Networking is perhaps one of the most important skills for career development and is valuable for identifying how your interests/skills can translate into the work force. Networking platforms such as LinkedIn are a great place to start building your network. LinkedIn can expose you to career opportunities, identify assets potential employers are looking for in an employee and allow recruiters to find you.
In Grade 10, students in Ontario are required to take a careers course. This begins the serious discussion of what their desired career path is, what further education is needed to reach that goal and how the course requirements for that program will affect their secondary school education. This can be a daunting task. Networking platforms can expose you to careers you may not have known existed and help isolate the ones that interest you.
Students can create a LinkedIn account as early as age 16. This professional networking site allows you to connect with employers, schools, friends, companies and more.
Tip: Follow your school(s) on LinkedIn. You can connect with faculty and staff as well as the alumni community. These people have a wealth of knowledge and potentially work in your desired field.
There are endless opportunities, and you won’t find them unless you start looking. Even if you only have a basic idea of what field you are interested in; start following people in that field. Most people want to share what they have learned and want to help people who are going down a similar path. All you have to do is ask.
Tip: It's all about the exchange of ideas. Share what you know and be prepared to learn from others. Networking is a great way to increase your knowledge of your desired field.
Once you know where you want to work, use LinkedIn for interview research. Look through their job postings and who currently works for them to see how you fit in their company. Be prepared to answer how you will add value if you are hired.
Tip: Use your potential employers' language from job descriptions and value statements in your profile. If they see themselves reflected in you, it makes it easier to envision you as a part of their company/organization.
In the beginning, networking platforms are useful to explore the work force, learn and connect with people. Over time, as you gain experience and develop your profile, you can be discovered by head-hunters and recruiters. As a professional site, LinkedIn provides a level of credibility to your profile, and that is why it is trusted by head-hunters. Using LinkedIn gives you a chance to market yourself and may provide opportunities that otherwise would not come your way.
Tip: Your profile should tell the story of who you are. Employers are more likely to hire you if they can see who you are as a person beyond your qualifications.
There is no reason to wait. Put yourself out there and start building your network now!
Click here for tips from the Harvard Business Review on how to elevate your LinkedIn profile.
Don’t forget to connect with Albert College on LinkedIn.