Are you LinkedIn?

As many final year students embark on the final stretch of their university careers – the looming threat of “what next?” persists. The job market – particularly for media students – can be a thrilling yet distressing prospect.

However, the idea of “networking” is perhaps a step in the right direction, especially when dipping your toe in the cold waters of cut-throat job seeking. This endeavour may seem frightening at first – but there is a platform that seemingly makes the transition from lecture room to board room easier.

LinkedIn, is simply put, a career-networking platform that assists in the job “’hunt”.  It is a professional online presence that will help you connect with like-minded industry professionals.

The social media platform, which was created in 2003, has around 500 million users. If that is not enough – it also has a geographical reach in 200 countries. Pretty impressive for something that began in co-founder, Reid Hoffman’s, living room. To this day, their core vision and purpose of professional “connection” perseveres.

In today’s technological space and digital generation, having a professional and “clean” online space can only be a positive. Furthermore, it is no secret that employers use social media platforms to “screen” potential employees.

However, what do students of Nelson Mandela University have to say about this “linked in” zone? Is it truly a good networking platform?

 “I found that LinkedIn is quite useful in making connections and growing your corporate network. It’s even better if you can get recommendations and endorsements from well-known people”, says Siba Gwavu, a current final year BA Media, Communication and Culture (MCC) student.

“I worked earlier full-time this year as a project co-ordinator; finding out the relevant names of people you need to speak to – be it directors, Public Relations (PR) [practitioners] or Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) – is tough. LinkedIn made it a little bit easier”, Gwavu adds.

Denise Grey, another BA MCC student, emphasized that she felt the platform was suitable for individuals with a “working portfolio”. All in all, reactions were positive, especially from students studying and working part-time.

Another perspective was obtained by a working professional. Artist, tutor and part-time graphic designer, Jonathan Silverman, stated, “It’s useful for networking with other professionals within your field. The benefits are that you can be headhunted by companies looking for potential talent. LinkedIn is ideal for building a professional network.”

According to the publication GradX, tips for a striking LinkedIn profile include: writing a strong summary, headline and URL; including relevant contact details and work experience; avoiding “buzzwords” and embracing originality; and incorporating an appropriate and up-to-date photograph. It is also important to showcase your accomplishments, use targeted job descriptions, and add connections thoughtfully.

Furthermore, do not despair if – as a recent graduate – you do not have formal “work experience”. Internships, volunteer work, holiday jobs, and university society positions – all count. Volunteer work, especially, suggests character, uBuntu and willingness to work.

All in all, LinkedIn is a wonderful platform to make use of once you’re officially in the job market. One should never underestimate the power of creating lasting connections in your career of choice.

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