If there’s one thing most university students can agree on, it’s how difficult it is to find a job. Cue the millions of students creating LinkedIn accounts in the hopes of finding a job and making some steady income. Currently, 30 million of LinkedIn’s 259 million members are students and graduates, and this number only continues to grow.
And now, the professional networking site is working to increase the appeal to its fastest-growing demographic by introducing LinkedIn University Pages, a tool that helps educational institutions promote themselves. Each university’s page advertises itself by posting recent news and information about the school and engaging with prospective students. People who visit the page can update themselves on the institution’s activities, ask questions about programs, and see notable graduates and careers pursued by alumni.
More than anything, University Pages is a marketing tool, drawing in potential students and adding to LinkedIn’s clientele. Since its launch with 200 universities in August, University Pages has been adding about 200 more each week. There are currently approximately 1,500 university pages for institutions in over 60 countries.
But does the tool succeed in helping students? You’d think the most useful aspect of University Pages would be for potential employers to view the professional careers and employment of university graduates.
Isadora Petrovic, careers officer at U of T’s Faculty of Information, highly recommends students use both the university page and the LinkedIn community itself. “Networking is still one of the key strategies for obtaining employment, and I strongly suggest that students create LinkedIn accounts as a way of creating presence online,” says Petrovic. “[A] LinkedIn account should be yet another document, apart from a cover letter and resume, which can enhance a job application since it contains additional information that’s not listed on a resume.”
LinkedIn has a lot more work to do in order to catch the eye of the desired audience with University Pages, since they’re currently mostly viewed by alumni instead of potential students or employers. In this sense, the LinkedIn university pages appear to be competing with university Facebook pages, which draw a lot more attention.
A relatively new service, University Pages generally fulfills the purpose of promoting the institutions’ brands. In terms of helping university students and graduates find a job, the page is more of a place to build contacts than market one’s skills and work ethic. But the service shouldn’t be dismissed for that reason, in Petrovic’s opinion. “You never know—you might be ‘talking’ to your future supervisor,” she says.