LinkedIn as an assessment task for employability and career exploration in the life sciences curriculum


Although LinkedIn is widely recognised as having great value as a tool for career development, higher education students do not to use it as effectively as they could, if they use it at all. Students typically see LinkedIn as an online resume and job search tool. They tend not to use LinkedIn for career exploration or to proactively build quality networks for professional learning and career development. The connectedness learning model of graduate employability (Bridgstock, 2017) proposes that making and culitvating professional contacts, expressing a connected identity, and possessing social network literacy are key connectedness capabilities needed for employability in the 21st century world of work. LinkedIn is a key platform on which these capabilities are developed and used, but only if the user is engaged and skillful in their use of it. This paper provides a case study of a reflective employability report and goal setting assignment, based on LinkedIn, incorporated into a core third-year unit of a health sciences degree at an Australian university. Student feedback about the module and qualitative thematic analysis of the students’ reports demonstrated that although students understood the value of LinkedIn as a career development tool, they exhibited low levels of connectedness capabilities and a naive understanding of employability. We will describe the LinkedIn-based employability module and assignment, outline the findings from our analysis of student feedback and assignment texts, and apply these findings to practical recommendations for those who intend to develop similar curricular employability programs. We will also argue that students’ lack of engagement with LinkedIn specifically and connectedness learning generally could be a symptom of approaches to graduate employability that focus too much on human capital, traditionally in the form of employability skills, to the exlusion of important dispositional, contextual, and scoial factors.

Nov 28, 2018 12:00 AM — Feb 16, 2020 8:33 PM
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD
Michael Healy
Careers and employability learning expert

I am Head of Careers and Employability at Career Ahead and doctoral student at the University of Southern Queensland. I am passionate about promoting transformational careers and employability learning, particularly using social, narrative, and dialogical methods.