LinkedIn: Steps to Professional Success

The more I talk with people, the more I realize how many students within the College of Business don’t have LinkedIn profiles.  My last post talked a lot about social media and ways to protect your online reputation.  This post will discuss how you can use LinkedIn to better market yourself to potential employers and how LinkedIn can assist you in your job search.

For starters, you need to tell your story.  You want your LinkedIn profile to speak for your experience.  This is how people in the business world verify that you are legit.  A sharp profile reinforces your qualifications for a job and increases the chances that you might be discovered for one.  It’s like your business suit, but online.  You always want to keep it pressed and polished to make a good first impression.  Having a profile on LinkedIn also helps you rise to the top of search engine results.  You never know what Google might find under your name.  Test it out, search for your name.  What comes up?  Is it professional?  Would it encourage someone to hire you?  Having a LinkedIn profile helps you control that first impression when someone pulls up your name in a search engine.

A 100% complete profile is 40 times more likely to be seen by employers than one that is only 90% complete. 

 

So, how do you get to 100%?  You want to include a descriptive headline, as well as a photo for face recognition.  Yourheadline is critical as it’s the only customizable personal information people will see of you. When you appear in search results for instance, your name, location and headline will be the only three visible bits.  You also want to include at least three past positions, whether they are internships, summer jobs, or campus employment.  Include any schools you have been to and put an executive summary of your skills and qualifications.  Use your summary to let a bit of your personality come out: you might mention your passions or what you hope to achieve in your career.  You definitely want to include your LinkedIn profile URL on your resume, business card, or email signature to encourage people to check you out.   All these things make your profile more complete, which in turn lets people know that you are a well-rounded candidate for a job.

Get Connected

The next step is to get connected, the heart of networking.  Being connected on LinkedIn has a number of advantages: it keeps you current with your network even as people switch jobs, industries, and locations.  Your address book might go out of date as people move around and change email addresses and phone numbers but your LinkedIn contact info will always be fresh because it is updated by your connections.   As you approach graduation, the easiest place to start growing your network is an alumni group on LinkedIn.  Do a search for “East Carolina University Alumni Association” in the LinkedIn groups directory and then click “join group”.  Once you are a part of the group you can contribute to group discussions, post news articles, job search, and reach out to alumni for advice.  Friends and family are also a huge part of growing your network.  You want to connect with anyone you have a real relationship with whether it’s aunts and uncles, your friends’ parents, or your neighbors.  These people all have professional experiences you may benefit from, and maybe more importantly, they have careers built on contacts in all kinds of industries and companies and it’s easy to connect with them.  Another way to find connections is to upload your email contacts.  Once you upload your contacts you can pick and choose who you want to connect with and it will tell you who’s already on LinkedIn.

Once you get your present yourself in the best way possible and establish connections, you want to build good word.  A recommendation is a good measure of your qualifications.  People who have enjoyed working with you in the past will want to recommend you to help support your career.  Recommendations give potential employees a snapshot of your past and your potential, and they definitely use them to consider the merit of a candidate when hiring.  The great thing is that asking your contacts for a recommendation is easy: all you have to do is click “request recommendations” for any position on your profile.  From there, you can hand pick the connections who knew you at that job and customize a request to them.  You will want to request recommendations from professors, employers, internship directors, or anyone else who can speak to the quality of your work. 

How can you stand out from the pack? 

There’s always competition for good jobs and you need a little something to distinguish yourself from the crowd.  Show off your best work!  Applications on LinkedIn are one of the ways you can do just that.  If you did a PowerPoint presentation for one of your classes that you are really proud of you can feature that on your profile with Google Presentations or SlideShare.  If you have other files like a video or portfolio, PDFs or image files, you can put those on your profile with Box.net.  You can even use the WordPress application to add a link to your WordPress blog, if you have one.  These and other applications are available by simply clicking “Applications” on your sidebar. 

It’s one thing to have a good resume, but to have a LinkedIn profile stacked with all your experience, recommendations from people who have worked with you, and actual files of your work that employers can judge for themselves, that makes a powerful impression.  Beyond that, LinkedIn has the amazing ability to make previously unknown connections transparent for you to see.  If you want to work for a particular company, check out LinkedIn Companies, a resource that can quickly tell you what employees are in your network, who has recently been hired or promoted, and where people worked before they were hired at that company.  This can help you discover the relationships you already have that can lead to a job.

Do you feel ready yet?

Getting your online identity established is an important step in putting yourself out in the professional community and it will help you keep up with the relationships that will help you succeed.  So get started today and you will have taken your first steps to professional success!

Good luck!

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Student Feature: Christopher Baker

I’m pretty sure that everyone has a reason for choosing ECU as their college to attend. Some chose to come because of the schools location or the sports here at ECU.  I’m sure some chose to come here because of the outstanding medical programs that ECU offers, or even because of the low price of tuition.  I must also assume that some of us chose to come here because of the outstanding College of Business here at ECU. While we all may have similar reasons for attending, I bet that we all have different experiences in the route we chose to get here in the first place. Today, I have decided to share my story of how I ended up becoming a pirate.

After attending high school in Greenville, I really felt that it was time to get away from this town.   I chose to go to a private university in Virginia. The tuition was more expensive than ECU, but I felt that playing football and having decent grades would offset the difference in cost. Well, my grades turned out to be pretty good but due to spinal injuries, I had to walk away from college football.  Since I no longer got scholarship money, I decided to transfer to ECU for my sophomore year and I have been a pirate ever since.  The Pirate Nation is truly a great nation to be part of and I can proudly say that I will be graduating with a degree in Business Management next December.

 

We have wonderful academics, tremendous school spirit, outstanding athletics, great partying, and of course, ECU’s College of Business is one of the best in the state of North Carolina.

I’m proud that I chose to transfer to ECU, home of the Pirates, and I look forward to being a proud alumnus in the near future!

AAAAARGGHHHH!

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Will Pictures From Last Weekend Keep You From Getting the Job You Want?

We all know ECU’s reputation as a party school.  We’re in college, and let’s face it, most of us are going to party.  Although partying responsibly may be harmless, we oftentimes have to deal with the negative consequences afterwards.  No, I’m not talking about the hangover you might have the next day or the empty wallet some of us might regret the next day.  I’m talking about pictures.  You might think seeing pictures of you and your friends from last weekend are funny and harmless, but as business students, we need to keep in mind the problems that these wild and crazy pictures might cause.

I’m sure you have all heard that employers sometimes look at prospective employees’ Facebook accounts and do other online research before considering hiring, or sometimes even before interviewing.  It’s important as business students to keep this in mind, but more importantly, to know that employers almost ALWAYS do this.  Your online reputation might be more important to your future success than you think.  It’s important to always make sure you represent yourself in the best way possible so that your wild Friday nights don’t keep you from getting a job.

How can you protect your online reputation?  For starters, you should make sure that you take advantage of privacy settings for any social media sites that you have for personal use.  Most people nowadays have their Facebook’s set to private so that only “Friends” can see your pictures and wall activity, but I’ve found that the majority of Twitter users do not use privacy settings.  Most of my friends that use Twitter have public accounts, and I have also found that most people are much more inappropriate on Twitter than other social networking sites. 

Do you think your boss would still want to hire you if he saw the pictures of you chugging beers?  Or if he saw the pictures of you dirty dancing in the club?  Although you might view these pictures as harmless, it creates an image that most employers don’t want associated with their company.  Do you think your boss would still hire you if they saw your tweets about you staying up drinking all night 5 nights a week?  Or if they knew you showed up to work late every day at your previous job?  Or if they knew how many classes you skipped each week?  These are all things that I see on Twitter almost every day and they are guaranteed deal breakers when it comes time to applying for jobs in the business world.

What else can you do to protect your online reputation?  Set your privacy settings so that you have to approve things your friends post on your wall before it appears on your wall and so that you have to approve tags before pictures of you are posted.  What else can you do?  If you’re really concerned with the way you look to prospective emlpoyers there are online services you can use.  Reputation.com is an online service that allows users to create and establish their online presence in order to look better to human resources directors.  The service allows users to keep tabs on how they look online and to get alerts when content about them appears on the internet.  It also allows users to gauge their visibility and search activity- they can learn how many people are looking for them, how often, and from what location. 

So what DO we want employers to see?  Well, online professional networking sites like Linkedin are the types of sites you want employers finding when they run a search for your name.  Linkedin is a business-related social networking site that allows users to share what they want to share with employers such as current job title, past experience, education, special skills, and much more.  More or less, Linkedin is a place to brag about yourself and show employers why they should hire you.  Employers often use Linkedin to search for potential candidates and to post jobs.  Utilizing professional networking sites such as Linkedin can not only help you find a job, but it can help you convince an employer that you are the right candidate for the job.

So remember, you control what employers can find out about you, and ultimately, you control if you get the job or not.  Do everything you can now to protect your online reputation and I can guarantee you have a much better shot at getting the job of your dreams!

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Student Feature: Jon Greene

From Pledge Brothers to Business Leaders-

 A look into pledge brothers’ first semester as COB students

Every year when fraternities begin the recruitment process, each fraternity looks for the best young leaders to bring into their brotherhood.  As a brother of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, I have had the opportunity to watch eight young business leaders pledge Phi Gamma Delta this semester.  Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity has high standards for all brothers to achieve scholastic success in the classroom.  Each pledge is pushed to strive for excellence in and out of the classroom.

A good first impression for first semester freshman who have just arrived on campus from high school can make or break a students collegiate career.  The first couple weeks of classes can seem very stressful and intimidating for freshmen that aren’t used to a college classroom setting.  When asked about his first impressions of his classes at ECU, Harrison Matthews stated that “the courses seem to be rigorous and challenging, but the rewards of a degree in business from ECU will be very valuable after I graduate.”  This is true for many freshmen who are not used to the workload of college courses.

“The courses seem to be rigorous and challenging, but the rewards of a degree in business from ECU will  be very valuable after I graduate”

 

One major difference from high school to college is the amount of work required outside of the classroom.  Students may have done well in high school putting little effort, if any at all, into studying outside of classes.  It is very important for first year students to learn good study habits early to help them succeed in the classroom.  Jesse Jernigan, another pledge of Phi Gamma Delta, stated, “Since I am pledging a fraternity, I am required to complete a certain number of study hours at Joyner Library.  I think going to the library and studying each day helps prepare me for all of my classes.”  Using resources like the Pirate Tutoring Center helps many students in tough freshman and sophomore level classes.  This service provides struggling students help from more experienced college students.  The Pirate Tutoring Center helps assist students with homework assignments, teaches them studying tips, and answers questions about the material.

All in all, every pledge brother has learned what it takes to do well in college.  As college students, you must ask questions during class, take advantage of your professors’ office hours as much as possible, and thouroughly prepare yourself to do well on tests.  Balance and time management skills are not acquired in a book, but rather learned from experience and will prepare you to have a successful and fun-filled college career at East Carolina.

Good luck this semester!

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Student Feature: Kate Nelson

Hey fellow Pirates!

As a way to welcome you to the Pirate Nation and give you a little insight on all of the things East Carolina has to offer you, I would love to share my story.

My name is Kate Nelson and I am currently a Senior here at East Carolina and have been so lucky to be a part of the Universities program as a Peer Mentor.  This position allows me to share all the things I have learned and experienced with all of you so you have a chance to make the next four years at ECU as fulfilling as I have.

I am from Raleigh, North Carolina and when I graduated high school, I noticed that a large majority of students were attending ECU in the fall.  At first I saw it as a positive, a way for me to find comfort in an unknown area.  The first few weeks of college I realized that it shouldn’t be about finding a comfort zone to run to, it should be about pushing you out of your area of comfort.  I quickly decided that I was going to put a strong effort into making new friends and being involved in clubs and organizations. 

“Take advantage of your dorm!”

So many of my close friends today are people that I met in the dorms.   I strongly urge everyone to involve yourself in an organization, particularly one that is involved directly with your major.  Believe it or not, this is a great way to help you network and learn more about your interest in a career path.  On top of student organization involvement, you can always seek involvement in our athletics, especially helping out at games.  ECU has so much spirit!  I have never seen such a proud student fan base!  Our pride in our teams gives us such a feeling of unity throughout the University.

Besides being involved in clubs, I believe that one of the biggest benefits the university offers is their study abroad programs.  I traveled to Spain my Junior year for a semester abroad and I highly recommend this experience to anyone that is willing to go.  I gained so much from the experience and will forever use the skills and knowledge I picked up throughout my travels. 

So for now, remember to take a chance on the unknown and challenge yourself to learn new things!

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Student Feature: Marisa Melchiorre

“It’s a pride thing, a leadership thing.  You don’t just become a Pirate; you have to pay a price” stated Jeff Connor, the new ECU Strength and Conditioning coach.  

My quest to become an ECU Pirate was not as I had planned.  That journey led me where I am today and made my milestones more gratifying.

To me, being an ECU Pirate means taking advantage of every opportunity to find the hidden treasures presented to you.  It means having pride and joy in everything that is Purple and Gold and carrying that Pirate spirit in the present day and in future aspirations. Coming all the way from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I sought after my hidden treasures in Greenville, NC.   I desired academic excellence and key success factors and opportunities in this critical chapter of my life.  Unfortunately, the admissions process for me was not typical.  Due to over admission for out-of-state students, I was required to wait until the Spring of 2010 to reapply.  But in true Pirate spirit, I searched for other options.  In Fall of 2009, I began my collegiate journey at Pitt Community College.  With East Carolina University just within my reach, I worked diligently in my classes at PCC and successfully transferred all my classes with outstanding grades.  All of my hard work and dedication paid off when I was accepted into ECU for the Spring semester of 2010 and went on to receive Chancellor’s List honors for the term. This was just the start of my experience and I am proud to consider myself an official ECU Pirate, continuously searching for more “treasures” to come my way.

“Being an ECU Pirate means taking advantage of every opportunity to find the hidden treasures presented to you.”

Week after week, my email is inundated with various invitations to join clubs, organizations, and honor societies.  Being the active student that I am, I sincerely wish I could be a part of each and every one, if only time allowed.  Instead, I have committed myself to being an ECU cheerleader, a French tutor at the Pirate Tutoring Center, the Treasurer of the French Club, participating in leadership reading circles, and I am now currently a peer mentor for the College of Business.  Leadership is an important part of being an ECU Pirate, and fortunately a skill this university strives to help its students develop.  I have taken advantage of these opportunities and, as a peer mentor, strongly encourage fellow and prospective students to consider the same.  My leadership roles in these clubs and organizations have helped me prepare for future endeavors and increase my network of resources.

“Leadership is an important part of being an ECU Pirate, and fortunately a skill this university strives to help its students develop.”

My experience here, although not close to being complete, has already taught me important qualities of pride, leadership, service, and dedication. Purple and Gold will always run through my veins and so will my experiences and lessons learned through my time in Greenville. So remember, although your years here may be limited, take every opportunity that crosses your path to build a solid foundation for your future successes!

Best of luck!

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