There are a lot of ways that you can apply for a job post-college, but LinkedIn definitely takes the cake. From connecting you with recruiters in your dream field to recommending opportunities that are right up your alley, its algorithm works for you. If you’re like me and you want the job search to be a time of excitement and cautious optimism instead of stress and anxiety, LinkedIn is a great place to start.
Essentially, the job-focused social media platform is like a working resume for all the projects you do in and outside of the classroom. It allows you to showcase who you are, and really hone in on what makes you stand out from the crowd. Simply put, LinkedIn is your career bestie — especially in college.
If you’re a college senior that’s out and about on the job search, there are a few fool-proof ways that you can optimize your LinkedIn profile for recruiters and hiring managers. But first, take a deep breath: A big part of looking for that next job, or first job is taking a pause to recognize where you actually are right now.
With all that covered, wrap yourself up in a blanket, position your computer in a spot that feels okay for you, play your favorite song, and open up LinkedIn. Get ready to put yourself out there!
- Pick a professional headshot.
I know you have that one professional photo of yourself that you love. Maybe it was taken at an event at school, and you haven’t found a place to use it for your profile photo. This is your chance!
- Have an attention-grabbing headline.
OK, as college students, we have a lot on our plates at all times. Here is where you can highlight the wonderful work you’re doing inside and outside the classroom. Along with your current job title — even if it’s “full-time student” — include some of your aspirations. This will let prospective employers know exactly who you are and what you hope to become!
- Make your bio feel like you.
There is room for creative liberty with this one. However you want to do it — whether it’s a few sentences, an emoji-filled description, or a couple of paragraphs — the most important thing about this chunk of text is that it conveys your personality in a professional, yet inviting, way.
- Don’t skip the experience section.
This is arguably the most important part of your profile. Go all out here and put your student leadership roles, internships, jobs, and project management positions on full display for the whole world to see. Just be sure to make them simple to digest and grammatically correct!
- Don’t be afraid to take a LinkedIn Learning course.
If your university offers free LinkedIn Learning courses, take them. This is a simple and easy way to add credentials to your profile for the things you’re interested in. Show the recruiters that you are taking initiative in the field you want to end up in!
- Get support from your network.
Even if you don’t think you have a group of people to lean on, you likely do. When you add skills to your profile and are looking for people to ask for recommendations from, look to your professors, classmates from group projects, or club members you’ve worked with.
- Add any links if you have them.
Say you have an article you wrote for a blog or a project you’re really proud of … show that! Add these to your featured links, publications, or project section: It’s a great way to keep track of your links and also share them with others who might want to know more about your background.
- Explore the depths of the job tab.
When you’re on LinkedIn that briefcase icon, aka the jobs tab, is your ride or die. This is where companies from Netflix to NBCU post their most recent internships and jobs. This section is updated regularly and directly can connect you with the people hiring for those roles. Basically, is where you will find the jobs you’ve been endlessly searching for on Google.
- Put yourself out there.
Once you set up your profile and add any other sections that resonate with you, you’re all ready to pitch yourself to prospective workplaces. This can be something sweet and to the point in a LinkedIn message asking for a 10 to 15-minute virtual coffee chat to get to know more about a company. You’d be surprised how well this works.
- Connect with the people doing what you want to do in the next few years.
So, you want to intern at a specific company? Reach out and connect with a current intern, or communications coordinator. Draft up an email on a Google doc and, once you’re confident, send it to the email and their profile. (Or, just DM them directly.)
- Take advantage of the opportunities that are on your feed.
A thing about LinkedIn is that it will show you virtual conferences, networking events, groups you can join, internships, job openings, and probably whatever else you could think of within that realm right on your home feed. When you see something, save it or click on it. You never know where that door will take you.
- Last but not least, follow forward!
If you see a creator around your age that inspires you with their content, give them a follow, or connect with them if you can. This is a great way to see how other people are utilizing the platform and making the most of it to build their Network and job prospects. Let them motivate you!