Founded in 2002, LinkedIn is a business and employment orientated social networking system that is owned by Microsoft. With over a quarter of a billion users, it has come to light that the fastest growing demographic on the site is now students. A solid resume just isn’t enough anymore and so over 30 million students have now created their own LinkedIn profile to create a professional online presence. By joining LinkedIn, students can create a network of useful connections, keep up to date with connections and companies, and can research companies and opportunities that appeal to them.
Signing up is completely free, just head to the website and create your own profile. It is important that you complete a full profile in order to stand out from the crowd. When recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates they use key words to refine their searches. It is important to use the right lingo for whatever job sector you have an interest in. Find examples from job descriptions that you’re going after, or profiles of people who have the job you want and scatter these key words throughout your summary and skills and expertise section.
LinkedIn is the place to find and be found. The site has well over a million and a half student jobs and internships. Did you know that more than 9 in 10 companies use LinkedIn to recruit new employees? If you’re not on LinkedIn, you may as well not exist in the working world. To get you started, here are some must-dos for students and new-grads on LinkedIn.
- Upload a professional profile picture
Make sure the photo you take looks professional. Don’t worry, it can be taken on a mobile phone as long as it’s of high-quality and taken against a plain background. Wear a nice shirt, flash a smile and make sure you fit nicely in the frame. Profiles with a picture get 14 times more views than those without.
- Write a punchy headline
Your headline should be short, memorable and professional. There are 120 characters available to tell people what you’re excited about now and the cool things you want to do in the future. For example: “Honours student seeking marketing position.” Check out other profile headlines to give yourself some ideas!
- Describe yourself in a summary
Describe what motivates you, what you’re skilled at, and what you’re hoping to do in future. Be concise and confident about your goals and qualifications. It should be conversational in nature and less formal than a CV but still professional. You should use keywords and phrases that recruiters might search for. Go with terms that are well known (e.g., ‘product management,’ ‘graphic design,’ ‘data analysis’). Less is always more, so try to aim for about four paragraphs, don’t try to overdo it. List some previous jobs, demonstrate your skills and achievements, and add and update projects you have worked on in college.
- Show off your experience
List all the jobs you have had, including part-time ones. Elaborate on what you accomplished in each job and you can even include photos and videos from your work. 66% of companies hire based on experience. Always include volunteer activities if you have them, under “Volunteer Experience & Causes.” 41% of LinkedIn recruiters say they consider it on par with full-time paid work experience. It’s also a great profile addition as it tells people something unique and personal about you; it reveals your passions and rounds you out as a human being.
- Complete additional profile sections tailored to career starters.
Make sure to list all (relevant) part-time or unpaid work, including contracting or internships, you want people to know about. You can list organizations you’ve been involved with or support as well. If you earned a prize or recognition whether in or out of school or college, you can list it under “Honours & Awards.” You can also list classes, languages, certifications, or team projects that demonstrate the skills you’ve worked hard to acquire. Don’t forget to list all of your education in the education section, include your course and any study abroad or summer programs. Don’t be shy — LinkedIn is an appropriate place to show off your achievements and experience!
- Build a strong network so it’s there when you need it.
This is one of the most important parts of creating your professional online presence. Start by adding classmates, tutors, family, friends, and work colleagues past and present. Over time you can broaden your connections to include a larger set of family friends, co-workers, people you meet at conferences, etc. When you send a connection request, if it’s not someone you know well or have worked with, be sure to personalize it. Many people generally reject requests otherwise.
Don’t be afraid to ask managers, professors or classmates who have worked with you closely to endorse your skills or write you a recommendation for your profile. This will give you extra credibility to your strengths and skills.
- Claim your own personal LinkedIn URL
For many people, their LinkedIn profile shows up very high in a Google search, typically in the Top Five. To boost the professional results that appear when people search for you online, change your LinkedIn profile settings to ‘public’ and, also in settings, create a unique URL. This is also a handy link to use on your resume, bio on other social media like Twitter, and email signature.
You are now ready to set up a top-notch LinkedIn account. You can make an investment in your future by connecting with people and companies and finding jobs and opportunities. You can even start contributing to the website yourself. Like Facebook, you can share posts and comment and like articles, making yourself more visible on the website. Just remember, this is a professional social media site and if you wouldn’t say something in an interview, don’t say it here.
By Tarryn McGuire
Photo credit: Sheila Scarborough on Flickr