The last social network we will cover in this guide is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a career-oriented social media site, where you can connect with colleagues, work contacts, and potential employers and/or employees. When it comes to career success, networking is critical. With LinkedIn you can gather all of these connections in one place.
Sign up for a free account and you can opt to have LinkedIn import your e-mail or phone contact list and alert you to all the people you know who are already members. You can also search for individuals by name, company, alma mater, and a host of other ways. For each person you know, you are given the opportunity to send a LinkedIn request. When that person responds, presto, he or she is now what is known as a first-level connection.
It would not be unusual for you to wind up with a hundred or more first-level connections. Then comes LinkedIn’s multiplier effect: second and third level connections. These are people who are linked to your connections, or linked to people who are linked to people who are linked to your connections. In other words, these are people who know people you know, or people who know people who know people you know. You can also join special interest groups, such as Virtual Volunteering or Accessible Travel for Persons with Disabilities where you can learn, contribute to the discussion, and cultivate even more connections.
With LinkedIn, you can quickly create an informal network of many hundreds of connections in your industry, in your field of expertise, or at organizations where you may be a good fit for a great new employment opportunity.
Making the Most of LinkedIn
When you sign up for LinkedIn you are asked to create a profile. Spend a good deal of time writing and refining this profile, as it functions as your first impression on the site. Consider composing your profile in your word processing software, where you can check the grammar and correct spelling mistakes easily before you copy and paste the text into the profile data fields.
Include every job, skill, certification, and activity you can think of. You may have a very specific skill set that would make you eminently qualified for a job or volunteer opportunity, but if recruiters don’t know you’re out there, they can’t find you.
Even if you are already retired or happy with your current job, setting up a LinkedIn profile is advisable. Your expanding network of colleagues, potential advisors, and others who share your interests and passions will quickly prove invaluable.
The LinkedIn website is mostly accessible. Content is well formatted with headings and lists so you can use your screen reader’s quick navigation keys to find your way. Alt tags are used wherever possible, though many contributor pages may not always be accessibly marked up.
The company has announced they are working on site-specific shortcut keys such as those used by Facebook and Twitter, but they are not yet available.
LinkedIn offers mobile apps for bothiOS andAndroid devices. Using an app to create a LinkedIn account can be problematic from an accessibility standpoint, as there is currently an image-based CAPTCHA that must be completed in order to begin the account signup process. You will either need sighted help to sign up on your mobile device, or you can opt to sign up on the website.
Once logged in, both apps offer notifications, such as when someone wishes to link with you, that will appear in your device’s notifications area. You can also edit your profile, search for and add new connections, and even search and apply for jobs directly from your mobile device.
Getting Accessibility Help for LinkedIn
LinkedIn does not display any accessibility information on either the website or mobile apps. There is a dedicated e-mail address however. If you would like the company to reply to your accessibility questions via phone, be sure to include a number where you can be reached.