Being a millennial, connecting with our friends and family on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram comes as second nature. When it comes to a more professional network like LinkedIn, creating a stellar profile for the working world is a little bit more of a mystery.
Between recruiters Googling their applicants before an interview, and the numerous opportunities offered on LinkedIn, having a positive online presence does effect whether you get that job.
If you utilize the tools LinkedIn has to offer, you can not only impress an employer with your skills and experience, but you can use the site to directly contact companies about new opportunities and search for job postings.
The first thing anyone sees on your page is your profile picture. Having a professional looking headshot makes all the difference. A headshot should be a centered, well-lit picture of you in interview attire taken by either a photographer or a friend with a nice camera. There is a time and place for posting selfies, and this is not it! Your picture should not be from a vacation, should not have other people in it, and it should not be cropped too close to your face. If you don’t have a pro headshot, be on the lookout for the next career fair. Most career-related campus events recruit students involved in the photography department to take free headshots!
After the picture, the next thing a viewer notices is the header at the top of the page with your name, location and your current position. Be sure your header is complete and has your updated information. Rather than putting your position in as “student,” write a customized summary on your page. Even if you don’t have a job, mentioning your aspirations and your graduation date opens more doors and lets employers learn a little more about you. Under the location section, in addition to adding ASU, if you are planning to move to a different city to work over the summer or post- grad, it’s a good idea to add that to your header as well.
URLs and Connecting to Other Applications
Did you know that LinkedIn allows you to make your own custom URL for your personal page? Under the header box, you have the option to edit the web address of your profile. Instead of using the random address the page comes with, make your custom link your first and last name to make it more memorable! You can also put your custom link on business cards if you have them, or post it on other forms of social media to boost traffic on your page.
Though it is okay to post a link to your professional profile to your personal Twitter or Facebook, be sure that you don’t sync your personal social media accounts to your LinkedIn. The site gives you the option to do so, but you are much better off keeping the two separate. You wouldn’t want your future boss to find your private Twitter by looking at your LinkedIn page!
Your Complete Online Resume
Having a LinkedIn profile gives you the opportunity to showcase all of the things that may not fit on your resume. If you are applying for a specific position, you usually narrow your resume to fit the job, but in the event that the employer visits your LinkedIn site, they can see all of the other great things you have done. In addition to copying and pasting in the descriptions from your resume, you also have the option to upload videos, writing samples and projects that help boost your appeal. Just make sure that your profile and your hard copy resume are consistent with one another!
Build a Following
Now you have this amazing profile, how to you build your professional network? The best place to start is with your classmates. Look for your friends in your major, your coworkers, and even certain professors you keep in contact with. People you see every day are most likely to add you to their network too and even give you endorsements your for skills on your page. If you go to a convention or conference, keep business cards and contact information and connect with them! If you’re requesting to connect with someone new, consider writing them a personalized request. You can choose to send the generic message, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” , but taking a minute send a custom note sends makes your request stand out and may help jog the person’s memory if you have just met.
Watch What Information the Site Sends Out
LinkedIn is a great resource to look for information, but sometimes it sends out a lot more information that you bargained for. Unless you check the box under the “notify my network” window on the right side, the site defaults to emailing all of your contacts whenever you edit your profile. Make sure you check “No do not publish an update to my network about my profile changes” or you will be spamming your bosses and professional connections every time you alter anything on your profile. That being said, in the event that you get a new job or promotion, you can definitely uncheck the box and notify your network of your achievements!
If you look at your home page, LinkedIn also offers you a look at who is viewing your profile. It’s really fun to see who is checking you out, but you do need to realize that other people also see when you visit their page! It’s easy to surf profiles for hours on Facebook, but unless you log out of your LinkedIn account, everyone will know you are stalking their page.
Search for Jobs
The biggest yet most under- used advantage of using LinkedIn is that you can actually find job postings, gather information on certain companies, and apply for jobs on the site. In the top menu there is an entire tab dedicated to searching for jobs. You can vary the results by field, location and company size and also save the job postings that catch your attention.
In addition to following people you know, start following companies you admire and would like to work for! You learn more about the company’s values and mission, find out about position openings, and you can also find and connect with people who work for the company.
Being connected with the university is also a huge advantage. If you visit the Appalachian State page, you can see the industries and companies alums work for. If you are interested in working for a particular company or you want to know about the industry, you can utilize the ASU alumni connection and send them a message and ask for advice or even if they know anyone hiring in the field.
Keep Your Profile Secure
Like any other social media site, you should monitor what information you are giving out. LinkedIn does provide you with custom privacy settings to control who can see your full profile, so don’t let the extra security go to waste. Never accept requests from strangers that have no connections in common with you. If you upload a .pdf copy of your resume, make sure that you leave off your addresses, telephone numbers, and email contact information that you usually leave at the top of your hard copy. If someone wants to contact you on LinkedIn, they can do so via the secure email measures the site has in place.
In today’s interconnected world, we are afforded more opportunities than ever before. With a killer profile and a little bit of reaching out you can make meaningful connections and score the job of your dreams!