scorecardLinkedIn CEO to new grads: 'It's not mandatory to know what you want right after graduation'
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LinkedIn CEO to new grads: 'It's not mandatory to know what you want right after graduation'

Ryan Roslansky   

LinkedIn CEO to new grads: 'It's not mandatory to know what you want right after graduation'
Tech3 min read
  • Ryan Roslansky is the CEO of LinkedIn.
  • He says the pandemic has accelerated rapid changes in the workplace, and people will need to keep learning to keep up.
  • Roslansky says graduates might be in a place to help others with their careers in the future and to keep building strong, diverse networks.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021! As you look back on your college years, I hope you take some time to appreciate all the hard work and support that led to this moment.

And as you look ahead to the coming years, the ones you will spend as a rising professional, I want to be among the first to not just welcome you to this new chapter, but to also share some advice based on lessons I've learned along the way.

The most important piece of advice is to never forget that you're navigating your career at a time that's being shaped by forces unlike anything we've seen before.

There have been fundamental changes to how we work, from the push to remote work to the calls for greater equity and sustainability in our places of work.

The good news for all of you starting your job search is that we're on the road to economic recovery from COVID-19.

Data from our 2021 Grads Guide to Getting Hired shows the hiring rate for fresh college grads returned to pre-COVID levels in October 2020, which suggests that all of you are heading into a healthier job market with more options for flexibility and remote work.

But this is just one moment. The changes underway in the workforce are going to be constant. That means you will need to keep learning to keep pace.

That idea can seem intimidating, even impossible.

It's neither.

Life-long learning can be as simple as listening to a podcast, reading an interesting article or book, keeping up with trends and thought leaders, or taking online courses.

That learning can also come from conversations with a network of diverse people, so you can learn and grow together.

We often think about networks as something you either have or don't have, but they can be built and grown at anytime.

Start with the community you already have of peers, teachers and mentors. Reach out to alumni or join interest-based groups. These small steps will broaden your network exponentially.

And it works. On LinkedIn, job seekers are 4X more likely to get hired when they leverage their networks.

That's the real formula for long-term success: growing your skills and your networks.

That may seem surprising because, for a long time, graduates like you were told to have it all figured out, down to the role and company you wanted to work at for decades to come.

But in an era of constant change, you don't need to have it all figured out at once, and I wish I had known that earlier in my career. Your job and what you want to do will likely change in five years, three years, or even next year.

You may have a career pivot (or a few), take time off, have setbacks, grow tired of some skills and discover you're passionate about new ones.

At the end of the day, what employers really want to know is whether you can do the job.

So focus less on what job you want in ten years, and more on how you're going to keep learning over the next ten years.

I'll leave you with a story that's been impactful in my own career.

When I was 10, I asked my dad about a Shakespeare quote that had been taped up next to his work phone for years: "When the sea was calm, all ships alike showed mastership in floating."

He told me that true character and success is defined not by how you act when everything is going your way, rather it's how you respond when everything isn't.

I've returned to this conversation often because the seas aren't always calm. You just need to look back at the past year to see how that has been true for us all.

Congratulations again on this important milestone in your career and in your life. Find what you love to do, and get better at it as you go along.

And remember to keep your head up when the seas aren't calm. Your professional life will be invigorating, exciting, and sometimes challenging - but it will also be life-changing, and maybe even world-changing.

Ryan Roslansky is the CEO of LinkedIn.