Optimize your LinkedIn network and profile
Thursday, February 6, 2020
by: Jacqueline Morris, Baldwin Wallace University

Section: Features

Linked in has more than 500 million members and is quickly becoming a mechanism for employers to find the right person for a job. In addition, professionals are using the platform as a mechanism to highlight and discuss professional topics, employment trends, discuss scientific discoveries and seek employment.

Encourage students to engage with professionals in their field about their career of interest of set up an informational interview. Jobs in bio-tech, pharmaceuticals and applied sciences are growing so students should build their networks early

Here are a few ways in which LinkedIn may benefit you and your students. First, if you write a blog then LinkedIn articles can to uploaded reach a broad group of professionals. It is easy to publish and you can share LinkedIn articles on Facebook and Twitter to expand your social media coverage. Second, consider a departmental LinkedIn page to connect with alumnae, potential employers, and to recruit prospective students. It might be worth a discussion with the admissions office to address how you can work with them to highlight research, awards, and student successes. While prospective students are not likely on LinkedIn, their parents, parents’ friends, coaches and community leaders are and serve as influencers in the college application process. To reach high school students, departments should focus on Instagram and Snapchat. Linked in can serve as a repository for writing samples, publication lists, etc. which is literally an electronic, organized resume/CV. Here a few tips on how to improve your own LinkedIn profile and to use it as a networking tool.
  1. Create a clear headline. First, your headline should be a few key words that describe who you are. Use an adjective to describe you followed by your title. You can use Professor, but I prefer specific words that convey a clear meaning. For example, experienced cell biologist, renowned geneticist, accomplished neuroscientist rather than professor. If your students are looking for a job then their title should include an aspect of their future job (capable behaviorist, aspiring biochemist, and budding molecular biologist) so that recruiters and employers will know their job aspirations. Separate this with a bullet point and then add in a talent, core competency followed by an identifier word (budgeting guru, grading genius). The final bullet should be an extracurricular activity that you do such as marathon runner or gardener.
  2. Create a descriptive summary.  Start with the introduction or your elevator pitch explaining who you are to the world, explain your strengths and include accomplishments here. Accomplishments are best if you can quantitate them so that a clear outcome is demonstrated (two poster presentations, 400 hours of animal work, 4000 hours in classroom instruction). Students should include clear goal or outcome for employment and faculty can include a future goal or aspiration as well. LinkedIn would be a great way to network to identify sponsors for FUN travel awards or to support regional symposium.
  3. Network with other professionals. A LinkedIn profile with over 500 connections will appear in more searches by employers. However, you also want to build your network carefully and deliberately. Every time you send a request, you should also send a message to the person on why you want to connect and ask them an open-ended question. You may request that students in your classroom connect with each other as well as you. Also, suggest students to reach out to employees of companies or with individuals that they want to work with in the future. Encourage students to engage with professionals in their field about the career or set up an informational interview. If students develop their LinkedIn network, maintain it throughout college, they will have a solid foundation network when they graduate. Although not many academic scientists use LInkedIn, they should. Only a minority of students who obtain their Ph.D. will end up in an academic position, yet the unemployment rate for Ph.D.’s is only 1.1%. Therefore, they must be working somewhere. Ph.D.’s have transferable skills to be hired in a variety of fields and industries. Jobs in biotech, pharmaceuticals and applied sciences are growing so students should build their networks early.

So, let’s connect on LinkedIn. Send me an invitation to connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacquelinemorrisphd/

Donna Serdula The LinkedIn Makeover https://www.linkedin-makeover.com/

Jones, Elka. (2002-2003) Beyond Supply and Demand Assessing the PhD Job Market Occupational

Outlook Quarterly https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2002/winter/art03.pdf