If you do not have a LinkedIn profile or you do not utilize it correctly, you are missing out on opportunities in the job world. LinkedIn is essentially the social media platform for employers, businesses, and professionals. It allows employers and businesses to post job openings and search for potential employees, and it allows job seekers to build an extended resume and post career-related content on their page.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, I realized just how important a good LinkedIn profile can be, so I decided to dedicate a lot of time to building my profile into what it is today. Here are some tips and tricks that I used to maximize my profile that has helped grow my network and gain valuable connections to help me further my future career:
When people first click on your page the first thing they will see will be an intro section of yourself. This includes your profile picture, a banner picture, your name, a headline, a current company, your most recent education, the area you are located in and contact information.
For your profile picture, ensure that it is a professional-looking headshot. Keep the picture shoulders up with your face clearly in view and limit background distractions. You do not have to be wearing professional attire such as a suit and tie, but do try to make sure you are wearing a neutral top with no weird cutouts or plunging v-necks.
Avoid using pictures from your high school or college graduation in a cap and gown because this can make companies reluctant to hire you. Also, avoid using a selfie or photos that have watermarks.
The banner image leaves a little room to show off your creativity, especially if that is a career path you are interested in. Try to use a photo that reflects the fields you are interested in or just a professionally-looking photo in general. It can be a cityscape or even as simple as a close-up picture of flowers.
Some professionals utilize their banner image by using it to show off their creative skills or their brand. This is especially useful if you are a social media manager, small business owner, public relations or graphic designer specialist, photographer or any other business that requires some sort of creativity.
The headline under your profile picture can be many different things. Since I am a student and I am very invoved on campus, I chose to list out all of my current titles including my major, my executive positions, and my internship title. Others have their job title and the company they work for.
Some even have their headlines use “action sentences” which are phrases about what they do. Examples of this include “Building powerful personal brands,” “I help people grow their engagement,” and “I help purpose-driven employees grow their career” to name a few.
About and Activity
The “About” section can be intimidating if you are unsure of what to write. I looked at tons of examples before deciding what to put in mine.
I orginally decided to introduce myself with my school, year, major, minor and certificate. Then I talked briefly about my coursework at Penn State as well as some of my extracurriculars. I have recently updated the about section to be more of an extended personal mission statement. My suggestion is to use the about section to create a summary of your professional experience, whether it be academic or work-related.
The activity section has all the posts you have either interacted with or created yourself. In regards to posting on LinkedIn, it is important to make them appropriate and meaningful.
Make posts about milestones in your professional career and career advice, life lessons, certifications, courses you have completed or personal career-related projects you have done. Most of my posts include new Her Campus articles that have recently been published that I authored and updates about new positions I have obtained. If you have a post that is particulary meaningful to you or had really high-engagement, you can even pin it to your profile with the “featured” option.
The experience section, similar to your entire LinkedIn profile, is an extension of your resume. Most people are unable to fit all of their experiences on a single-page resume, especially since resumes change depending on the job you are applying for. What I love about the experience section is that it gives a great place to show advancement through a company or organization.
For example, I am a part of two organizations at Penn State that I am very active in, Her Campus and ED2010. For ED2010 I simply started as a chapter member, but then moved into a Public Relations Manager role and eventually landed the role as President.
In Her Campus, I have held the positions of Wellness Writer, Career Writer, and recently Events Director. If you have held multiple positions in a club or company, big or small, list them out separately to show advancement. It not only adds depth to your profile but demonstrates your growth within the organization.
Education is a fairly self-explanatory section. Start by putting the high school you graduated from and simply list all the activities you were involved in as well as any honors or awards you received in high school. You do not need any specific details, but this can help show that you reflect some interests or personality traits of yours.
Next, you add any other type of education you have received such as a degree from a college or certifications from tech schools. I recommend listing the type of degree (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Masters, etc) as well as any minors or certificates associated with the degree. In this section, I have also included a list of activities and societies I am involved in that correlate to my educational experience.
I feel it is important to include all the places you attended school on your profile because if there is a fellow alumni in your industry that stumbles on your page, they might feel more comfortable reaching out since you share an alma mater.
The “extra” sections are the parts of a LinkedIn profile that are often overlooked. If you click on the “add more sections” button at the top of your profile you will be provided with a list of things that you can add. I recommend looking these over and adding as many options as you can to increase the versatility of your profile.
The volunteering section is one of these profile extensions that I recommend every person fill out. Employers like to see volunteer experience, especially when they are a community-based company. List all the volunteering you have done which can include fundraising for nonprofits, volunteering at school, camps, or church functions, helping out at shelters or anything that fits into the volunteer category.
Some of the other add-ons I have put on my profile include skills, publications, courses, projects, honors and awards, languages, organizations, and causes. All of these allow you to go deeper into your resume and display what you have accomplished. They also can give potential recruiters an insight into what you have done in your career.
If you are unsure of what to put in these sections, feel free to check out my profile for inspiration and even connect with me on LinkedIn! I have seen too many profiles neglect these sections when they are a very valuable tool in a LinkedIn profile.
So why is it important to have a good online presence with your LinkedIn Profile? It’s simple, employers will start reaching out to you. I did not realize this was something that occurred until after I put in the time to build up my profile to what it is now.
A wonderful company reached out to me to introduce themselves. Why did they reach out to me? They said it was because they were impressed with my LinkedIn profile and the experience it had. I have even had recruiters reach out to me to invite me to apply for their internships and I have even recieved a job offer.
A good LinkedIn profile attracts people who want to network with you and employers who want to hire you… so what are you waiting for? Go polish your profile!