As part of my Professional and Technical Communication course at Rose-Hulman, I ask students to revise their current resume and job application letter to target a particular job and company. For many students, the notion of customizing the standard one-page resume, letting it reflect the company culture and its values (information available on the company website and embedded in the job ad itself), is a new practice. Before the invention of desktop printing, I argue, we were reduced to printing multiple copies of the same resume (on bond paper, I recall), then distributing the generic resume. If I want to show that I have familiarized myself with the company and its interests, I will present a customized resume to a potential employer. Yes, it takes more consideration on the candidate’s part, but the outcome should be worth the effort.
I also require students to set up a LinkedIn account and ask them to connect to me. Why would you want to connect with your Tech Comm prof? Simple: if the job ad specifies “good communication skills,” then who better to verify the excellence of those skills than me? LinkedIn offers another benefit too, the probability that someone looking for a particular skill set will find you on the site. I like to tell an alumni story to back this up. Dana, a recent Rose grad, wasn’t looking for a job and was very happy with her position with a major chemical company. A company looking for her particular skill set located her on LinkedIn and invited her to apply. She did, she loved the new company, and she packed her bags for South Carolina.
So why should students create LinkedIn accounts? For the same reason that they customize a resume: to promote their brand, to network with potential employers, to demonstrate that they look upon the process of getting a job as a job in itself. For me, it’s another great way to connect with alumni and endorse their superior communication skills!