be hiring for your dream job!

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