LinkedIn + Natural Sciences Majors = Success?

Our career advisors support many students through the internship and job search, and LinkedIn is always an interesting topic of conversation. Many students aren’t on LinkedIn, and this is often the case for DU alumni in Natural Sciences & Mathematics as well. In my experience, the students who are on LinkedIn usually have built a basic profile but aren’t actively using the platform to network. Though I can be a curmudgeon about technology (who needs social media when you can spend time outside and unplugged?), there is so much value that platforms like LinkedIn can provide to job and internship seekers.

I recently came across an article in the February issue of NACE Journal that analyzed how recruiters are currently using LinkedIn (thank you, Mary Michael Hawkins, for sharing the article with me!). Though many of the trends in usage haven’t changed much over time, there was one surprising data point specific to NSM. It turns out that recruiters are still using LinkedIn to locate potential candidates and review or screen candidate qualifications, but it appears that they are targeting specific majors when browsing candidate profiles. According to the article, 79% of recruiters seeking candidates in the hard sciences were most likely to use LinkedIn for this purpose (Wilder & Noble, 2017). Recruiters seeking students in the world of natural resources followed closely behind at 67 percent, and 60 percent of healthcare recruiters are mining LinkedIn. Overall, more than two-thirds of recruiters were using LinkedIn over the past three years for either a full-time or internship search (Wilder & Noble, 2017). While building a brand-new LinkedIn profile can take a little while, it is incredibly worthwhile.

Going beyond the numbers, LinkedIn is a valuable resource for any NSM major. It’s no secret that many students, within and beyond NSM, are deeply involved in a number of experiential learning opportunities, internships, research positions, student organizations…and the list goes on. It can be challenging to fully highlight a student’s skill set and experiences on a one-page resume. I love LinkedIn because it gives students the chance to provide a recruiter or prospective employer with the full scope of what they’re involved in and why it matters to them. The headline and summary sections are particularly important for this purpose; while it’s not easy to communicate the why behind choosing a major or career path on a resume, a compelling summary might be a ticket to the next internship or job opportunity.

In addition, LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to present visual examples of skills and experiences that a resume might not be able to fully capture. I often highlight the importance of uploading electronic copies of poster presentations, visual representations of models or data analyzed for a research project, or links to portfolios or websites coded by students in NSM. Students work so hard on building the perfect poster for the Research & Scholarship Symposium and for their classes – why not share that information with employers, especially if one is seeking to build on that research experience in an internship or in life after DU?

While it’s important to build a strong LinkedIn profile, learning how to use LinkedIn for both career exploration and the internship or job search is also key. The LinkedIn Alumni Tool is a fun resource for uncovering NSM alumni. I often suggest that students start out by simply using it as a research tool; what are DU graduates in your major(s) up to, and how did they get to where they are today? The tool is filterable by location, employer, major, and more; both the aggregate data at the top of the page and the individual results at the bottom change based on search criteria entered.

If you have questions about building your LinkedIn profile with your research skills in mind, please feel free to contact your Career Advisor and they would be happy to brainstorm with you! In addition, we have a great workshop series coming up in spring quarter that you don’t want to miss!

Create a Compelling & Professional LinkedIn Profile

  • April 9 | 6-7pm | Lindsay Auditorium (Sturm Hall)

The Power of Networks: Leveraging Social Media

  • April 25 | 6-7pm; LinkedIn profile reviews 7-8pm | Lindsay Auditorium (Sturm Hall)

Reserve your spot on Pioneer Careers today!

By Kimberly English
Kimberly English Career Advisor Kimberly English