The largest growth segment for LinkedIn is student profiles. It seems that the message has got through that a professional profile is becoming increasingly important in the job search. This is good news for students, but it is also great news for the channel. If all students were to create their first profile as they arrive at University (or leave school) and build it through their academic career, updating skills as they are acquired and through study, internship and work experience. It is the stated vision of the channel that every professional will have a LinkedIn profile. In the UK it is estimated that 4 in 5 professionals have a profile. The route to achieving 100% adoption is through the student population.

If LinkedIn can get people to document all of their career through their profile from when they first start out, think how powerful the data pool is within a short space of time, and the signs are that student sign ups are making this a reality. The guys at LinkedIn have been spending a lot of time figuring out how they can add real value to the student population, not just for profiles, but in supporting them in their careers and career choices, even before they choose to enroll in any course of study.

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to get an insight in to what this might look like before the end of the year. The starting point will be the launch of alumni pages that group together profiles according to academic backgrounds. What I have seen is that the one piece of information people are always willing to make public is their academic history. I’m really excited about the potential this type of alumni groupings offer to students. When you think beyond profiles, LinkedIn is a giant pool of professional data. Like any data, the challenge is working out how to interrogate the data to be of some use to you. These are my ideas of some of the ways that students could benefit from the new pages:

  • Identify which course of study and university offers the best potential for a chosen career path.
  • Connect with other alumni in organisations that they want to work for and intern with.
  • Identify what organisations hire from the alumni.
  • Identify a specific course of study for future career options and employers.
  • Have a location to find connections for advice, where their is a reason to connect.
  • To provide an on-line destination where employers can promote opportunities to potential hires or interns.
  • Creating groups for employers to share specific content.
  • Enabling employers to identify and follow students from specific universities or courses for longer term engagement from the start of their academic career.

I’m sure that over time users will find more ways to generate value from alumni groups. For the academic institutions, they are also going to have the opportunity to engage with students and employers, in the same way that companies can now engage through updates and announcements on company pages. Students in high school will be able to get a good insight in to alumni groups and make comparisons to make the right choices. Any destination that connects schools with business for meaningful dialogue between the academic and business community also has to be a good thing.

I will be watching this development with interest to see how the alumni pages take off during the last quarter of the year. I think that these pages really will create the pipeline between students creating profiles ensuring the continued growth of the channel.

What do you think?

Bill