Using LinkedIn

Learning Outcome

  • Investigate the skills and attributes required for employment.
  • Assess and compare personal skills and attributes to identify development needs.
  • Apply knowledge and skills to build a professional network.
  • Integrate program learning, graduate attributes and professional experiences to construct a professional identity
  • Prepare evidence to enhance employability (interviews, resume, digital identity, portfolio).

Background

Professional social networking sites, most notably LinkedIn, have affected our career development and employment by increasing visibility and ease of access to information, jobs and people. While students may use social media recreationally (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram), a growing number are creating professional identities online using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a free professional networking site with over 400 million members worldwide. LinkedIn allows individuals to build a profile, connect with their peers, showcase their growing skill set and share knowledge and experience. The site allows students to build local and global networks, access hundreds of thousands of companies across all industries and search for future employment opportunities. Essentially, LinkedIn is a valuable tool for students and staff to increase their social capital, plan future career steps and brand themselves effectively for the world of work.

Some might assume that LinkedIn only serves ‘professionals’ who are looking for their next job. While LinkedIn is indeed a valuable tool for job searching, it also offers both professional and academic staff a myriad of opportunities to further their own career development and the development of the students they teach.

Many students and staff require some guidance on how they can maximise the use of LinkedIn for career management and building employability, given the myriad of features, groups, channels, tools and pages the site has to offer. The purpose of this teaching tool is to guide educators on using LinkedIn to support their student’s career management goals such as career pathway exploration, networking and job search.

Activities and discussion

Students can undertake a number of activities that encourage them to use the various functions of LinkedIn to support their career goals. Students will need to have created an account with LinkedIn so they can use it either on a laptop or PC or the downloadable app on a smart device for each activity. Suggested activities include:

  1. Basic profile build (click here for more)

This activity is suitable for new users of LinkedIn who may have not started populating their profile with information, or who need more guidance on refining information already in their profile. As a group or in pairs, encourage students to fill in the main sections of their LinkedIn profiles:

  • Headline - a short, memorable professional slogan
  • Profile Photo – head and shoulders shot, smiling, quality photo, neat appearance
  • Summary section – a brief introduction to who you are, what you’re studying, what you’re interested in and goals for the future.
  • Education – students can enter their course and institution name, as well as any co-curricular activities or groups you are a part of at the university.
  • Experience – if students have had work experience or are currently working.
  • Interests – professional and personal interests (e.g. technology, sports, hobbies etc.)

More experienced students may wish to fill in additional sections such as “Volunteering Opportunities”, “Honours & Awards” and “Language” (other than English). Students may wish to view other profiles for inspiration and ideas.

Staff can use the LinkedIn guide for student profile building which can be downloaded here.

  1. Career exploration on LinkedIn - Alumni Tool and General Search (click here for more)

LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool lets students explore alumni career paths from more than 23,000 colleges and universities worldwide. The tool will automatically default to the university that a member is currently studying at or most recently graduated from. Students can click on the “Change University” button to browse for the university they wish to view alumni from.

  • Ask students to search RMIT University for alumni of their program (they can type in the program name in to the search bar e.g. Bachelor of Business) using the LinkedIn alumni tool
  • Ask students to view profiles of alumni*** (both recent graduates and experienced professionals) and take note of the following:
    • Where they work (i.e. company name)
    • What they do
    • What skills and experience they’ve noted on their profiles (if visible, this will depend on how much information is available on public profiles).
    • Other positions held since graduation
  • Get the students to reflect on the information they have found and how this might influence:
    • Career paths they might be interested in exploring further
    • Skills and experiences they could work towards gaining while studying (e.g. gaps in their current skill set, opportunities for growth, validation of skills already gained)
    • Companies they might like to work for
    • University alumni they might like to connect with to find out more about their career journey

***Note – students may wish to set their activity to private mode so that their profile views remain anonymous to others. (Navigate to “Privacy & Settings” --> click “Privacy” --> select “Profile Viewing Options” --> select Private Mode)

  1. Networking and communication on LinkedIn (click here for more)

This is a good follow-on activity from the above, as students may have already identified people on LinkedIn they wish to connect to for networking opportunities. Alternatively, if students are new to LinkedIn and have yet to start building connections, this activity will also support learning on effective networking and communication on LinkedIn.

  • Ask the students to find three LinkedIn members within their industry – this can be done using the LinkedIn Alumni Tool (see above) or by typing the industry name (e.g. Accounting, Mechanical Engineering, Pharmaceuticals) in to the LinkedIn search bar then selecting “People”.
  • Students can then spend some time researching people in their field by viewing their profile and activities to gain an understanding of who they are, what they do and their interests
  • Once students have found a suitable LinkedIn member to connect with, ask them to draft a personalised “Let’s Connect” message on paper or in Word Doc. Ask them to reflect on what would make a positive first impression with that person and why they want to connect to them:
    • Teachers and students might wish to refer to the “Networking on LinkedIn” tip sheet available for download in PDF form here
    • To view some sample LinkedIn introduction messages, click here

Further resources

Mode

Face-to-face, mode or flipped classroom

Time

Up to 1 hour

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