The College Student's Guide to LinkedIn

The career-focused social networking site LinkedIn is sometimes jokingly referred to as 'Facebook for adults,' a Web destination where employment-minded individuals (often aged 25 and up) go to connect with each other and look for new job opportunities. LinkedIn, looking to combat a purported lack of interest from younger users, has recently made additions to their user profiles focused solely on college achievements.

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Social Networking in the Business World

LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool for professionals looking to share their resumes online, provide links to their websites and portfolios or connect to others with similar jobs and interests. However, because of its career-oriented nature, it might scare off those who just entered the professional world, or those who are about to. Can college students or the recently graduated stand to gain by using the site?

In an effort to help out the younger members of its potential user base, LinkedIn added a number of new features to its user profiles in mid-July 2011, all based on accomplishments achieved while in college. The idea is that users fresh to the job market can gain equal footing with their more experienced competitors by showcasing academic achievements. With these new student-centric sections, LinkedIn users can spotlight the following information.

Courses: This section is especially helpful if users have taken advanced coursework or have studied a wide range of material in school. Employers like to know that job applicants have challenged themselves academically, and LinkedIn hopes their users can show that off here.

Honors & Awards: LinkedIn's blog boasts that listing academic awards or honors provides 'objective validation' of one's college achievements. This section can include notations like scholarships, making the Dean's List or earning a special commendation in a course.

Organizations: Though LinkedIn profiles already let users list their college extracurricular activities, this new section goes more in-depth, allowing for more full explanations of an individual's duties, achievements and contributions.

Projects: Students can add information about major research projects or other class activities here, especially if those projects gave them experience relevant to their future professional paths.

Test Scores: Student assessments like tests and grades continue to be important gauges of achievement after college is done. Here users can add information like GPA or GRE scores.

Help All Around

Of course these new features aren't just relevant to younger users; certainly the Honors, Organizations and Projects categories could have applications to adults who pursue special activities either within or outside of their careers, such as major nonprofit work. Although LinkedIn profiles already offer a place for that information, these new student-centric options afford more depth and customizability.

Though these alterations may not divest LinkedIn from its 'Facebook for adults' status, they certainly offer a way for younger career-minded people to create profiles that compete with those from more established professionals. In a tough job market, any such advantage seems to be one worth utilizing, especially considering that, like most social networking sites, LinkedIn offers most of its services for free. Though lengthy lists of some users' professional accomplishments may startle some of the site's younger visitors, LinkedIn's new tools can make it easier for those visitors to accrue numerous accomplishments of their own.

Read about Fridge, a new social network that has made privacy and security its top goals.

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