Can Xing and LinkedIn boost your career?
The answer is: yes! Over 50% of jobs are now awarded via a person’s network rather than through the traditional application process. As the focus is increasingly placed on “active sourcing” of suitable candidates by companies and personnel managers, there is an urgent need for strong networks and good networkers!
But, first things first: what are Xing and LinkedIn in the first place? How do you use these professional networks and what is their purpose? In the events we hold on campus with our new students, we always ask them who is active on Facebook. Usually, most of them are, but if we ask about Xing or LinkedIn, we’re often met with blank faces.
Xing and LinkedIn: Facebook for careers
Both platforms are used for professional networking – just as Facebook is used in our private lives. The main difference between them is the target audience: Xing has more of a national focus, i.e. it is used in German-speaking countries, whereas LinkedIn is international. However, regardless of the geographic orientation, the key thing is that you have an up-to-date and well-populated profile, as well as a professional photo. The skills and knowledge should be tidy and up-to-date, as companies use these terms as keywords when searching for potential candidates. In addition, the platforms contain a sort of CV – that is, when you did what and where, as well as your university, your current side job, your work experience, etc. You should always include a current email address and check the account regularly to ensure the recruiters can reach you.
You can lose a business card – but not a LinkedIn or Xing contact
Of course, in the true spirit of networking, Xing and LinkedIn are about more than just making yourself visible to recruiters. They are also a good way to connect with people you met at, for example, a guest lecture, a networking event or a trade fair. After all, you may lose the business cards you swapped, but online contacts will last – and they can be worth their weight in gold if you ever need them. It’s very important not simply to send contact requests but always to add a short, professional and – above all – relevant message, such as: “We met yesterday at your guest lecture at IUBH and spoke briefly afterwards. It’d be great to connect here. Thanks and best wishes …”.
Those who network are always up-to-date
Last but not least, we have another important tip: anyone who acts as a networker – i.e. by connecting and supporting third parties – will see the favour returned one day! It won’t necessarily happen straight away, but active networking pays dividends. It means you’re up-to-date on who is currently working where and in what position, and you can follow people’s career pathways. You can also find out about vacancies, as Xing and LinkedIn have now incorporated job platforms. So, it makes sense to invest a bit of time! You can use the basic versions of both portals for free. Of course, there advantages to being a paying user – you can check who has viewed your profile, for example – but many features, such as the “birthday reminder”, are free and totally sufficient for students’ needs.
And yes, of course, you can also use these networks to connect with professors, fellow students and the Career Office, for example. Our contacts list usually includes a whole host of interesting alumni and personnel managers. With that in mind, I look forward to receiving your contact requests!