LinkedIn and Career Planning: Use It to Your Career Advantage

by Karen Girard

Are you on Facebook?  Twitter?  How about LinkedIn?  Do you participate in social networking?  Lots of us play around on them, but many of my colleagues say they are not interested, so haven’t even bothered checking them out.

Computers are my hobby.  If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you I am the “gadget queen” and an early adopter of most things computer.  I was a Facebook addict while recovering from an injury, and I learned a lot about potential ethical and employment issues that can affect our clients on this site even when they believe their privacy is protected.

Recently, however, I have taken the time to learn about a more professional networking site:  LinkedIn. After attending LinkedIn’s exclusive training for Career Services Professionals, I became a social networking convert.  With so many of our clients using the internet for social purposes, it is our responsibility to help them use these tools to their career advantage.

What is LinkedIn, and what makes it different from Facebook?  

Facebook is a website where people share all aspects of their lives (even those others may not want to know about).  Conversely, LinkedIn is a 100% professional network, connecting people for the purpose of business and education.  There are no games and no inappropriate photos.  Think of it as an online professional portfolio.

LinkedIn’s training session is a webinar that gives insight into some of the hidden strengths of the site, and offers great ideas on how career professionals can use it to enhance their career center as well as to help their clients.

The webinar teaches participants how to set up a profile and encourages you to create a public one that you can include in your resume – basically directing employers to your “professional site” instead of leaving them to “Google” your name and find your Facebook page. (For the purpose of effective, professional social networking, I advocate that those who insist on posting Facebook content they don’t want seen by employers create an alias for that profile so it won’t be found in a web search!)
Other Linkedin links:

Hiring and Human Resources 
Join the LinkedIn Q&A on HR issues. Get your questions answered and share your expertise by answering others’ queries. Multilingual.

LinkedIn 101 for Slide Share
A slide primer on LinkedIn and building a personal profile.

LinkedIn training sessions are offered live each month, giving you a chance to ask the moderator questions directly.  If you are unable to attend a live session, the most recent webinar is also available in a recorded version online.  You can find these, and supplemental PDF files with information to help your clients learn how to create their own profiles online at:  http://careerservices.linkedin.com.

Learning about these networks gives you the skills to educate clients on the processes and etiquette of social networking.  This is a new venue in which to build a professional image online, research companies and career paths, explore organizations, connect with alumni and professionals.  Don’t fool yourself — employers are checking people out online.  LinkedIn offers an opportunity to create a great impression with your own personal brand!

There are innumerable LinkedIn groups of peers willing to share and exchange ideas online.  Once you have your presence established, be sure to join the Career Developer Network, and then add me as a contact.  Let’s build our presence as Canadian career practitioners! Looking forward to “meeting” you!

Karen Girard has been involved in Human Resources and Career Development for over 20 years and was the Technical Editor for Landing a Job for Canadians… For Dummies.  She currently runs a private career and interview coaching practice and works as a High School Career Advisor in Alberta.To join her LinkedIn network, search for Karen Girard (CCDP), invite her to join your network by marking her as a “colleague” and include in your email that you read this article in the ContactPoint Bulletin. Or email Karen at karenegirard@rvschools.ab.c

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