Posted by Tim Chen, OSU Student and Career Services Career Assistant

According to a national study by Grunwald Associates, 96% of Generation Y uses social media tools.  Currently, Generation Y outnumbers the Baby Boomer population.

With that said, more and more businesses are switching over to social networking as means of interacting with the growing youth population.  In an effort to draw attention from the youth while maintaining professionalism, LinkedIn was developed as a “professional” social network.

LinkedIn takes the traditional aspects of a job market and places it online for millions of users to interact.  The profile page looks similar to the “Info” page on a Facebook profile, but more business oriented.  For example, my LinkedIn profile immediately lists off my previous employers, the educational institutions I attended, the number of “connections” (friends) I have, and any websites that I choose to share (personal, company, etc…).  Outside, it provides additional details regarding my information (that I choose to share), and then it displays groups involved and my most recent activities.

To use LinkedIn for job hunting, there are several general tips that you may choose to follow, from the Guy Kawasaki Blog:

1)     Increase your visibility! This can be done by adding more connections and using keywords that best describe you.  Make sure you add connections outside of your current employer (such as high school friends, friends from groups/organizations) to draw more attention in search results.

2)     Improve search engine results. Aside from increasing your visibility, advertise your LinkedIn profile.  Attempt to create your public profile URL with your name in it so it’s easier for employers to exclusively find you.  Also, include your LinkedIn URL in your signatures if you ever post on blogs since it helps advertise yourself within the blog, and it increases the appearance of your name in search results.

3)     Perform “reverse,” company reference checks. Given correct information, LinkedIn allows for users to search for previous title holders of a position within a company.  This provides the user an opportunity to look at the resume of the interviewer and allows the user to see previous people who held the position.  This search comes in handy since it provides a better idea about the company and that specific department and/or position.

4)     Increase job search by skills! Rather than searching by people and/or employers, you can type in a skill and have a list of companies with positions seeking those specific skills.  For example, by searching “Java” under the Job search, many “Java Developer” positions show up.

5)     Research companies with LinkedIn! Rather than visiting the employer’s official website, LinkedIn has asked for companies to create a generic “profile” page for users to briefly review their information and testimonies from their employees.

Of course with all of those tips, there are a couple of things that you should be careful about.  These tips come from Dr. Rachna D. Jain’s “Five Things you should never do on a social network:”

1)     Do not leave negative feedback.  That comment and feedback will generally stick around for a while.

2)     Do not lie, and be honest.  Companies look for integrity in their employers and their potentials.

3)     Do not spam!  Spam is NOT a push marketing strategy.  Most people hate spam and would prefer not to hear about promotional material.

4)     Do not gossip!  It’s immature and makes you look very unprofessional and takes away any classy image you might have.

5)     Do not oversell yourself.  Arrogance is accepted to an extent.  If you say you can do something, companies will expect that you can follow through.

With that said, start making your LinkedIn profile today!  Be sure to join the Oregon State LinkedIn group after you signup.

Sources: BNET, Guy Kawasaki Blog