Bridging the Gap: College Career Offices and the Use of LinkedIn to Reach out to Alumns

LinkedIn, often called by some of my fellow peers to be the “corporate version of Facebook”, is becoming a popular method for university career services to connect with alumni who are spread out across the country. While many universities also use Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn is becoming a preferred method of connecting via social media because of its level of professionalism. Unlike other social media platforms where connecting with someone may also include seeing photos of their most recent vacation, LinkedIn highlights current and previous jobs, professional skills and recommendations, and educational credentials.

Alums can join members-only alumni groups of the universities they have attended, network and participate in discussions through group posts, and have access to a wide breadth of information related to what institutions or industry sectors other alums are working in. This wealth of data is easily to access and even usually much more up to date and accurate than what the university is able to keep on file for their graduates.

I found this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education written by Hannah Winston to be very interesting and creative, especially in regards to connecting with alums who may be miles away from their alma mater. Despite LinkedIn’s gaining popularity and user-friendly design, not all universities or career services departments are embracing its use. As reported by Winston, according to an administrator at Syracuse University, rolling out the social media strategy has been somewhat challenging. For example, when the school’s career services department began using LinkedIn, some alums who did not have an account called to report that they felt left out by the process. Other universities and institutions approach LinkedIn with a similarly cautious approach, according to Winston’s article, seeing it as potential competition to carefully designed fee based membership programs meant to offer similar alumni connection networks.

In my own experiences working in higher education, I see more benefits and strengths than weaknesses for embracing technology and social media platforms such as LinkedIn. However, I also believe that universities shouldn’t immediately abandon more “old school” methods of connecting such as email or mail in favor of LinkedIn and other tech tools. What is certain is that LinkedIn is definitely a game changer in terms of how we understand and initiate the networking process.

Questions for further discussion and thought:
– Do you use social media to network? If so, how?
–Ā  What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses for using social media platforms such as LinkedIn? How have your experiences confirmed these observations?
– What do you think are the “best practices” for embracing the benefits accorded by technology to bringing a dispersed group of individuals together?

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7 thoughts on “Bridging the Gap: College Career Offices and the Use of LinkedIn to Reach out to Alumns

  1. Pingback: Bridging the Gap: College Career Offices and the Use of LinkedIn to Reach out to Alumns | Social Media

  2. I think Linkedin is an extremely powerful tool, and perfect for Alum to stay engaged in what is currently happening at their respective universities, colleges, and schools. Thinking back to keeping a network around a school without the power of social media and the internet, is very difficult to imagine. Again, great post and thank you for sharing.

    • Right?! I totally love LinkedIn. I think it is also a super great and easy way for students and soon-to-be graduates to maintain a professional internet presence, especially considering how often employers are vetting the appropriateness of potential hires via Google searches.

  3. LinkedIn is proving to also foster Alumni groups at graduate and undergraduate levels. Some groups are further broken down into areas of interest/major, while others seem more general. Do you see a greater connection with these groups and the universities they are “attached” to? or will they just stay in their own little bubble?

    • From my experiences I would say it really depends on the college and university and the resources they provide for connecting with Alumni on LinkedIn. For example, even within Columbia University there are sometimes specific alumni groups for students of particular schools (Ex: Columbia College, etc.) or specific groups for particular academic programs. Along with alumni groups that are directly fostered by universities, there are also many different profession or interest related groups on LinkedIn as well. I think people do tend to congregate toward the universities they are attached to, but LinkedIn does provide similar networking platforms based for profession-based bubbles rather than just alma mater ones. šŸ™‚

  4. This is a very interesting topic! I have never used LinkedIn before. Actually, I didn’t even know what is it and how does it work. From your post I can see that there are many benefits that people get from LinkedIn especially if they want to stay in touch with the university. Thank you for sharing!

    • No problem! Glad you enjoyed – if you’ve ever found “Facebook stalking” to be fun (hahah I know we are all guilty!) wait till to sign up for LinkedIn! šŸ˜‰

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