Curating Your Way to a Great Job and Career via Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
This spring 2016, The Chronicle of Higher Education included an article on “The New Transcript: More information and a digital format can empower the ‘quantified student’” (B39-40, March 4, 2016). In this article, colleges and universities were described as struggling to figure out how to present graduates’ full set of accomplishments on their school transcripts.
Article takeaways included: “Colleges are reconsidering what transcripts should include and what they should look like so as to provide a richer sense of what students have learned . . . by listing extracurricular activities . . . [but] some professors worry that [this is ] piling up points” when student focus should be “on deeper learning” (B40).
The schools are definitely on the right track by focusing on a student’s whole learning from their college experience. There needs to be much more attention to the fact that learning is never wholly compartmentalized into that which is purely intellectual, that which is organizational, or that which is personal. Human life is much more complex and integrated with its diverse sides overlapping and intersecting in many different ways.
Successful College Students Succeed in their Academics, Personal Lives, and Organizational Involvement.
Successful college students understand that their lives involve learning, living, and doing. This means a commitment to a life that is well-lived with intention, focus, and effort.
The success of any college student means doing well in his or her classes, having worked hard in those classes, having developed strong time management skills and a strong work ethic, and meriting strong grades in many classes.
The success of any college student means doing well in her or his organizational involvement, having been active in service, athletic, and professional organizations, having volunteered an developed a habit of civic-mindedness, and having developed strong leadership and teamwork skills.
The success of any college student means doing well in life choices regarding happiness, fitness, interpersonal relationships, wellness, balance, moderation, and resilience.
Traditionally, college transcripts provided documentation of a student’s academic achievements: G.P.A., majors and minors, additional academic certifications, and graduation completion. Now schools are considering adding documentation of a students’ extracurricular activities. Will this include just campus sponsored activities, or would it also include off-campus activities such as a student’s jobs, volunteerism, and other non-accredited skill development and other learning?
The larger question is why would this even matter? After all, who really looks at the entirety of a transcript anyway? Transcripts are mainly important as PROOF of graduation and the requisite G.P.A. for certain jobs. Beyond this, transcripts are just a growing list of information that few, if any, employers having any interest in looking at.
Curating Student Accomplishments: LinkedIn, Resumes, and Individual Webpages
This past winter, there was a summit in Washington focused on this issue: “Innovating Student Credentials.” The key point noted at that session was that student credentials are increasingly digital and granular. Let me point to several specific areas that I teach in my Professional and Business Writing classes:
- Students need to present themselves holistically on their resumes and to employers, so that the range of their soft and hard skill sets are evident.
- Key accomplishments consist of the stellar ones (e.g., Eagle Scout rank, Dean’s List, Board memberships, plum Internships) as well as “rank and file” accomplishments (e.g., committee membership, service activity involvement, consistent employment, specific skills, and life lessons learned).
- How and where a student is present in the open-access universe is far more important than the more traditional documents of school transcripts, print resumes, or cover letter narratives. There are cases where these are still important, but a student’s digital presence is far more important across the board.
- Finally, each student needs to do their own curation of accomplishments and credentials, selecting what to present, how to group and organize those items, and how to articulate and present them in the most accurate and effective ways.
LinkedIn provides an omnipresent landing point and networking venue relevant for just about every student regardless of major or career trajectory. LinkedIn’s framework helps students to see the diversity of their accomplishments through the various LinkedIn profile categories.
So while schools and colleges try to figure out how to present their students’ accomplishments [why not simply with digital portals similar to faculty portfolio sites?], in the meantime, students need to focus on their own public presences—via LinkedIn, other social media sites, individual webpages, and digital resumes.
For more information on students’ pre-professional presence in the digital universe, see Chapters 5 & 6 in my new book: 10 Strategies for Your Success in College:
Ch. 5 Social Media: Use and Review
Ch. 6 LinkedIn& Your Pre-Professional Presence
These two chapters provide step-by-step guidance for students as they 1) review their social media presence and make considered and strategic choices regarding their public face to the world, and as they 2) develop their pre-professional presence through LinkedIn and other digital sites.
So, yes, students’ learning, other accomplishments, and overall credentialing need to be curated well: determined, selected, organized, and presented. And it is the students themselves who need to be integrally involved in this process. If schools want to add digital tools to assist the students in this process, that would be wonderful, but it certainly needs to be a collaborative process.
So, let’s all encourage and support students as they become their own pre-professional curators of their accomplishments, learning, and credentials.