My friends always tell me to create an Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. At least I didn’t have to make a LinkedIn account, too.
I thought the correct order for using LinkedIn was 1) get a job and 2) make a LinkedIn profile listing that job under “current employment.” Recently, however, I have learned that a LinkedIn account helps you land the job in the first place.
LinkedIn has turned itself into the modern business card and resume, making it easier than ever for job candidates to network with both colleagues and potential employers at no cost at all. But just because LinkedIn accounts are associated with words like “professional” and “employment,” that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make one as an undergraduate.
Creating an account as early as possible is key to having the best network of connections. An early start also allows you to request recommendations from previous bosses and professors right after you interact with them. And the earlier you create a profile, the earlier you can start updating it with activities, research, awards, community service and work experience as you gain them.
Because of all the information available online, employers tend to search the names of candidates they interview. Establishing a professional online presence is crucial. You want to be sure that if someone searches your name, the first thing that pops up is your LinkedIn profile.
In a way, it can be more effective than a paper resume, because it matches a face to all the qualifications, and potential employers can feel like they know you. I’ve even heard stories of college students being sought out by employers for positions they never even applied to simply because the employer stumbled upon his or her LinkedIn profile.
If you’re not in a class that requires you to create a profile, winter break is the time to start. If you already have one, don’t let it be stagnant: You have to continue to update it. If you’re a regular LinkedIn user, I can’t say you’re ahead of the game (because of how fast technology moves), but at least you’re keeping up with it.
Nayna Shah is a freshman majoring in music composition.