Your Guide to Connecting with Alumni on Linkedin

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

Scoping out potential contacts on LinkedIn can feel like a never-ending quest—the options are literally endless. There is, however, an art to finding that perfect connection on LinkedIn and sparking a conversation. Check out our guide to connecting with alumni on LinkedIn.

The Search

Crafting a LinkedIn search requires a few critical filters. Start off by typing in ‘DePaul University’ in the search bar. Once you’ve clicked on DePaul’s official page, click on the ‘see alumni’ button and you will be presented with a detailed breakdown of alumni interests, places of employment and fields of study.

Now it’s time to narrow your search. DePaul University’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Associate Director Leslie Chamberlain has a few pointers for students:

“Decide why you’re looking to connect with alumni. If you’re looking to explore a specific field or if there’s a city you’d like to be in, this is going to influence the keywords in your search for connections.”

Once you’ve used a couple of keywords and identified a potential connection, it’s time to actually hit the ‘connect’ button and send a message.

The Ask

This initial message is key to ensuring you get a response. Leslie advises that your message follows this classic, business outline: Them. You. Time-Bound.

Let’s break that down.

Them: Your first line should be a sentence about them, recognizing a particular involvement or position that caught your interest. For example, you could say, “your work as a social media analyst with the American Red Cross looks exciting.”

You: Your next two sentences should introduce you and provide some background. Think of it as a shortened elevator pitch. For example, you might say, “as a current public relations student at DePaul, I’m interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I’ve had the opportunity to take courses where I’ve constructed social media campaigns for companies and I’m looking to expand my knowledge in this sphere.”

Time-Bound: Finally, your last sentence should be time-bound to solidify a time to talk. “Fifteen to twenty minutes is the perfect amount of time to ask for. It’s enough time to get a feel for the person. If you vibe with the connection really well you can always ask for a follow-up meeting and if you don’t then you’re not trapped in a long conversation,” Leslie explained.  For example, you could say, “I would love to chat with you about your experiences as an analyst. Would you be available to talk over the phone for 15-20 minutes sometime in the next two weeks?”

The Follow-Up

Once you’ve sent the message and had the opportunity to talk over the phone, follow up with a simple thank you message.

This thank you should follow the Past. Present. Future. outline. First, acknowledge your previous interaction with a simple line, such as, “thank you for taking time out of your day to discuss your career.”

Next, bring up an insight they mentioned that you’re going to take action on. For example, “I picked up a copy of the branding book you mentioned and I’m looking forward to reading it.”

Finally, if you’ve really hit it off, the future portion of this thank you should be focused on a second meeting. For example, you might ask, “could I reach out to you next month? I’d like to talk to you about this book once I’ve finished it.” If you didn’t quite hit it off, a simple, “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors,” will work.

Easy as that! Connecting with alumni is a great way to learn more about your industry and develop a mentorship with someone who shares common interests. Curious about other ways that alumni can help you? Check out the Alumni Sharing Knowledge network for more information on connecting with alumni.

How to Successfully Network Online & Make Connections that Will Last

Professionals often talk about the importance of networking, but the act of networking itself can be daunting. Living in a now digital-reliant world, many feel more comfortable engaging with a potential networking contact electronically, whether through formal social channels like LinkedIn or by simply emailing a lead. Networking over the digital sphere, however, means your writing skills will be put to the test; it’s important that you bring intriguing, professional language to the table.

Below are a few different scenarios you may encounter when networking online with professionals in your field, and some best practices to ensure you are making the best impression when doing so.

DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network

Our Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network is where over 1,000 DePaul alumni volunteer to be networking resources and assist DePaul students and fellow alumni in exploring college and professional transitions, interviewing best practices, life challenges and career options. Although these contacts have volunteered, you want to be respectful of their time by crafting a well-written introduction that includes the following:

  1. Who you are: Include your full name and major/career interests or passions
  2. Why you wish to connect: Do you want to learn more about his/her role, company, career path, etc.?
  3. What stood out from his/her profile: Personalize your request by noting one or two things that really piqued your interest in the volunteer’s profile

Your message doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it should include each of the above components. Afterwards, request 15-20 minutes of their time to either speak with them in person or over the phone; this way, you have set the expectation that you don’t intend to take too much of their time, which may encourage a quicker response. It can be much harder for a contact to set aside 30-60 minutes without advance notice.

The thing to remember about the ASK network is that these alumni have all volunteered, so you never have to feel intimidated or uncomfortable reaching out to them.

LinkedIn

The most popular channel that students lean on to seek potential networking contacts is LinkedIn. The good news is that it’s very easy to make new connections on LinkedIn; simply click “Connect,” and a potential new contact awaits. However, if you don’t take the time to personalize your connection request, you’re less likely to be accepted into someone’s network.

The best thing to do is review a potential contact’s LinkedIn profile before you send him/her a request, and try to identify one or two things you have in common. Maybe you share the same major, or perhaps you were both involved in the same student organization; mention this in your invitation request. If you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know personally, he/she is much more likely to respond if you identify some kind of shared experience or, at the very least, a reason why you want to connect with that person. What not to do? Send a blank invitation. Anyone can do that, but most professionals don’t want to accept just anyone into their network.

Once you’ve established a connection with this person, consider sending a lengthier introduction inquiring about his/her professional background. From there, simply follow the steps outlined above—the same rules that apply to the ASK network also apply here.

Email Referrals

There may come a time when a friend, professor or advisor will refer you to a contact at a company you’re really passionate about. These interactions may feel a little more intimidating, but many of the same rules apply:

  • When reaching out via email, be sure to introduce yourself and clarify your reason for writing.
  • You may want to look them up on LinkedIn to see if there are any commonalities you can refer to, or research the company website in case they’ve included a bio.
  • Most importantly, you want to be extra careful that you communicate with referrals professionally, and that you take the time to follow-up with them if they agree to do so.

In these instances, it’s not just your reputation on the line but that of the friend, professor or advisor referring you, so it’s especially important that you be mindful of any and all communication you have with these contacts.

Steps to Take Right Now

It’s always beneficial to begin seeking networking contacts through ASK, since these are people you have something in common with already (specifically your DePaul experience), and they have already volunteered to assist you! You can also meet with your designated career advisor to identify potential leads through ASK, LinkedIn and other industry-specific channels. Finally, we’re always happy to review any email communication in advance; simply email your advisor with the text you want to send to a potential contact, and we’ll help you to put your best (e)foot forward.

How to Stay Sane During the Summer Job Search

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

Summertime is arguably the best time of the year—longer days, plenty of free time, exciting opportunities for growth; the list of ways to fill your summer is endless. One item that never seems to escape our summer to-do lists, however, is landing that perfect job. Let’s face it, with the stress, spreadsheets and never-ending interviews, sometimes the summer job search can feel like a full-time job itself. But who says the job search can’t be fun? Check out these four tips that’ll help keep you sane during your summer job search.

Network, network, network

Check out Meetup to find fun networking events near you, specific to your industry and interests. No matter where you’re spending the summer, it’s important to dedicate some of your time to meeting people and making quality connections—remember, people hire people!

Informational interviews

Informational interviews are an exceptional way to get your foot in the door with a company you want to work for. Check out DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge network to learn more about connecting with alumni, or ASK mentors, that share similar career aspirations or have connections to companies you’re looking to seek employment with. ASK mentors can provide informational interviews, which can give you a better sense of the work they do and the company or field they work in. If you aren’t finding a connection through ASK, head on over to LinkedIn and search through DePaul alumni in your intended field.

Leverage the Career Center

Whether you’re at DePaul for another year (or two…or three) or a recent grad, the Career Center can be a key player in helping you during your summer job or internship search. Come in and chat with a peer career advisor to get your resume reviewed or schedule a meeting with your career advisor to talk strategies for the job search. Recent graduates, don’t forget, you have access to Career Center resources for one year after graduation. The Career Center is open throughout the summer from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is bustling with people excited to help you land that dream job!

Make this summer the summer that you land that job you’ve been dreaming of. Don’t forget, you’ve got a network of Blue Demons excited to support you in your journey beyond DePaul.

Connect with professors

It sounds simple enough, but we often forget that professors, especially at DePaul, aren’t solely educators—they are skilled professionals who spent years establishing themselves in their respective industries. Your favorite professor has a wide breadth of knowledge on your field and a network of professionals they are more than willing to connect you with. Summer is a great time to reconnect and touch base with professors who have made an impact on you in your collegiate career. Use this time to not only solidify these connections, but to also catch up with them and see if they have any colleagues that would be willing to help you with the job hunt.

Tips for Identifying Fraudulent Employers & Job Listings

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

For many of us, our number one goal right now is to do everything in our power to secure that coveted full-time employment title with a company whose mission and promised salary aligns with our own values and goals. There are resources left and right that are here to get us there—Handshake is one of them. However, despite the fact that employers are vetted before allowed access to Handshake, sometimes a few bad apples slip through the cracks.

A “fraudulent employer” could be a made-up company, or, it could be a scammer or impersonator pretending to be affiliated with a legitimate organization. We need to protect ourselves from such scams by watching for suspicious requests and actions. Here are a few warning signs to look out for when applying for jobs or communicating with employers on any online job search site, including LinkedIn, Career Builder, and Handshake, to name a few.

They ask for your money

If an employer is requesting your bank account information, credit card numbers, etc. this is a great sign to run the other way. Legitimate employers will not ask for this type of information online or even over the phone. Many times these employers will justify this ask by saying they need this information in order to cover a startup cost or initial fee associated with your application or employment; real companies will not ask you to pay for your job. Now, let’s say you missed this warning sign. If you have given a scammer your credit card information, contact your bank immediately, close the account, and dispute the charges.

Company contact information isn’t legitimate

Rutgers University found that fraudulent employers usually possess non-business email domains or utilize personal email addresses in place of company email addresses. This is a red flag. Keep in mind that getting in touch with a company should not be a challenge. If their website link doesn’t work or only provides rudimentary information with little to no depth on the company’s mission, available jobs, or location, etc. you should proceed with caution and verify their business status through more research. Check out the Better Business Bureau, Glassdoor.com, AT&T’s Anywho and the Chamber of Commerce to verify employer legitimacy.

There is a clear lack of professionalism

The telltale sign of a fraudulent employer is a job posting riddled with misspellings and grammatical faux pas. Ask yourself, if the employer can’t get a simple job posting right, what else are they doing wrong?

The position sounds too good to be true

The University of Michigan points out in their guide against fraud that these employers often try to entice you with the promise of a position that allows you to work from home, has only minimal responsibility, requires vague skills and offers a hearty salary. It’s important to recognize that legitimate employers will be up front in providing a detailed job description of the job responsibilities and duties to see if you are right for the job.

You’re immediately hired

Let’s get real—no application process is so seamless that you are immediately hired without an interview. Actual employers take their time reviewing resumes and cover letters; therefore, if you receive an immediate response from someone after you send in your application, proceed with caution. In their fraudulent employer guide, the University of Iowa points out that oftentimes, fraudulent employers use this technique to pique your interest and gather as much personal information from you as possible in a short window of time.

Your research efforts indicate fraud is a possibility

The power of Google should never be underestimated. Put on your detective hat and start searching the company name along with key phrases such as, “fraudulent job postings” or “scam.” If the search results show a slew of online articles detailing a hoax, there’s a good chance this so-called job is the work of a scammer.

If you encounter any suspicious activity—on Handshake or otherwise—please be sure to notify Kate Dalin, the Career Center’s associate director of employer engagement and on-campus recruiting. With a watchful eye, you can aid in the Career Center’s efforts to create a safe and rewarding environment for job seekers. If you or your friends do become victims of fraudulent employers, contact DePaul’s Student Legal Services for further guidance and support. Please also consider reviewing the Federal Trade Commission’s resource for navigating and reporting job scams, and filing a complaint report with their agency.

In Between Netflix Binges: Making the Most of Winter Break

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

Among the many perks of DePaul’s quarter system is the six-week winter break; an opportune time to fast track career success by revamping your personal brand and tying up career-related loose ends you’ve put off all quarter. With that said, we’ve compiled a list of four simple things you can do this break—in between rounds of Netflix and holiday get-togethers—to maximize your free time.

Polish your LinkedIn profile

Being a LinkedIn superstar is a title not many can claim. There’s always something to be added, edited or endorsed. As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to LinkedIn, if you initiate, others will reciprocate. For example, if you go through your connection list and begin endorsing your peers for the skills you know they possess, they are likely to respond by endorsing you in return. The same goes for recommendations; if you’re not already connected with previous and current employers and coworkers, connect with them and write a recommendation on their behalf based on the work experiences you’ve shared. Get into the holiday spirit by giving as much warranted praise as you can on LinkedIn, there’s no doubt it’ll come back to you.

Visit the Career Center

Just because school is out for winter break doesn’t mean that the Career Center is; in fact, the Career Center operates from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, throughout break. In one simple visit you can chat with peer career advisors (PCAPS) to get your resume looked at or you can meet with your advisor to discuss upcoming job opportunities and go over job and internship search strategies. Won’t be in the city over break? No problem, PCAPS are available for online resume reviews. Plus, the Career Center website offers a unique online chat forum to connect with PCAPS.

Please note: The Career Center will be closed during the holidays, from December 23rd to January 1st. Regular office hours will resume Monday, January 2nd.

Build a digital portfolio

Admit it, free time during break usually means extra screen time. Well, what better way to maximize your favorite online platforms than by developing a digital portfolio? You get that screen time you desire, all while doing something majorly productive—win-win, right? If you’re willing to invest a bit of time upfront to build your digital portfolio, you’ll see long-term payoff. Register for a personal site with WordPress or Wix, for example, and start organizing a comprehensive list of your work for potential employers. Check out Career Advisor Michael Elias’ beginners guide to crafting digital portfolios for more tips.

Take personality assessments

Looking for a productive alternative to BuzzFeed quizzes this break? Take a crack at common personality assessments that are actually used in the workplace. One of the more well known assessments utilized by human resources gurus is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). A condensed version of the assessment can be found at 16Personalities. Other popular alternatives include Gallup’s StrengthsQuest and Marston’s DISC Assessment. Spend some time this break identifying your key strengths and personality traits. Remember, the more you understand yourself, the easier it is to convey to potential employers what you bring to the table.

Regardless of what you’re up to this break, be sure to squeeze in time for career development! Stop by the Career Center for more tips and tricks on curating the most productive break possible.

 

What Employers Want to See on Your LinkedIn Profile

At this point, you’ve probably heard from friends, professors, and supervisors how important it is to have a presence on LinkedIn. Employers from all industries are now turning to LinkedIn to communicate their brand, post jobs, and, most importantly, find talent. Even if you’re not actively searching for a job or internship, having a LinkedIn profile gives you an advantage over people who don’t; employers will continue to connect with you to network, or share new opportunities you may not have been aware of, simply by being an active member of the LinkedIn community.

Understandably, creating a LinkedIn profile can be daunting if you’re just starting out. The good news is that LinkedIn makes it easy to create a profile from scratch, and their handy Profile Checklist is a solid starting point. Read below for additional tips that employers have shared with us in the Career Center on creating a strong profile.

Headline

One of the first things visitors to your profile will see is a headline, which is placed directly below your name. This headline is intended to be a few words that quickly establish your brand. If you’re a current student, it can highlight your academic status; e.g. “Accounting Major at DePaul University.” If you have a firm grasp on the type of job you want after graduation, feel free to lead with that; e.g. “Aspiring Public Relations Specialist.” For anyone currently employed in an internship or job, you can list your current position title; e.g. “Graphic Design Intern at [company name].” Regardless of your experience level, you can use the headline to quickly identify yourself to new professionals who visit your page.

Summary

The headline will only provide a quick snapshot of your professional identity, so it’s important that you take advantage of the Summary section to provide a lengthier introduction to your profile. One of the greatest benefits of a LinkedIn profile is that you can highlight as much information as you want; in other words, anything you can’t fit onto a one-page resume such as relevant courses, volunteer work, awards/recognition, etc. The summary, then, is a way for you to bring it all together.

Consider this: Introduce yourself first by talking about major/minor information, followed by some of your experiences, and concluding with the types of opportunities you’re seeking in the short-term, such as an internship or a full-time job. If you decide to pack a lot of information into your LinkedIn profile, employers will appreciate that you’ve created a summary that provides insight into the types of experiences they will find.

When browsing LinkedIn, you may notice that everyone’s summaries vary in length; some people may only use one sentence, others may have three paragraphs. A happy middle ground is ideal. The example summary included in the Profile Checklist is a good template to follow.

Skills & Expertise

This category allows you to list a variety of different keywords that describe your professional experiences and identity. LinkedIn has a pretty deep vocabulary to choose from, so if you were to type in “marketing,” you will also see more specific examples you can add to your profile such as “social media marketing,” “product marketing,” “marketing strategy,” etc. Identify keywords that are most relevant to your background and start building out this section of your profile.

The other benefit of building out this section is that anyone you’re connected with can endorse you for those skills. An endorsement from a contact is like a mini-reference; if you receive an endorsement for the skill “social media marketing,” for example, it means the contact is vouching for your expertise in that particular area. These endorsements can be a powerful way to visually represent your skills and expertise, as seen here, and to prove that not only are you saying you have these skills, but that your contacts can verify that they’ve witnessed these skills in action.

Professional Photo

Even if you are brand new to LinkedIn, it is important that you include a photo of yourself. Recent employer feedback suggests that people who don’t have a LinkedIn photo give the impression that they don’t know how to use LinkedIn. So, adding a picture right off the bat is recommended. While a professional headshot would be ideal, this isn’t always feasible to achieve quickly or cheaply. These 5 tips provide additional considerations for taking a profile picture that’s professional, whether you go the selfie route or ask a friend to snap one for you.

Next Steps

The Career Center offers two workshops dedicated to making the most of your LinkedIn presence: “LinkedIn Basics for Job Searching” and “Leveraging LinkedIn: Using Your Profile to Create Results.” You can search for workshops on DePaul Handshake through the “Events” tab.

Alternatively, you can meet with your career advisor to learn how to customize a profile for your industry of interest. With more and more employers turning to LinkedIn as a hiring tool, we can share tips to help you stand out from the crowd.