South Hills Interfaith Ministries holds LinkedIn workshop

Published May 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm (Updated May 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm)

Job searching and networking often go hand in hand. At an April 29 workshop held at the SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Ministries) center, job-seekers gathered to learn the basics of networking using the social media site LinkedIn.

Part of the WorkAble program, “LinkedIn for Beginners” was taught by volunteer and SHIM board member Rebecca Wanovich of Mt. Lebanon.

WorkAble provides free career consulting and employment coaching to unemployed job hunters in the Pittsburgh region. In addition to the site at the SHIM center, WorkAble also has locations at North Hills Community Outreach Centers and Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Squirrel Hill.

“I’m new at LinkedIn and want to learn more about it,” said Debbie Blair of West Newton who attended the workshop. Blair, a financial consultant, is looking for employment.

Wanovich described LinkedIn as being similar to “Facebook, but for the professional platform.” She said people use it to find former co-workers and classmates, prospective employers and new people that may help them in their job search.

“You can see how many people you went to college with who are living in Pittsburgh and working in your field,” Wanovich said.

LinkedIn has more than 225 million members in more than 200 countries, with about 1 million new members joining each week.

During the workshop, Wanovich talked about the basics of how to set up and edit a profile. She recommended that women use both their married name and maiden name on LinkedIn so people who may search by either name.

She advised to upload a profile photo, but to make sure it is a work-appropriate photo and not a photo that would be posted on a site like Facebook.

“Make sure it’s a professional image,” Wanovich said. She said the photo doesn’t have to be taken by a professional photographer, just to make sure to dress in work-appropriate attire. She said it is appropriate for nurses and doctors to dress in scrubs or lab coats in their photos.

Uploading work experience and educational experience is also a good idea, Wanovich said. Adding what college one attended is one way people can connect with each other and the same goes for adding the companies where one has been employed.

Wanovich recommends adding a “short and sweet” summary of one’s skills.

“Keep it pretty slim and relevant,” she said.

Adding volunteer experience is also a good idea, Wanovich said, as employers look at things done outside of work.

People can start to connect on LinkedIn by searching for companies, organizations or individuals that may help them in their job search.

For instance, if someone is looking for a job at a certain company, one way to network is to look for people who graduated with you that may now work for that company. Then, send that person a request to connect or a message. Wanovich said most people who use LinkedIn are on there to help, so often you will get a response.

Following different organizations and businesses on LinkedIn is also a way of networking on the site. Wanovich follows her college and also other businesses and organizations she has worked with in the past or is working with now. Connecting email contacts with the site is also a way of getting more connections on LinkedIn.

The biggest thing to familiarizing oneself with LinkedIn is to “just play around with it,” Wanovich said.

SHIM will be offering more WorkAble workshops in the near future, including one on how to write a resume and cover letter on May 13, networking skills on May 20 and interviewing skills on May 27. All of the workshops start at 10 a.m. and are held at the SHIM Center on Park Avenue in Bethel Park. For details, call Julie Davidson Martinez at 412-854-9120 ext 26 or visit www.shim-center.org.

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