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Building a positive online presence with Linked-In

By Katrina Koltz
On October 16, 2013

With the Illinois unemployment rate at a startling 9.2 percent in August, it is absolutely crucial to utilize all of the tools available to get noticed in the job market. Social media and technology are ever evolving and shaping our world. Because of its influence, it can promote or hinder employment opportunities. 70 percent of employers have rejected a job candidate because of information they found about that person online. Conversely, 85 percent of employers say that a positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions. Utilized properly, LinkedIn is an excellent place to build a positive online reputation by maintaining an active profile, connecting to professionals, and discovering new opportunities.

An active profile consists of an appropriate profile picture, an updated resume, and additional sections on your profile. Because your profile picture is quite influential in formulating first impressions, it is imperative to display a picture that portrays a professional image. This means a picture by yourself in professional attire with a neutral or solid background. The image can portray aspects of you that may not be evident in your resume such as confidence and poise. Make an appointment with Career Services to update or refresh your resume. They will ensure you are including all relevant information in a succinct and professional manner. Adding sections to your profile is a simple way to showcase your skills, qualifications, experience, and volunteer and extra-curricular activities.

Making and maintaining connections is one way to build your professional network. Connecting with faculty, alumni, past employers and colleagues, and other professionals in your field can accomplish this. When making a connection, be sure to add a personal message. The recipient will be much more likely to accept your request and endorse your skills in response. Once these connections are made, you can ask a current connection to "introduce" you to someone in their network. As you can see, this creates a chain reaction that helps increase your exposure to an ever-expanding network.

Finding new opportunities can be as easy as getting involved in groups and organizations in your field. You can do this by researching companies, career pathways, and professional associations and groups. Many valuable connections are made in these groups. Find and follow companies that are relevant to your field. Companies may post events or workshops that provide an opportunity to attend and introduce yourself to those in hiring positions. Posting relevant questions and articles to a group page can show that you are an involved individual who can offer valuable opinions and pertinent information. These are all factors in creating a positive online reputation that can cause employers to actively seek you out.

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