LinkedIn Limitations

Vanessa NewtonVanessa Newton, program analyst, University of Kansas
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vlnewt
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/vanessaliobanewton
Blog: www.wellnessblogging.com

I cannot tell you how many times I hear people chirping on about how great LinkedIn is and how useful it is to “up that knowledge rate” on your first-destination survey. And while I agree with that, I think it’s time we acknowledge some of the limitations of relying on LinkedIn for information. Blame it on my scientific research background, but I think discussing and acknowledging limitations is a good thing.

A lot of companies are selling their services to look up your graduates on LinkedIn. For just 50 cents per student or $5 per student, they do all the work and find information for you. That sounds great (sans all the money you could be spending if you have a large graduating class), until you think about it. Yes, these companies can find that information for you, but what if 60 percent of your graduating class doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile? What if everyone in the graduating class has a LinkedIn profile, but half of them made their profiles because they were required by a class two years ago—and they haven’t updated their information since? The data that you paid for could say (wrongly) this person is currently a Student IT Help Desk Worker!

And what about other data on the LinkedIn profile…how do you know that it is correct? How can you reasonably assume that the graduate is still a bartender? I have graduates who fill out the destination survey and indicate in the comments that the job that they are currently working is just to pay the bills and they are actively seeking a more professional position.

And then you get into the really fuzzy section—nontraditional graduates who appear to be working in the same position they held before they started working on their degree. Did they get the degree to move higher up in the company or did they just want to get the degree?

Then there are the graduates (I find this often with arts majors) who are working on building their businesses, but are also working multiple jobs to pay bills and make ends meet. How do you classify that information? Because I think the fashion designer who is working as a receptionist and a hostess might indicate on a destination survey that they are employed full time—and not mention the other two jobs.

LinkedIn is a hub for information, but it isn’t the end-all be-all source of information. Yes, we can educate students on how to use LinkedIn, and encourage them to use it, but when it comes to pulling destination survey data from LinkedIn, it should be used with caution and in conjunction with other methods of finding information.

Separating Millennial Myths From Reality

Smedstad-HeadshotShannon Smedstad, employment brand director, Global Communications & Engagement Team, CEB
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad
Blogs from Shannon Smedstad.

As organizations manage employee populations with increasing numbers of retirement-eligible workers, they are investing in hiring the future of the work force. In doing so, most everyone has realized that there’s one group that is particularly important—Millennials.

The competition for this demographic is stiff. Although Millennials participate in the same number of job interviews as candidates from other generations, they receive 12.5 percent more offers. Organizations are using a variety of tactics to attract and recruit the Millennial generation, but how can they sort the Millennial myths from reality?

Understanding the Millennial generation and their preferences is key. CEB recently researched the ways that Millennials undertake a job search and found a few ways that they differ from other generations, and some ways in which they aren’t different at all.
To attract and retain top talent from this generation, there are a few strategies that organizations should implement in their recruiting processes.

1. Use social media – but don’t overestimate it
Unsurprisingly, Millennials are more likely than any generation before them to use social media to learn about organizations. However, fewer than a third actually trust the information they receive through social channels. Job seekers across all generations place the most trust in friends and family when looking for jobs, so traditional channels such as referral programs and careers websites are still a decisive factor.

 2. Tell, don’t sell
Millennials spend less than half as much time as other generations learning about organizations before deciding whether to apply. To give this generation the information they need to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to apply, an organization’s employment brand needs to stand out by using messages that are consultative, not overly promotional.

 3. Emphasize career and personal development
Where their parents prized stability, the younger generation seeks new and varied opportunities—Millennials value career and individual development more than other generations. Because of this, they need to see the potential to learn quickly and make a difference as soon as they start a new role.

However, the top two most important factors in attracting candidates are the same across generations: compensation and work-life balance. As such, organizations should not overlook those attributes in their employment value proposition, but should actively seek ways to include the factors that matter to Millennials.

4. Optimize career websites for mobile devices
Millennials are more likely than other generations to use mobile devices to learn about employers. While the number of people looking at jobs and prospective employers on their smartphones and tablets will continue to grow, two-thirds of companies have yet to optimize their career sites for mobile devices. Ensure that information is easily available to candidates where they are looking for it.

The Bottom Line
Millennials are an important generation for organizations today—they are already quickly rising to be future leaders. While businesses have to compete more for Millennials’ interest than other generations, attracting top talent isn’t impossible. By understanding their preferences, organizations can successfully recruiting the Millennial talent they are looking for.

Four Lessons We Can Learn From Business Leaders

BlessVaiBless Vaidian, Pace University Career Services and Founder, Career Transitions Guide
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blessvaidian
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlessCareers
Blog: http://careertransitionsguide.com

1) The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder

Mark started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. Was it risky to venture out as an entrepreneur? Yes! It’s risky to start or try anything new. Whether you are in college or a professional with years of experience, our career choices are often masked with uncertainty. Industry leaders will tell you that it’s because they were not afraid of taking risks, that they are successful today.

2) You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. – Walt Disney

A few months ago, Business Insider published an article with a list of 23 successful people who failed at first. “Learn from life’s lessons and move on” was the underlying theme in all their stories. Don’t let failure keep you down. Sometimes when we don’t get what we want, another door opens. A mistake young college students make is to think that successful people never hit a rough patch. In fact successful people hit many obstacles, but keep moving forward.

3) We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency…Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. Participate or fade into a lonely obscurity. – Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable

Those people that are well branded and popular on social media outlets, and those with a wide circle of connections get job offers. Have your circle built so that when the time comes, your job search will be much faster than those that live in “obscurity.” The clients and students I work with that have a wide list of connections, attend events, and have a well-loved personality find jobs much faster. I work with hundreds of recruiters every year. They attend events to target candidates for open positions and to keep resumes on file for when there is a vacancy. If you are not getting out of the house and if you are not networking online, be prepared for a longer job search.

4) Technology empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential. – Steve Ballmer, Former CEO of Microsoft

When reading a job description, the skills required are clear. A college degree does not guarantee employment. But having all the skills required in a recruiter’s job posting does make you more marketable. Apply to jobs only after you acquire the skills. This way you will not waste the recruiter’s time or get discouraged when you don’t hear back from human resources. You can learn almost anything using online resources or by partnering with the right technology tools.

The Dreaded LinkedIn Summary…Some Tips for Students

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

Students understand more and more the power of LinkedIn, and the importance of not only being on LinkedIn, but also actually using it to successfully market themselves and connect with professionals. I feel like I’ve worked with a gazillion students on how to create an effective LinkedIn profile, and the one section that causes my students the most problems is that dang summary section! In advising sessions the following questions always come up: “Do I use first or third person?” “How long should it be?” “Should I discuss my passion for baking?” “Should I list skills…isn’t that redundant since there is that ‘Skills & Endorsements’ section already in my profile?” “Do I really even need a summary?”

Yes! Students should totally take advantage of the summary section!

Earlier this year I was talking to an employer representing an international management consulting firm, and I asked him on what criteria he selected students for on-campus interviews. He said something like, “Well…most of the resumes looked exactly the same—the same GPA’s, classes and projects, extracurricular activities, and degrees. So, I looked for athletes.”

Really? That was the deciding factor? It kind of blew my mind, as a non-athlete (I’ve always been a “husky” fella…and I was always kind of artsy) I knew, if I had been in the resume pool as an undergrad, I would have been out of the race. What I took from that conversation is that students need to leverage their “real life” and interests in the job search as well, and include them in their self-marketing documents and strategies (like their LinkedIn summary).

So, I’ve been trying to come up with a formula to help students construct their LinkedIn summaries (I work with a lot of engineers…and they LOVE formulas). My formula is basically strengths/skills + interests + tie-in to industry = a good LinkedIn summary. This technique allows students to show they have the skills required for an industry in a personalized way, making them unique from other candidates (like how the athletes were stand-outs for that management consulting employer). I also ask students to only write one sentence per topic (e.g., interests), to keep their summary concise.

I’ll use myself as an example. Currently I work with STEM students, but don’t have an ounce of STEM professional experience. My background is in documentary, TV, digital media, strategic communications…and counseling. How would this background inspire confidence in my STEM students? How could I leverage my past experience and skills to suit the career needs of STEM students? Let’s break it down with my formula, shall we?

Strengths/skills (hard and soft skills/strengths) – marketing, advertising, media, social media, telling stories, design, presenting, breaking down difficult information into digestible and understandable bits, advising/counseling, student development, motivating, inspiring, humor, strategic, empathic, activator. (Are you recognizing some of these StrengthsFinder terms? I love this assessment!)

Interests – design, music, photography, the history of my hometown (Durham, NC), Sci-Fi (Yes, I’m a nerd.), acting, documentary and hearing the stories of others, social justice, equality, anything vintage, learning/education, learning about other cultures.

Tie-in to industry (STEM students) – Storytelling is the underlying theme…teaching students to successfully tell their professional stories to employers. Education and social justice is another theme…especially in my work with international students and helping them find work in the United States.

Summary (with “Specialties”) – Storytelling is the heart of my career development and employer relations philosophy. Using my background in strategic communications and documentary, along with my experience in career services, I share the professional stories of my students with employers to create and grow meaningful relationships. I teach my students how to understand and share their stories with employers successfully to find careers they care about. I work with students from all over the world to help them better understand who they are, how they want to change the world, and how to create a strategy to make it happen. 

Specialties: Social media and job-search strategies, professional relationship development and maintenance, resume and cover letter writing, networking, job interview preparation, professional development, assessment application and review (StrengthsQuest, Strong Interest Inventory, MBTI), workshop facilitation, and assisting international students in navigating the American job-search process

See how that works? I maximize that non-traditional media/storytelling background to help me stand out from other career counselors.

My typical answers to student questions about the LinkedIn summary:

  • First or third person? Either one is fine. Students should decide based on what professionals in their chosen field are doing. A creative writing student’s summary will more than likely be written in the first person and more conversational, whereas the summary of a finance student may be in the third person and much more professional.
  • How long should the summary be? Not too long. I suggest four to six sentences (or fewer).
  • Discuss an outside passion (e.g., baking)? Sure, if your student can somehow tie it in to their chosen industry and prove it gives them a unique point of view, lens, or ability to do their job in an innovative way.
  • List specialties in the summary? Sure. Your students’ profiles are basically word banks, and we want to make sure it is peppered with as many industry key words as possible…we want employers to find our students as they search LinkedIn for talent.

What ideas do you have for creating killer LinkedIn summaries? Share your summary and expertise with us!

For more information on using social media in the job search, see the Social Media Guides on NACEWeb.

 

Two Ideas for Helping Students Access LinkedIn

Kelli Robinson Kelli Robinson, career counselor, Central Piedmont Community College
Blog: http://blogs.cpcc.edu/careerservices
Twitter: @KelliLRobinson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kellilrobinson

Social media has revolutionized how people engage in the world around them. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow users to connect with friends, share anecdotes and images, and receive up-to-the-minute information.

LinkedIn is the social media outlet designed to engage users in professionally-focused pursuits. When members create a substantial profile, join professional groups, start making contacts, and conduct a job search, it yields many career-related benefits. Career professionals know this.

At Central Piedmont Community College, the career services staff was having a hard time selling LinkedIn’s value to our students. Students are actively engaged on Facebook and Instagram, but spend little to no time on LinkedIn. We referenced LinkedIn in our Career Guide, distributed to hundreds of students each year. Career counselors spent numerous appointment hours demonstrating and explaining LinkedIn. But students still weren’t bothering.

LinkedIn seems to intimidate students. Creating an Instagram account and posting selfies is much more student-friendly. However, when students go to LinkedIn, they’re being asked to provide a career summary and create a professional headline. What’s a professional headline anyway? Students don’t view themselves as professionals yet. As one student asked, “doesn’t it make more sense to join LinkedIn when I actually am a professional?”

LinkedIn Learning Webinars do a fantastic job explaining how to create a LinkedIn profile and navigate the site. But if students aren’t visiting the site in the first place, they won’t know about the webinars. Additionally, students are more likely to connect with their college than an outside organization.

With this in mind, the CPCC career services team developed two avenues to introduce LinkedIn to our students:

1. Online Panopto video: A career counselor created a nine-minute Panopto video that helps students create a LinkedIn profile and explains LinkedIn’s features. Students can access the video from our website. Additionally, the video was e-mailed to CPCC faculty as a tool to use in their classrooms. When career counselors were invited to give classroom presentations, they showed highlights from the video when appropriate to the topic being presented.

2. Career Services LinkedIn Subgroup: Career services created a LinkedIn subgroup open to students, staff, faculty, alumni, and employers. The group’s purpose is to share career-related information. Much of the content consists of weekly posts from the CPCC Career Services blog, but members are welcome to post any career-related questions or information. The career services office promotes the subgroup through our office website, in classroom presentations, and in career counseling appointments.

Students who viewed the Panopto video and joined the LinkedIn subgroup found both beneficial. We continue to promote these outlets to the college community. If the trend continues, LinkedIn and social media will become a primary way students connect with employers. As I told the student who asked about waiting to join LinkedIn until he was a professional, “to become a professional, the time to start acting like one is now.”

On Thursday, NACE blogger Ross Wade will tackle “The Dreaded LinkedIn Summary” and offer tips to use with students. Find more information on how to use social media effectively with students, see the Social Media Guides on NACEWeb.

Online Portfolios…Don’t Be Left Dazed and Confused

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

Creating an online portfolio can be daunting. Traditionally photographers, designers, film/video editors, and other creative types have used portfolios, but I think everyone should have some kind of online portfolio.  Now don’t freak out – ha! Your industry and career goals determine the kind of portfolio you will have and the tools you will use, which leads me to an important point: Not all online portfolios should be the same.

Some answers and ideas to some common portfolio questions:

Do I need a portfolio?

The short answer is…Yes! Whether you are a recruiter, career adviser, event planner, PR specialist, or biomedical engineer, you should consider an online portfolio or some kind of online presence reflecting your work. After all, isn’t an “online presence” a kind of professional portfolio anyway? There are a bazillion different platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Behance, Instagram, Weebly) to choose from, so you must think strategically (Who is your audience, and what do they need/want?) as to which type is best for you. Portfolios are a no-brainer for some industries and they’re a professional standard. For example, a graphic designer needs a platform that will allow them to show their work in a very dynamic and visual way, while also allowing them to share their work with others. Therefore, Behance or Carbonmade, platforms specifically for visual arts and networking, are a couple of strong platforms worth consideration.  But what about non-artsy-fartsy careers…like, say…a career adviser?

As a career adviser, I have an online portfolio/presence, and yes, there are some visual and artistic pieces, but when determining what platforms to use, I had to consider my audience (students, peer career advisers, employers) and their needs/wants (tools for learning, inspiration for the job/intern search, paths of communication for sharing talent and opportunities). LinkedIn, for me, is a must, as it allows me to share my experience chronologically and visually. My LinkedIn profile is, by all intents and purposes, a virtual resume, but I’m also able to share writing, presentations, and design. I see many of my students and clients not maximizing LinkedIn by adding examples of their work, and I feel like they are selling themselves short. My social media platforms are added to my LinkedIn profile, but in addition, I use About.me as a fun and creative hub for sharing all of my social media. You may be thinking… “Are social media skills portfolio worthy?”…YES! Social media skills (e.g. strategy, writing, curating content) are highly valuable, and should absolutely be a part of your portfolio.

What should I put in my portfolio?

As I mentioned before, think strategically. Who is your audience, and what do they need/want? Portfolios should contain your best work—not all of your work—and be sorted by skill. Spend some time thinking about and writing down all that you do professionally, and then sort by skill and the level of importance to your audience; or try re-organizing your resume by skill. These two exercises will not only clarify the more obvious skills you use, but will also bring to light other skills that you may not have considered before. Even a photographer can breakdown his skills so they are more apparent to his audience. Photography is more than “point and click”—different styles require different skills. The portfolio of a photographer could be sorted into many skills/styles including: journalistic, portraits, landscapes, fashion, and black and white.

Writing, career development programming, poster/flyer design, social media, and presentations are the skills I reflect in my portfolio/online presence. I use LinkedIn to share my presentations and design; WordPress for my writing; Twitter and LinkedIn for content curation; and I bring it all together in one package on my About.me profile.

One tip for reflecting programming or events in portfolios is to have a picture of the event/program and discuss it using a variation of the good old STAR method—challenge, action, result.

Always make sure that you or your student get employer consent prior to posting anything from a past internship or job.

What are some resources for creating an online portfolio?

Don’t recreate the wheel by trying to build your own website from scratch (unless you are a web developer). We want viewers to see your skills and work, and not get sidetracked by a poorly designed and constructed site. There are many free and intuitive resources out there to choose from. Weebly and Wix are good drop and drag resources with templates for creating websites. Carbonmade and Behance are great for design/branding/photography/fashion portfolios. And of course as a recruiter, career adviser, or financial analyst, LinkedIn may be all that you need.

How do I share my portfolio?

There are some basic and more advanced ways of sharing your portfolio and professional work. A couple of basic ways are adding your portfolio link to your email signature, business card, resume header, and LinkedIn profile. More advanced methods include engaging with other professionals through social media. For example, writing a blog post and tweeting it or posting photography on Instagram with strategic tags to draw a greater audience. I’ve had students create portfolios and ask for feedback from professionals through LinkedIn groups or Behance.

A few other thoughts.

Academic portfolios are different than professional portfolios. I understand some universities have, or are in the process of considering, creating a required academic portfolio piece for students. The purpose of this requirement is to assess students’ learning over the course of their college careers. These academic portfolios may include reflections on experiences (e.g. study abroad, service), graded writing from first year through senior year, general professor feedback on assignments, and more. As I mentioned earlier, a professional portfolio reflects your best work (meeting the needs and standards of an industry/employer) while the purpose of an academic portfolio is to show growth of skill and learning within an academic context.

Could academic portfolios be repurposed into professional portfolios? I don’t see why not—in fact I love the idea! I think it would be a wonderful learning experience for students, as they would directly see how their academic and developmental experiences translate to professional skills—connecting college to career. This could also be a great partnership between employers and career services offices and career advisers and faculty.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Employers (from all industries) – what do you think about portfolios? What would you like to see in them?

NACE members can pick up a student-directed article on online portfolios by Ross Wade from the Grab & Go section of NACEWeb.

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting With Puppies (Part VI):

Chris Carlson

Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc
Blogs from Christopher Carlson

About two weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a social media/recruiting conference in New York City. It was a really great opportunity to learn about best practices in social recruiting from some real industry leaders. While in New York, I had the chance to visit the MoMA as well. If you have never been, it is really a wonderful museum full of amazing art. It got me thinking about something I wrote on my last blog, a quote from Tammy Garmey from TMP “Content is King but Context Rules.”

Our digital content is very much like art in many ways, in that the context in which we see the art can influence our interpretations. We have the chance to present our ideas and messages in so many different ways to reach a wide variety of audiences and tastes. It is always the context in which we view the art that dictates our appreciation.

Walking through the museum looking at amazing pieces by some of my favorite artists, I also noted that many people were using headsets to learn about the pieces and the artists—common in most museums. Some individuals were led by docents on official tours. Still others were outside listening to a live concert that MoMA had in their courtyard—experience art through music. Not only did MoMA expose people to the art works, they provided multiple ways to reach their audience. At this point, you may be saying, “so what is your point Chris?” Good question…

Let’s fast forward to a call with some 20+ representatives from a variety of companies and from the Jobs Accommodations Network (JANworks.org). On this call, we talked about how to make our recruiting content accessible to everyone including individuals with disabilities or differing abilities. We tried to focus the effort on organically created content developed by our employees. Most of the companies represented were already leaders in hiring individuals with disabilities, and we wanted to further enhance our outreach via social media.

A few key points resulting from the call included:

  • Use multiple channels to share your message: Not every social media tool has built-in accessibility and it is important that you don’t use just one to reach your audience. Just like the MoMA, consider options for your audience.
  • Make content accessible at the point of creation: Look for ways to cascade information about how to make content accessible to your employees so that as they create content it will be accessible. By doing so, it will better convey the real meaning and not lose perspective after someone else tries to make it accessible.
  • Include positive images of individuals with disabilities in your content: One thought is to partner with relevant ERGs or to work closely with your marketing team to make sure you have those positive images so that individuals will be drawn to you.
  • Make it routine: When building PowerPoint presentations or videos, always use built-in accessibility tools whether you need to do so or not. Having people make this part of their everyday will ensure that more content is accessible and easier to create.

For me, the discussion around content and making it accessible reminded me of one of the pieces in the MoMA. The piece was entitled “Still Life With Three Puppies.” Our messaging is like that painting. You can paint still life but it becomes so much more enriching and engaging when we include puppies. Find ways to incorporate varieties of media into your messaging such as captions into your videos or word descriptions of your photos. By doing so, more people will be drawn to your message just like we are drawn to the puppies.

There were definitely some other insights into specific tools that you can use and I will be happy to share those with you if you reach me. You can also reach to JAN at www.askjan.org. They are a great resource.