If you want to find a job, you need to be at least as active on Linkedin as you are on Facebook. Most employers these days look for you on Linkedin before moving forward. You profile page should be an extension of your resume and/or portfolio. Another great thing about Linkedin you aren’t utilizing are the networking possibilities. So, instead of just changing your name on Facebook so potential and current employers can’t find that photo of you from that one night, properly represent yourself on Linkedin. We’re on it, so do the following then make sure to connect with us.
Post a profile photo.
Some college students are wary of including their profile pictures on LinkedIn for fear of looking too young. But Williams explains a profile picture could actually work in your favor. A photo provides a face for your digital personality and helps recruiters see you as a human, rather than a hyperlink.
Include coursework and extracurriculars.
Your LinkedIn profile should weave together the story of your professional development, so it’s good to be as detailed as possible. Include information about relevant coursework, clubs and organizations in which you’ve participated at school. If you’ve done any internships or gained work experience, be specific about what skills you developed, how many hours you worked or how many students you tutored.
“Part of your differentiator as a college student is that you know technology and you know how to build a professional brand,” says Williams. “Employers want to know that you can bring that to their company.”
Show off your schoolwork.
You can now visually illustrate your skills with rich media, such as pictures and videos. If you have a presentation you’re especially proud of, or a design project you executed for an internship, include it on your profile to help recruiters visualize what type of talent you bring to the table.
Ask professors and advisers for recommendations.
One common misconception of LinkedIn recommendations is that they have to come from previous employers. A recommendation from a university professor or academic adviser, especially one with experience in your desired field, speaks volumes to your ability to stand out from the crowd. Aim to get recommendations from professors who know you personally, or who have a good sense of your work ethic, and can speak specifically to your accomplishments in the classroom.
Connect with industry leaders.
One of the most exciting aspects of social media is the access it gives you to influential people in your industry. Don’t be intimidated by someone’s professional clout; reach out to people whose careers you admire, but be sure to personalize your request to connect.
Your request should include two elements, says Williams. The first should contain a detail that connects you to the person. Look at his or her LinkedIn profile and pull out a piece of information that will help you personalize your request. Ideally, include something you both have in common, like a hometown or a favorite publication. If you can’t find anything significant to mention, offer a compliment or a respectful comment about the person’s professional work instead.
Second, include a reason. Why do you want to connect with this person? Your reason should not be a request for a job. Instead, engage him or her with a request for career advice, a personal question, or offer up a skill that could be of service.
Right before he graduated from college, John Kowalski used Twitter and LinkedIn to network with PR industry professionals. Once he had connected with people in his industry, he offered his services free of charge.
“I wanted to demonstrate that I had a passion and that I would do whatever it took to get my foot in the door. I didn’t need to tell them that I was looking for a job; they knew why I was there. But I wanted to be the first person on their mind when a new position came on the table,” he explains.
Sure enough, when a position opened up in the same company at a neighboring branch, Kowalski’s connection called in and strongly recommended him. “My application was in the ‘maybe’ pile, but that phone call turned me from a maybe into being hired for the position.”
Comment on industry-specific articles.
When you post industry-specific articles, you prove you are passionate, engaged and paying attention to your career of choice.
Avoid including controversial or personal opinions on LinkedIn, unless you want that opinion to be associated with your professional persona. Instead, suggests Williams, offer a professional takeaway or ask a thoughtful question. This shows that you are not just reading industry-specific news; you are also engaging with it analytically.
Ask questions in LinkedIn groups.
LinkedIn groups are a great way to engage directly with people in your industry and establish yourself as a contributor rather than a passive reader.
“One of the best ways to get noticed is to elicit conversations and ask smart questions,” Williams advises.
While the saying “there are no stupid questions” may ring true in most situations, be conscientious of what you ask in groups. Do a bit of research, or at the very least a Google search, before you ask a question. This will ensure you convey an informed professional persona, and your questions will most likely be stronger if they don’t have an easy answer.
Look into different career paths.
LinkedIn lets today’s college students access information on career paths in a way no other generation could. Now, you not only see where someone has gotten in her career, but how she got there. More often than not, people are surprised to see how non-linear careers are today. And who knows, looking at someone else’s career path may inspire you to take a chance you otherwise wouldn’t.
Check for spelling and grammar errors.
As is the case with any professional work, your LinkedIn profile should be error-free. After you’ve combed through your profile for spelling errors, ask a friend to look it over for unclear phrases or grammatical faux pas.