May 04

LinkedIn is perfect for experienced professionals. Students need something else.

LinkedIn is the largest business-oriented social network in the world. They reported a whopping 128 million active users in the United States at the end of 2016. Of those users, only 21% are ages 18-24 (you know… the age when most people are actively pursuing their first degree). Most people that use LinkedIn are considered experienced professionals. And the most active users are recruiters and salespeople.

If your goal is to attract more resumes from experienced recruiters and salespeople, then LinkedIn is ripe with opportunity. Not our opinion… just a reflection of the user base and behavior. If your goal is to attract, engage, and hire students for internships or recent college grads for their first “real” job… then take a moment to consume the rest of this article and consider how you should adjust your own inbound recruiting strategy to account for the student persona.

Remember when you were the new kid?

LinkedIn is designed to reflect real-world, professional connections. It’s a network that helps people in the workforce interact with one another. It’s incredibly helpful when you meet someone at an event and want to keep the conversation going afterward. Have you ever tried using LinkedIn to meet complete strangers? Not so helpful. But that’s the position many students begin with. Like walking into a room full of people that all know each other and only have to learn one new name… yours. All the while, you’re trying to learn 100 new names and how they all relate to one another. It’s daunting. It’s intimidating. It’s nearly impossible to navigate for students that are insecure about their experiences and lack the on-paper qualifications to confidently approach the “inner-circle” of the business elite.

“Oh but… we’re incredibly welcoming and have plenty of opportunities for students listed on LinkedIn. They shouldn’t feel intimidated to talk to us…”

You’re absolutely right. Students shouldn’t be so intimidated. But it’s human nature to focus on your own inadequacies. We can’t help it. Especially in our formative years – when we’re expected to know exactly what we want to do with the rest of our lives. LinkedIn is fine. It’s the strongest professional networking site on the planet. It serves a great purpose. Just understand that purpose isn’t to be the most helpful tool for students entering the workforce. It plays a role. Utilize it as a piece of your inbound recruiting strategy. Don’t rely on it completely to meet all of your student recruiting efforts. You’ll miss out on a lot of students who simply don’t understand how it works, where to start, or what to say.

What if someone had approached you first?

When you’re the incumbent in the room, the new kid sticks out like a sore thumb. They’re unsure of themselves, of their surroundings, and their next move. The hospitable member of the group will notice this immediately and break the ice to begin assimilation. Having someone on the inside vouching for you to the rest of the group is incredibly valuable for new faces in the community.

Be that hospitable member for the students you’re trying to recruit. Meet them where they’re at. Understand what challenges are right in front of them. Guide them and nurture them through the networking process. Be a social/professional champion for them. Help them meet new people inside (and outside) of your organization. People that share their interests and can be an example of their stated career trajectory.

Do all of this for them, and they will definitely be interested in learning more about the opportunities your organization has to offer.

Make it easy to find you.

There are a few things you can do on LinkedIn to set a “comfortable” tone with your profile.

  1. Use a professional headshot and smile.
  2. Use words like help, listen, introduce, open, and happy in your bio.
  3. Publish content (articles and shares) in the first person that deliver an “I’m here to help” and/or “let’s have coffee” attitude.
  4. Respond to connection requests quickly and warmly.
  5. Connect with the career services coordinators and professors at the schools that you want to build rapport with. Chances are, these people are connected to the students you’re trying to reach.

Beyond LinkedIn, consider taking your efforts straight to the students with webinars and video conferencing. St. Cloud State University hosted networking nights in the fall of 2016, and hundreds of students attended each event. Recruiters spoke with students one-on-one to give them networking tips as they pertain to their industry and region. Maybe one of your new connections with a professor or career services coordinator could help you organize a similar event?

Don’t limit your voice.

Matt Alder (host of Recruiting Future Podcast) recently conducted an interview with James Ellis of Bex Consultants. The entire episode is a solid listen, but what really caught our attention was James’ response to Matt’s question at 16:22. James eloquently states that we now have “billboard-ready” computers in our pockets. We can now deliver all kinds of high-quality content. And they all serve a specific purpose. People at their computers have either an active position – where they are leaning forward into their productivity; or they have a passive position – where they are leaning back and allowing the content to “wash over” them.

The point is, there’s no way for content creators to know the exact context with which the content will be consumed. So why limit your voice? When you create a new idea, create it in several mediums and allow your audience to consume it however best suits them in their particular context. This means creating written content, video content, auidio content, and slideshows all communicating the same ideas. Using a multi-medium (and multi-platform) approach for your content creation and distribution will significantly increase your chances of being heard.

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