A good question to ask when thinking about starting a degree like the William Woods University online Associate of Liberal Arts degree is this — can I begin to polish my online professional profile?
Start with LinkedIn, a networking social site that’s been around for 10 years. If you do not already have a profile, look at a good beginner’s guide to help you get started. Relax, plenty of new users arrive at sites like LinkedIn every day. Below are some steps for growing your online profile as you advance toward a degree and a possible career or job change.
1. Keep profile updated.
Use a professional-looking photo and up-to-date information on your LinkedIn profile. But don’t just fill in the blanks once and forget about it. When you volunteer or learn a new skill, take the time to update your profile. Too many people consider this a static page when in reality it’s a page that keeps evolving.
2. Find and become active in groups.
LinkedIn offers users millions of groups worth joining, organized around specific job types or other interests. There is even a group celebrating adult learners week each year. According to the article, 4 Ways Linkedin Groups Can Help Your Job Search, you should, “bring up discussion topics that help showcase your knowledge and skills and refer to areas you are interested in, that way, you will grab the attention of relevant contacts. Remember networking is not only about what you can get, focus first on making a positive contribution to the group and its members.”
3. Adult learning continues to evolve
The old expression, ‘ you never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is still true today. Speak from real experience about your successes and challenges as an adult learner — it’s a field that continues to explore how best to meet the needs of students just like yourself. Avoid using this or any social media site as a place to ask for help — instead be a resource. Before you make a post, ask yourself what it says about your future value to an employer.
4. Get smarter about where your skills are needed.
Going back to school is the perfect time to think about what your next step could be and you can use LinkedIn to explore your options. Here’s two examples, first, scroll through profiles of those who have jobs you love to have to see the steps they took to land that position. Second, start following companies you would like to work at and you’ll start to understand the culture, know when they post openings and might discover you know someone who works there. Here is a good resource on Linked In and job hunting
5. Set up email alerts for jobs.
Pull down the job tab on LinkedIn, type in something related to your job — current or aspirational. You can search for companies looking to recruit people with similar interests or skills. You can customize your search by specific geographic location and you’ll also see which of your connections are employed at these organizations.