The ever-evolving social media world can be tough to keep up with, particularly when it comes to job hunting. There are numerous online platforms with countless tools and applications designed to connect individuals with those with similar interests.

However, many of these platforms and tools tend to be more focused on the “social” aspect of social media. One major exception is LinkedIn, which is often referred to as the professional social network. With more than 120 million users worldwide, LinkedIn certainly seems to have cornered the professional networking market.

Although popular, the average LinkedIn user is in their mid-40s, which has created a perception among many younger professionals and college students that it’s not for them. But in these tough times, job seekers—no matter their age—need every edge they can get.

To learn more about why having a LinkedIn profile can benefit the modern job hunt, I spoke with the author of Getting from College to Career, and global spokesperson for LinkedIn, Lindsey Pollak

 Pollak referred to LinkedIn as “an online resume on steroids” and says that unfortunately, there is a “perception among students and young professionals that they can’t join LinkedIn until they have a real career.”

In order to shatter this myth, Pollak shared five reasons why both aspiring young professionals and seasoned workforce veterans should have a LinkedIn profile. According to Pollak, a LinkedIn profile is a great way to:

1) Manage Your Professional Brand: Your online presence is typically the first impression with a recruiter or business contact. Pollak says “recruiters will Google you,” and you need to be in control of what they are going to find. LinkedIn profiles typically rank high in Google searches. 

2) Organize Professional Relationships: LinkedIn is a great way to organize and manage professional relationships. Contacts you make during the job hunt and throughout your career may not necessarily make sense as Facebook friends. LinkedIn offers a platform for maintaining your professional network while keeping it separate from your personal life.   

3) Gather and Display Recommendations: LinkedIn has a tool for requesting and posting recommendations from other users who have worked with you professionally. This allows you to build your credibility by harnessing the power of third-party endorsements. Pollak points out that requesting a recommendation is also a great excuse for reaching out to former colleagues you may have lost touch with. 

4) Become an Expert: The best way to gain credibility in a field is to become a go-to resource. LinkedIn offers a number of tools for helping professionals engage with peers to exchange information and ideas. For example: LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn Answers, and LinkedIn Today are all great ways to reach out to colleagues and become part of the trending conversations in your field. When it comes to college students and new professionals, Pollak says these tools are “a great way to learn the lingo of your field and become a virtual insider.”

5) Attract Recruiters: Recruiters use LinkedIn. The job search isn’t always an active process, and hiring managers and recruiters use the tool to find candidates to fill openings. Pollak encourages users to pay attention to key words in their profiles, so be sure to have them peppered throughout the following sections of your LinkedIn profile:

  • •Summary
  • •Specialties
  • •Skills
  • •Recommendations

In these challenging times every advantage helps. Whether you are a graduating college student or a transitioning professional, it’s never too early or too late to start!

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook 

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. Dr. Woody is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership. Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook.