Forty million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs every week, and three people are hired every minute on the site.
“LinkedIn is the best way to take any student sitting in a classroom and put them in an office environment,” said Dr. Anna Stumpf, Ball State assistant lecturer, online program coordinator and former Anderson University professor. “The conversations that take place on LinkedIn are the same that take place in board rooms.”
Stumpf has been using LinkedIn since 2008, and feels quite strongly that the platform should be pushed more for college-aged students.
Stefanie Leiter, assistant professor of public relations at Anderson University, has been a user of the website since 2004, and says that the site has changed significantly since she first joined.
“The big changes that I recall have been being shoved into a group,” she said. “Now, you can select which group and interact with their blogging and news feeds.”
Originally, you could only log in and see people’s work. Now, the site has expanded immensely and is a great networking tool for people, according to Leiter.
LinkedIn is available in 24 different languages and, according to social media management platform Hootsuite, is also the most trusted social network in the United States.
Stumpf advises students all over the country to take the site more seriously. She believes that LinkedIn is not “expirable,” and that people need to use it to their advantage.
According to Stumpf, the best thing you can do for yourself is to see what people in your industry are talking about.
“LinkedIn is not your social media,” said Stumpf. “It is professional networking.”
Stumpf has spoken all over the country about her views and opinions on the networking site. She said that she spends a majority of her presentations talking through the process of using the platform with students and tries to ease their nerves about entering the workforce.
Stumpf said that the work world can be scary and that LinkedIn is a good stepping stone for those who are afraid to take their next steps into the professional world.
“Even if you don’t want to be engaged or are intimidated to start a conversation, you are still going to absorb something on LinkedIn,” Stumpf said.
Stumpf believes that LinkedIn works because it is true to the working professionals it was made for.
“For the most part, we recognize everyone’s contributions for what they are,” she said. “If you see a post getting too political, you will see it policed out.”
Leiter agrees on that sentiment.
“LinkedIn is the best platform in terms of filtering out the things that don’t need to be there,” she said.
“LinkedIn was the leader,” Leiter said. “They had a very specific goal for their pages.”
Leanne Torres, Anderson University’s Director of Career and Calling, encourages students to think of LinkedIn as their online resume when creating an account.
She believes that it is a great tool to utilize when looking for work, but is hesitant to tell her students to apply for jobs through the platform.
“You can get an idea, niche-wise,” Torres said. “But I would caution students against applying directly from LinkedIn because you want to tailor each resume to every job you are applying for.”
Torres is also a huge advocate for the collaborative aspect of the network. She enjoys using LinkedIn to be creative with other individuals in her field.
“We underestimate people who are in the same position in different companies,” Torres said.
She said that LinkedIn eliminates that factor, in a way.
Torres said that LinkedIn is also a great tool to see other people’s experiences in their respective fields.
“It is a great way to stay connected with [AU] alumni and be able to interact with them in a more professional manner than what other platforms may offer,” Torres said.
Torres feels that LinkedIn can offer a narrow mindset in terms of what vocations are talked about on the platform. She said that other industries such as ministry and education could really benefit from utilizing the service.
Ian Hays, Regenstrief Institute data analyst, found his current job on LinkedIn. He has been with the institute for nearly two years and he credits LinkedIn for helping him find what he wanted to do in life.
Hays said he was tired of working in the grocery industry, so he logged onto LinkedIn to see what else was out there.
“I am an informaticist by trade and have wanted to be a data analyst for a while,” Hays said. “Everything just worked out.”
Hays was lucky enough to find a position in his region and loves where he is at. He enjoys the straightforwardness of the site and is grateful that it was able to show him occupations he wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.
“It consolidates a bunch of different job positions from places I hadn’t thought to look,” Hays said. “I would never have expected to be working for a non-profit organization.”
The 26-year-old had never shown any interest in working in healthcare before applying at Regenstrief.
At Regenstrief, workers research better ways to assist people’s health needs.
It was through LinkedIn that he was able to see that he had found his niche.
“Anybody can use LinkedIn, no matter the skill set,” Hays continued. “It is easy to use.”
Hays agrees with Stumpf and Leiter that LinkedIn can give students a taste of the professional workforce. He said that the platform offers insight into each job a student might want and that it can be very resourceful.
“It’s fantastic,” Stumpf said. “It’s the best way to get yourself caught up to speed in the working world.”