This post was written by Thomas Wolff. Thomas Wolff is the Managing Editor of Resume Mastermind, a boutique resume writing firm that works with clients ranging from students to senior executives to create interview-winning resumes, job search letters, bios, and social media profiles.
As upperclassman start thinking about internships and their first position after graduation, it’s more important than ever to start building a professional online presence. Employers want to pre-qualify each candidate, and with the availability of online information out there, even if you don’t share your online profiles, they are going to do a search for your name anyway to see what pops up. So why not point them in the right direction by proactively establishing a professional profile that you can confidently include in your resume and/or cover letter?
While Facebook and Twitter are fun and great ways to share photos and personal information with your closest friends and family members, LinkedIn is the one online platform that can actually shape your future. LinkedIn is the biggest and most powerful social network specifically designed for professionals. With over 200 million users, it is likely that every company you may be thinking of applying to right now will have at least one employee on LinkedIn.
Here are six tips to make the most of LinkedIn as you prepare to enter the professional world.
1) Understand LinkedIn’s Value In The Social World
LinkedIn isn’t necessarily “sexy,” and it’s unlikely that you’ll spend hours each day browsing the site, like you would Facebook. Nor is it a source of immediate gratification or entertainment, as photos, videos, and constant status updates aren’t a primary component of the platform. LinkedIn is basically a dynamic version of your online resume, enabling you to research, connect, and engage with the people and companies who can help propel your career.
2) Write An Informative Profile Headline
Your headline should give people a brief and clear way to understand the professional version of you. Think of the headline as a slogan for your professional profile. You can get creative, using something like, “Emerging marketing practitioner with interests in public relations and marketing communications.” Or, you can include more specific information: “Finance student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater seeking a position in investment banking in the Chicago area.”
3) Use A Professional Photo
To prove your credibility and attract the attention of employers, it is important to build and promote a professional appearance. Use a professional quality headshot, not an angled picture that you snapped with your cell phone in front of the bathroom mirror, and definitely not a Facebook profile picture of you out on the town. If you can’t afford to pay for a professional photoshoot, then find a friend who knows their way around a digital camera. Check out some truly awful LinkedIn headshots.
4) Tell A Story In The Summary Section
The summary presents a great opportunity to share with your network who you are, what you’re aspiring to do after graduation, and how your unique experiences and academic achievements will help you get there. Be clear and specific about what you want. People are much more likely to find you and to help you if you state you’re “in search of a brand management position with a leading consumer product goods company” than they are if you say you are just “looking for a job.”
5) Show You’ve Done Something Worthwhile
In a perfect world, you’ve already completed a fantastic summer internship with a company that aligns perfectly with your targeted post-graduation job. Unfortunately, not everybody can say that, so include any relevant volunteer work, extracurricular activities, college jobs, or freelance work you can and describe the impact that you had in each role.
6) Build Your Network
I would recommend starting to connect with your core network of classmates, friends, colleagues and others whom you have in your immediate circles. Then you can grow your reach and influence through direct engagements, sharing content, and following groups. If the people you are reaching out to do not know you, it’s important to give them a reason to talk to you, and provide the reason you want to talk to them. Also, don’t be shy about asking for recommendations from your colleagues, managers, or professors.
Like any good media platform, LinkedIn is intuitive and easy to use. Any time you invest now in crafting your profile and connecting with those who can open the right doors for you will pay dividends once your job search is underway.
If you would like help setting up your own LinkedIn account, schedule an appointment with one of the career counselors!
Photo by Southern Arkansas University.