While becoming the #1 social network for professionals, LinkedIn has accumulated a treasure trove of data on its users. Finally we get to see what it has been doing with this data, and the implications are huge for career services professionals. A couple of days ago the company rolled out a new feature that uses this data to allow students, prospective students, alumni, schools, and employers to better navigate higher education through outcome-based rankings and other career exploration tools. These tools are useful for career services professionals for three main reasons:
- they help kids start thinking about post-graduate life before they even step on campus
- they help liberal-arts students become more active in the career services process
- they help the career center become more efficient
Coming up is an overview of these tools and a discussion of why they are important for career services professionals.
How does LinkedIn's new feature work?
There are a number of perspectives by which one can approach this feature. You may be an employer, alumni, student, prospective student, or career services professional. No matter which one, LinkedIn provides you with four main tools:
- University Rankings
- University Finder
- Field of Study Explorer
- The Decision Board
LinkedIn creates their rankings by finding the top companies in a certain field and then leveraging user data to figure out who works for these top companies. For more information about how they designate companies as “top companies” look here. LinkedIn then examines where these people went to school. For each school they identify the percentage of alumni who have landed jobs at “top companies” and then use this percentage to come up with the rankings.
The University Finder helps students decide what universities are the best for the career paths they are considering. Users can plug in where they want to work, where they want to live, and what they want to study and LinkedIn will spit out school recommendations. At this stage the user can look at LinkedIn's data on specific schools, which includes the top employer and information about where alumni are now.
Field of Study Explorer
Here the user plugs in a field of study and LinkedIn lets them see who has studied the same thing and what they are doing now. For example, if you are a history major you will be able to see where history majors work, what they do, and where they went to school. This allows liberal-arts majors who are generally not as career motivated to get a better picture of what other liberal-arts majors have done with their degrees. This information will help them connect with alumni, potential employers, and other students.
The Decision Board asks what the user wants to study and why, and then allows the user to browse through schools that have a strong LinkedIn presence in that area. By probing students about their motivations it forces them to really think about their choices. Why do I want to go to this school? Why do I want to study psychology? Both are good questions worth answering. Lastly, when the user posts the specific schools she is looking at, people can leave comments giving further insight and advice about which school to attend.
Why This Matters to Career Service Professionals
LinkedIn helps strengthen career services by getting students involved with career preparation before they even get to college. Once these students are in college they will continue to build their profiles and tell their stories to employers.
Furthermore, by introducing LinkedIn to students before they even get to campus this new feature primes them to take advantage of their career center once on campus.
If you are a Career Services Professional you need to go on LinkedIn and see how the feature works. If you haven't already, create a LinkedIn group for your office and invite students to participate in the discussion. Post relevant articles and information about events.
You should also look up past alums and see who is active. Try to get those who are in for events and talks. Use the incredible data to your advantage. Knowing where your students go after graduation will help you advise current students, run more targeted events, and build a greater network of connections.
For instance, if you want to hold an event for English majors, you can use LinkedIn to spread the word and to find local alums working in different industries to come speak at your event. This gives you a targeted and diverse event just for English majors. In short, LinkedIn's new feature should be used to bolster career services.
For more information see the following video, and good luck helping students achieve their goals!