If you’re pursuing a degree so you can launch a fulfilling career, you need to start looking for a job the moment you set foot on campus. Why?
The Job Market Is Uncertain
A lot happens in four years. Current market circumstances are likely to change by 2018. When students entered university in 2005, they couldn’t have imagined that the US would experience the worst recession in history before their graduation and that the class of 2009 would face daunting levels of unemployment. The economy is improving, but the job prospects for millennials are far from plentiful. U.S. Labor Department statistics show that out of 3 million recent college grads, 36% are unemployed or have a job that doesn’t require a degree.
Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 projections indicate that the number of overqualified and underemployed college graduates will increase. According to the BLS, the economy will create 50.6 million job openings by 2022, and only 27.1% will require college degrees – a projected increase of only 2.1% since 1996.
Finding a Job Is a Journey, Not a Destination
Securing your ideal job requires and an active, steadfast approach. According to Money magazine, it generally takes several months to land a first job. Don’t wait until graduation year to launch your career. The process of finding a job after you’ve earned your degree actually begins on your first day as a college student.
When you start that journey as a freshman and stay focused on your career for the next four years, you’ll likely be ahead of your classmates upon graduation. Scouring job boards and sending blind applications are not very efficient ways to find a job. The most successful approach involves relationships. That’s because most great jobs are found through a networking contact. It takes time to build a solid network of professional relationships, but those relationships are essential to your success. Consider these statistics:
Networking: According to a report from ABC News, 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking.
Referrals: Career Crossroads annual source of hire report states that referrals were the top source of external hire, accounting for 24.5% of hires. And a New York Times article revealed that at Sodexo , a food service and facilities management company that hires 4,600 managers and executives a year, referred employees are 10 times more likely to be hired than other applicants. And according to Business Insider, while only one in 100 general applicants wind up with a seat in the office, one in seven referrals will land a job with a company they apply to.
Internships: Jacquelyn Smith said in a recent Forbes article, “It turns out that may be the easiest way to secure a full-time gig, as 69% of companies with 100 or more employees offered full-time jobs to their interns in 2012, according to a new survey.” Remember that most jobs are found through networking. Internships are an important step in building long-lasting relationships with leaders.
Building relationships is key to landing internships and jobs, but relationship building takes time – so you need to start right away.
Why Major in LinkedIn?
LinkedIn equals Networking
When should you build a professional network? Before you need it! Building and nurturing an extensive network can take years. It’s not wise to wait until your senior year to lay the foundation – especially if you’re pursuing internships. LinkedIn makes networking easy. It allows you to manage all your contacts in one place and is replete with tools that help you stay in touch so you can stay visible and available to hiring managers at all levels. In addition, two LinkedIn features are especially valuable to college students:
- Groups: Groups allow you to connect with vast numbers of professionals who are experts in the field you are pursuing. Groups foster conversations, and this provides an opportunity to engage with hiring managers and influencers in your desired industry or job function.
- Alumni: The Alumni feature helps students find and reach out directly to alumni of their school who work for their target employers. Sharing the same school gives you an opportunity to connect with these useful contacts. You want to establish these relationships long before you apply for a job.
LinkedIn also happens to be the place where jobs are posted. According to SocialMediaToday, 77% of all jobs are posted on LinkedIn. Follow companies via LinkedIn to decide which ones you’re most interested in for internships and your ideal first gig as a graduate. As a follower, you can stay on top of what’s happening with the company and ace an interview.
The Ideal Training Ground for Personal Branding
LinkedIn is a great way to get into the habit of ongoing personal branding. It makes you think about how you develop and express your personal brand, which enables you to start building other career marketing tools like your resume and cover letter.That career management habit begins with a self-study course called LinkedIn 101. Add it to your first semester’s schedule. The course material is provided at the end of this article.
Your LinkedIn profile becomes your personal brand history – a repository of your successes. You can post projects that you’re working on at school and upload presentations that you deliver, whitepapers you write and videos of you presenting your class projects. With regular updates, your LinkedIn profile transforms into a comprehensive multi-media portfolio and timeline of all the great work you have done in your courses, internships, campus activities, and volunteering.
Your Future Employer Will Look You Up on LinkedIn
Whether applying for an internship or that first big gig, you will be evaluated online. A Jobvite survey revealed that 92% of U.S. companies are using social media networks to recruit talent; that’s up from 78% just five years ago. So you can see the trend and how it might impact you by the time you graduate. According to an April 2014 Pepperdine University presentation by Career Director Jessica Cheng, 98% of recruiters use LinkedIn and 94.5% of them have successfully hired candidates through LinkedIn.
You will be googled, and your LinkedIn profile will usually show up at the top of a Google search. So even if a hiring manager starts with Google, she will end up at your LinkedIn profile.
But it’s not just about having a profile.
It’s about having an authentic, compelling, and informative profile that helps you stand out. And it is about getting in the habit of using LinkedIn daily. According to Craig Smith at Digital Marketing Ramblings, only 13% of LinkedIn members use the tool every day. Getting into the daily habit will truly help you master this invaluable tool.
Here’s some of my LinkedIn advice to help you get started. Think of it as the curriculum for LinkedIn 101:
- Why LinkedIn is the only personal branding resource you need
- 22 LinkedIn Secrets That LinkedIn Won’t Tell You
- 10 LinkedIn Blunders That Make You Look Like An Amateur