LinkedIn Founder’s Advice to New Graduates

Ben Casnocha, Reid Hoffman’s co-writer for their recent book The Start-Up of You, posted an excellent Slideshare presentation that gives some direct and honest advice to new graduates about how to approach your career in today’s rapidly evolving job market.

In the presentation Hoffman, acknowledges that college is supposed to prepare graduates for the workforce, but the traditional work world is changing faster than ever and graduates are finding themselves ill-prepared. Hoffman outlines three critical areas that all new graduates need to carefully consider as they choose their career path.

1) Competition

Successful job seekers need to understand their competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace and how to leverage it to land a position over other equally qualified candidates.

Your competitive advantage consists of three primary components:


  • Assets – What you have going for you now;
  • Aspirations – Where you might like to go in the future; and
  • Market Realities – What people will actually pay you for.


Figure out a way to use your competitive advantage to fulfill an organization’s needs and help them solve specific problems. As long as you can continually make your assets valuable, you will always be in demand.

2) Networks

Once you leave the friends confines of your college campus, you have to be much more proactive about building your network. A job search becomes much easier when you have a network of people who can provide you with resources, information, and most importantly, opportunities.

Your job search is really all about making connections to find opportunities that utilize your competitive advantage. Hoffman suggests that “the fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way that you want to be.” Leveraging your existing network is actually the best way to meet new people, which is what makes social media platforms like LinkedIn such a valuable tool.

3) Risk

Sometimes you need to go outside of your comfort zone to find the right path for you. Making mistakes along the way is part of the deal as the only real way to learn is by doing.

Take intelligent risks that expose you to new opportunities and help you discover where you need to be. Obviously, there are risks you shouldn’t take if the worst case scenario is something that could tarnish your reputation or injure you physically or financially.

Hoffman states that “playing it safe” may actually be the riskiest thing you can do as you eliminate the potential to uncover new opportunities and passions that can dramatically impact your career trajection.

Beware of all the career advice to new graduates

Advice for new graduates can be found everywhere this time of year, but Hoffman and Casnocha present a compelling case in The Start-Up of You for how first-time job seekers need to think about their lives and their careers. Take their advice and adapt a start-up approach to building a life: start with an idea, and work over your entire career to adapt it into something remarkable.

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