A Resume Is Not Enough: Why Students Need Professional Online Profiles

Perhaps you've heard about LinkedIn, the professional social network, but you're not sure exactly what it is. Or, you've set up a LinkedIn profile but you don't really know what to do with it.

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For students who are accustomed to Facebook, LinkedIn can feel like a foreign land -- a bit uncomfortable and a bit intimidating. It's true that LinkedIn is a different world from more socially minded online networks; however, it is a world where students need to be. If you are a student or recent grad who is looking to build your career prospects, setting up a professional profile and becoming active on LinkedIn are absolute musts. Here are the key reasons why.

Important People Are Googling You

First and foremost, LinkedIn is about professional visibility. When a networking contact, grad school admissions officer or prospective employer types your name into a search engine, you want that person to find something more than your Facebook profile or an article from your college newspaper quoting your opinion about what band should play at spring fling.

By having a LinkedIn profile, you'll guarantee that at least one search result is providing information about your professional accomplishments and goals. LinkedIn profiles rank very highly in search results (almost always on the first page), so having a LinkedIn profile is like a business having a listing in the yellow pages: it shows that you are proactively taking part in the professional community. Just as you build your professional visibility by showing up at a company information session, industry association conference or networking event, you need to "show up" online as well. LinkedIn is the place to do that.

A Resume Is No Longer Enough

In today's ultra-competitive job market, a good resume is not the only tool required to land a position. Online portfolios, blogs, Twitter feeds and other virtual tools are helping people present their credentials in new ways. Smart students know this and manage the online representations of their credentials as carefully as they craft their resumes and cover letters.

LinkedIn profiles can supplement the contents of your traditional one-page resume in several ways, even if you don't have much paid work experience. On your profile you can include volunteer positions, extracurricular experience, Web links to examples of your work and recommendations from people who can vouch for your skills and talents. To make sure that people find of all this supplemental information, be sure to include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resumes, business cards and in your email signature.

Relationships Are Crucial To Your Career Success

We all know that success is not just about what you know, but whom you know. Another important reason for students to have professional online profiles is to use social networks to build and maintain professional relationships. A LinkedIn presence facilitates networking, and the earlier you begin to network, the more robust your professional relationships will be throughout your career.

"I don't know anyone!" many students will protest to this advice, but this is another important reason to join LinkedIn. By uploading your online address book to LinkedIn, you will discover that you know more professionals than you might think. This includes family, friends, neighbors, former teachers, professionals, work and internship colleagues and many others. And all of these people can potentially lead to connections with hundreds of other people and opportunities. Remember that people are in a different mindset when they are in the professional environment of LinkedIn, so even people you see every day will interact with you in a different, more professionally focused way on the site.

LinkedIn also helps you maintain your relationships over time. It can be difficult to keep in touch with the various people you meet in your career; however, when you have a strong online network, you can have small, frequent interactions -- like commenting on someone's status update or answering a question in a group discussion -- that keep your relationships strong.

Building A Global Profile

Finally, a professional online profile is an essential step toward a global presence and a global network. In nearly every professional field, international relationships are a valuable asset and can lead to exciting opportunities. Almost half of LinkedIn users are outside the United States, representing over 200 countries, so it's the perfect place to keep in touch with friends you have met while studying abroad, international classmates and alumni, and new connections from across the globe.

If you don't have many global relationships, you can make a few on LinkedIn by joining an internationally focused group or participating in some discussions on international issues. Within LinkedIn there are countless opportunities to forge new relationships and learn about different perspectives from around the world. Of course, none of that can happen unless you sign up and join the conversation!

In the end, building a professional presence and growing your professional network on LinkedIn are great ways to declare to the world that you are here, you are ready to contribute and you are eager to make your mark in the world -- the online world and the real one.

Next: How To Articulate Your Personal Brand Through Your Social Network

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Holly Paul


Holly Paul is the U.S. Recruiting Leader for PwC, one of the world's largest professional services firms, overseeing all of the firm's campus and experienced recruiting activities and managing a team of more than 200 professionals who comprise the firm's recruiting network. In her role, Holly leads PwC's efforts to attract, engage and hire full-time professionals and interns -- including PwC's increasing use of social media for recruiting purposes, as well as initiatives to build and maintain relationships with the nearly 200 universities where PwC actively recruits.   

Holly is a frequent speaker and subject matter expert on recruiting, human resource management and career related topics, appearing on college campuses around the country and interviewing with numerous media to offer perspective on such issues.  She has been featured on ABC News' "Job Club," Bloomberg Radio's "The Hays Advantage with Kathleen Hays," and regularly quoted in The Wall Street Journal, FORTUNE, CNNMoney.com, Forbes.com, CareerBuilder, MORE Magazine online, The Chicago Tribune, MarketWatch, The Houston Chronicle, dozens of campus newspapers and other news sources. 

As a member of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Recruiting Network, Holly leads the experienced recruitment network sharing best practices from the U.S. firm with her peers who lead the recruiting efforts at other PwC Global Network firms around the world. The collaboration drives greater consistency and efficiency in the recruiting process for PricewaterhouseCoopers worldwide. 

Holly draws upon her more than 16 years of experience in a variety of roles across PwC's organization to inform and enhance the firm's recruiting function.  Most recently, she served as PwC's National Sourcing Operations Leader for campus and experienced recruiting.  In this role, she was responsible for the business operations and financial management of the recruiting organization, as well as direction of campus and experienced recruitment strategies and initiatives.

From 2006 to 2007, Holly led the human resource operations of PwC's Internal Firm Services (IFS) group, comprised of 7,000 professionals who provide internal strategic services in the areas of administration, finance, human resources, information technology, infrastructure, knowledge management, learning and education, marketing and sales, and other key support functions.  During this period, Holly led a redesign of the human capital organization within IFS, to better align process and talent with firm strategy.   Previously, she served for a decade as a human resource leader in PwC's Carolinas and Washington, D.C. metro markets. 

Holly began her career in PwC's Florham Park, New Jersey office in 1994 as a client service assurance professional.  A 1994 graduate of Lafayette College with a BA in Anthropology and a concentration in Accounting, Holly is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and maintains certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She resides in Bethesda, MD with her husband, Bill, and their two children.

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Brand Red Résumé


Great content. I loved your argument about students needing professional visibility. You never really know when someone is looking for more information about you as a professional. It doesn't only happen after a résumé is submitted. In many ways, the résumé is still the most powerful career marketing tool a candidate/student can use. Nonetheless, I completely understand your argument and I appreciate you going into detail about the importance of having professional profiles online.

I invite you to take a look at a piece I wrote recently titled "3 Reasons Every College Graduate Should Have a LinkedIn Profile" (http://brandredresume.com/linkedin-profile-for-graduates). The information pairs well with your content.

Again, great content.

July 27 2013 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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