Since it launched in 2003, LinkedIn has become the go-to career networking site for many collegiettes. The purpose of the site is to allow members to foster professional relationships and pursue career opportunities. However, it can be difficult to figure out how to actually use your profile to get employed. Check out these tips for creating your best LinkedIn profile possible and using it to land the job that’s right for you.
1. Make your profile thorough
You should make sure to complete every section of your profile with as much detail as possible. Your LinkedIn should act as a comprehensive bio of all the information relevant to your professional life; it’s pretty much a resume.
“LinkedIn gives you a whole host of options in terms of providing details about your experiences, even if you are still in college,” says Neal Schaffer, social media strategist and author of Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn. “This ranges from the Education and Professional Experience (if you have any) section to things like Projects, Test Scores, Courses, Certifications, and Volunteering & Causes. The more details you add to your profile that are aligned with your personal brand and the career you are looking for, the better and more complete picture hiring managers will have of you.”
An incredibly important aspect of your LinkedIn profile is the experience section. You should use this section to showcase any and all practice you’ve had in your field of interest. One of the main things that employers look for when considering you for a job is the previous experience you’ve had at similar jobs.
As Schaffer says, you should also include any volunteer work you’ve done. Whether it was done with your sorority, during an alternative spring break trip or as an individual effort, volunteering experience is very valuable to many employers and will make you stand out. LinkedIn offers a Volunteering & Causes section where you can list the organizations you’ve worked for, your role in these organizations and descriptions of your work.
Finally, make sure to include a professional picture on your profile. Seeing you will make employers feel like they have a more personal connection with you. This picture should be a current headshot (only your head, neck and maybe a little of your shoulders should be showing) that clearly shows what you look like (no flashy accessories). Don’t forget to smile!
And of course, make sure to proofread your profile!
“I've looked at other people's profiles to see how I can improve my own and found a few profiles with spelling and grammatical errors on their profiles,” says Roxanna Coldiron, a senior at Hiram College. “If LinkedIn is going to be your online business card, make it count.”
2. Network properly
When you create your LinkedIn profile, you should first connect with all of your friends and family members who also have profiles. You never know who these personal connections might be able to introduce you to. You can then move on to people you know on a professional level. This includes former coworkers and classmates, past employers and professors. This will expand your network to people in your field of interest who may be able to introduce you to new opportunities. Remember to send a short, professional, personalized message when you request to connect with these people in order to be polite or in case they don’t remember who you are. Here’s an example of a possible message:
“Hi…, I met you at…” or “I was introduced to you by…I would like to add you to my professional network. Thanks in advance.”
However, connecting with people you hardly know, have only met once or twice, or have never met is a different matter.