“LinkedIn? That’s just Facebook for business people,” says the average young person.
Is it true that if you have a Facebook account, you don’t need a LinkedIn account? Maybe, but there are a few key differences to be mindful of when electing to use one of the two for your job-searching, network-building, mentor-finding, career-starting selves.
First of all, keep in mind who you’re connected to on each of these sites. Facebook is more of your friends, your family (including that one aunt whose invitation you left pending for 4 months because you didn’t know exactly how you knew her).
On LinkedIn, cut out the dorm friends and drinking buddies, and connect with their more professional counterparts (the job-seeking, life-is-not-just-about-partying counterparts). Feel free to connect with people you already know, such as your parents (yes I did just go there), family friends, past supervisors, past colleagues, etc. Keep your connections healthy by knowing what those people are up to now in their careers, congratulating them if they post a job status update, and sharing your own career story with them too. Being in-the-know and being connected is beneficial to you in the long run. Connecting with peers and idols also helps inspire you to do more in striving to achieve your own goals.
Your job prospects
Secondly, Facebook doesn’t provide job postings and leads to recruiters in the same way that LinkedIn does. Facebook is not really made for professional networking; it’s a social networking site. On LinkedIn, you can be part of professional groups such as “Realtors in < City>,” or “<City> association of Teachers,” etc. that help you connect to people in your own field. Facebook, on the other hand, lets you be a part of groups with common interests such as “<Music artist> lovers,” or “I run every morning,” etc. There are perks to both, certainly. But for professional purposes, it’s better for young people to be able to connect to the mentors, future colleagues, and leaders in their field(s) of interest.
Use LinkedIn to join groups, follow companies, and see the job postings. It will help you get a good idea of what the field is like. Employers more and more are using LinkedIn through their HR or external hiring agencies to find candidates that match their needs through their LinkedIn profiles. In no way does having a LinkedIn profile remove the need for a resume, but it’s a great ‘public’ showcase of your career/education highlights that you resume can go into detail with.
Most importantly, you need to take care of your image.
On Facebook, you share your frosh party photos, drunk clubbing photos, etc., and statuses that include ‘clever’ teenage remarks that later you realize are maybe a little wince-worthy, or cheesy song lyrics you don’t really want to be associated with anymore. You don’t necessarily want your colleagues, recruiters or future employers seeing that side of you.
Update your profile and add your education, volunteer experiences, leadership roles, skills and interests. Be sure to include any past positions you’ve held and outline the responsibilities you had.
People that know you in a less professional setting may not know the last internship you had, or the fact that you’re a co-chair of a college club you’ve been volunteering with for 2 years. Help them think of you as a professional, and watch the referrals and opportunities that open up.
With these things in mind, I hope you’re able to see the importance of LinkedIn (or at least of differentiating between your LinkedIn and your Facebook purposes and profiles).
Coming soon: Tips on how to make your student LinkedIn profile better.