LinkedIn: it's what you make of it. You can use the site actively and on a regular (read: daily or weekly) basis, or you can construct a profile in your leisure and log on once or twice a year to endorse your best friend's skills, per her incessant pleadings. We'll give you a hint — the first option is to your advantage. In fact, LinkedIn is a tool you'll want to utilize ASAP (and with the recent mobile redesign, navigating the app is easier than ever!).
In the spirit of the site, we grilled bona fide LinkedIn expert Catherine Fisher on her tips and tricks for networking, nailing the interview, and eventually landing your dream job — all thanks to the Internet.
1. Find influencers in your desired industry on LinkedIn, and seek to make a connection through yours.
"If you're not already connected with [these people] on LinkedIn, you can ask someone in your LinkedIn network who is connected with them to make an introduction. I think if you're taking someone's time [for a recommendation], you should be really clear with your questions for them, and really what it is that you would love to hear from them. [Say], 'Hey, listen, I've been thinking about changing industries, and I see that you're connected with this person who is really well-known in that industry, and I would love the opportunity to ask a couple of questions. Would you mind making an introduction?' I think just being as clear as possible about what you want to get out of that is the best way to go."
2. Take courses using Lynda.com.
"I think [college students] should be reading as much as they can, paying attention to the different industries, [and] talking to as many people as they can to really get an understanding of what is out there and what skills are needed. And if you're lacking in skills, we have Lynda.com, which you can take courses on. Let's say you want to go into content marketing, but you need to have some basic information . . . you can actually get those skills by taking these courses. Take that time to invest in getting the knowledge you need."
3. Stalk (yes, stalk) hiring managers and interviewers on LinkedIn.
"I think you have to be prepared when you go into an interview. You should be looking up the person who you're interviewing with [on LinkedIn]. You would be surprised at how many commonalities you may have. Maybe you went to the same school, maybe you have connections in common. That is the best way to form a conversation starter."
4. Provide as much information as you can on your LinkedIn profile.
"Your LinkedIn profile is really the first impression that hiring managers are going to see. So you want to make sure that you're really showing your best self in that profile. The more information you provide people about your experience and what you're interested in, the better. They can more quickly come to a decision if you'd be the right candidate. As much as you can, include videos, photos, and presentations that you've done on your LinkedIn profile."
5. Include a professional photo of yourself.
"You also want to make sure that you are optimizing your profile so that it's more searchable. One of the first things I always recommend is to make sure you always have that profile photo. I think if you have the profile photo on LinkedIn, it really turns your profile into your own. This is you as a professional, and how you're being represented. And that profile photo actually makes you 14 times more likely to be viewed."
6. Write a detailed summary.
"In the summary section of the profile, our recommendation is to have 40 words or more."
7. Volunteer experience is more important than you'd think.
"Another interesting tidbit is we did a study and found that 42 percent of hiring managers view volunteer experience as work experience. So if you have some great volunteer experience, you should include that. Let's say you want to get into social media, and you volunteered some time for a local charity and you helped them with their social media . . . that's considered experience!"