October brings new tools for LinkedIn, some of them summarised in this blog post from the company. I’ve been exploring them,  and find the decision board tool particularly useful for students who are comparing different courses.  I particularly like the ‘conversation’ feature which allows users to post their thoughts/questions and then share the board with people they’d like to be ‘advisers’ – parents, teachers, peers, actual advisers – for feedback and contribution. A nice nod to how people actually make decisions there, and the role of feedback and support (Bill Law would be proud!)  Just as a complete recap, the new tools include university outcome rankings (LinkedIn’s answer to the Times university rankings), ‘University Finder’ (searching for institutions based on a career goal) and ‘Field of Study tool’ where students who have a preferred subject can see career outcomes from that academic discipline.  There’s also been a few tweaks to other areas, such as personalised invitations to connect from mobile platforms (at last!)

This raft of updates is great, but has got me thinking about the next tools/features I might like to see from a LinkedIn which is increasingly student-focused…

What I think could be really useful next developments

  • Ability for student users to find which profile holders would be willing to give advice, information or informal work experience : a ‘Happy to help’ feature or connection option.
  • A career e-learning module alongside things like the ‘decision board tool’ for those who feel they ‘just don’t know’ – and so can’t usefully engage by field of study, career goal or university decision: a ‘Figuring things out’ tool
  • The upgrade of student-friendly profile areas like ‘Volunteer experience’, ‘Courses’ and ‘Projects’ to sections with the same functionality as ‘Experience’ – recommendations, connection, rich media…
  • The removal of phrases like ‘Opportunities will find you’, replaced with something a little more pragmatic (this isn’t just British stoicism!), a snappier version of ‘Complete your profile. You’ll get emails when there are jobs that match Screen shot of part of LinkedIn Education: 'Step 2: Perfect your profile. Opportunities will find you. Complete profiles get 7x more views from classmates, alumni, and recruiters. Be sure to add your accomplishments and extracurriculars. Then get ready to be found!'you a bit, and if you’ve got some particularly sought-after skills, experiences or languages you might get a few recruiters approaching you directly.’ I know, I know… but realistic expectations is probably a good thing here.

And after that…?

If I could wave a magic wand, in the next few years I’d love to see some of these developments too:

  • LinkedIn supporting API developments which let universities use LI profiles for our monitored e-mentoring systems.
  • LinkedIn accounts which give students a series of free InMails for participating/completing career e-learning modules
  • The ability for students to store in LinkedIn their student ID number, and then a big new alumni data-export when we get our DLHE results, matching people up to see not just where they were on a single date in January, but where they went next.
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