Though LinkedIn, the social-networking site, has been around officially since 2003 and just passed the 100 million-users mark, many people "don't use it to full capacity," seeing it as more of an online resume and networking site, says Kathryn Borowski, director of human resources with GreyStone Staffing in Massapequa.
Think of it, instead, as a "24/7 virtual conference for professionals," a place for people to connect, reconnect, research, keep up with what's new on a daily basis, says Donna Sweidan, a career coach in Manhattan who speaks on best practices for using LinkedIn.
In keeping with that view, here are three recently announced LinkedIn features to help users be more social and up-to-date.
Skills and expertise:Found under the "more" tab, this is a new area where people can select skills to include on their profiles -- terms that also serve as keywords that will bring them up higher on the list when recruiters and others search.
Users can also see terms and skills that are on the rise, skills they might want to develop and lingo they might want to use. For instance, "talent management" is up-to-date terminology in her industry, says Borowski, who is also founder and moderator of a LinkedIn group called "Career Choices."
In her own case, she's working on an employee benefits certification, and in the skills area she's found others with that same certification, people with a similar interest to whom she might connect. She's also found relevant groups to join and companies to follow. "You can get a lot of information from one little page," she says.
The skills area is also a place to research emerging new jobs and careers, says Sweidan. Check out "social media" and you find about 20 related skill sets or job functions.
LinkedIn Today: Click on the "news" tab and you'll find a daily news digest made up of headlines that have been shared by LinkedIn members. It's a place to get clued in to the day's buzz in a number of industries you can choose, such as management consulting, marketing and advertising, staffing or entertainment.
At a time when professional development is all up to you, it's just one way to upgrade your knowledge and stay relevant, says Sweidan.
And, of course, you can also do it in a social way, as you can check out the profiles of people with similar interests who've shared those headlines. Making new connections beyond your immediate circle is important, she says, especially for job hunters who may have "maxed out on their immediate networks."
Student job portal: Go to LinkedIn.com/studentjobs and see the reminder that "All superstars start somewhere." This is the new portal, launched last month, where students and new gradates can search for entry-level jobs.
Laurie Hollister, associate director of the career center at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, said she just spotted the portal and has added the link to the center's website.
"We demo LinkedIn to our students all the time through group workshops and one-on-one sessions," she says. "It has great value if you're a networker."
Advice from LinkedIn to students and new grads: "To expand your network, join your university alumni group. Connect to fellow students and see where they've found jobs, reach out to alumni whose companies are hiring."
Also to check out:
Resume Builder: Found at LinkedInLabs.com, this is an experimental feature that will take information from your profile and turn it into a resume, one you can edit, print out and share on the web. Using a variety of templates, you can create and manage multiple resumes.
New Sections: You can enhance your profile by adding languages, patents and publications, as well as sharing content such as your tweets, WordPress blog and SlideShare presentations.
Companies: Don't forget this feature that allows you to "follow" companies of interest. When you do follow one, click on "check out insightful statistics" and you'll find data on new hires, who's left the organization, most popular job functions, where employees worked before and where they moved on to, as well as who else is following the company. (Know that others will see when you follow a company.)