I would argue that LinkedIn is one of the most important forms of social media for a young professional. It’s the first network that HR specialists check when they’re considering new hires because it’s basically a digital resume. The HR team at my internship said that if a candidate doesn’t have a good LinkedIn, they won’t consider them. That might sound harsh at first, but honestly, it makes sense. Any young professional in today’s age who takes their career seriously should have a well-developed profile. That being said, if you don’t have one, go make one right this moment. It’s okay, I’ll wait here until you’re back.
Created your profile? Great. Now let’s talk about how you should go about making it the best profile possible.
Your LinkedIn profile picture should be a professional-looking headshot, not an artsy candid. Save that for a fire Instagram post!
- Make sure you have a clean appearance
- Wear something professional (extra points for a blazer!)
- Take the photo in a well-lit location
- Pose in front of a busy background
- Include other people in your picture (we can tell when you crop them out)
- Use a full-body photo
- Make any weird/rude gestures
Detailed top card
Your LinkedIn top card is the little rectangle of information at the top of your profile. It includes your profile photo, name, title, current workplace, education institution, location, and number of connections, along with a long description and any media you upload.
Your title is essentially what shows up after your name. Personally, I like to make it the position I’m currently holding. For instance, “Customer Service Specialist at *Insert Company Here*”. I know other people who prefer to make their major and school as their title: “Apparel Merchandising Student at Iowa State University.” Basically make it however you want to sell yourself.
Also, stay true to your location! If you live 3 hours outside of Chicago, don’t say that you’re located in the Chicago area. Save that for the people who actually live within the Chicagoland limits.
Your long description is basically your elevator pitch, or what you would tell a potential employer in 30 seconds or less. Shout out your major strengths, skills, and anything you think separates you from the rest of the crowd.
Post-high school education
Include any and all post-secondary education you received in your life! Whether you went to trade school, a traditional university, studied abroad, went somewhere for your masters and PhD, took a course at some random school over the summer…all of it. Not only does it show your diverse academic background and the things you studied, but HR people often have a special place in their hearts for people who went to their school. So yes, even if you just took summer classes at a random university, it could be just what you need to get in good with the hiring manager!
Skills & endorsements
This is where you get to show off all your skills! Let people know every trick you have hidden up your sleeve. You never know what skills potential future employers may be looking for.
After you enter all your skills, see if you can get anyone to endorse you on those skills. You can talk all you want about how you’re an expert coder, but if no one endorses you, then you really have no proof.
Hint: Endorse other people’s skills, and they’ll likely endorse a few of yours!
The accomplishment section includes all of the following: Publications, awards, certifications, courses, test scores, projects, patents, languages, and organizations.
Dazzle everyone with your high LSAT score, your ability to speak 4 languages, and that you’re published in the New York Times! Show everyone that they are missing out by not hiring you.
If you don’t have much to put in here yet, don’t worry! Just start by sharing the courses you’ve taken that are relevant to what you want to do in your career. You’ll fill this section up in no time!
Other best practices
If you’re active on LinkedIn, there are some other things you should be aware of!
Pages you follow/Groups you’re in
Yes, HR looks at the pages you follow! A key thing they look for is that you follow companies that are similar to theirs. That shows them that you’re really interested in that field! Also make sure that whenever you apply for a job at a company, you follow them on LinkedIn. It’s not required, but it definitely gets you brownie points.
Your activity shows on your profile
That’s right. Everything you like, comment on, and share stays on your profile forever. Yep, even that funny career-related-yet-slightly-inappropriate meme that your friend posted and you liked last year. The best way to navigate LinkedIn is to stay positive, never badmouth a company, and only like and share things that are appropriate.
Make meaningful connections
How many connections you have doesn’t matter near as much as the quality of said connections. Try connecting with people in your field, even classmates and professors at your university! Someone may know someone else that could help advance your career!
Those are my tips on how to navigate LinkedIn and have the best profile possible! I hope that you were able to learn a thing or two from this post and that you’ll share it with your friends! My last bit of advice is to never underestimate the value of a well-developed profile!
Want to connect on LinkedIn? I’d love to connect with more people from the Blog-O-Sphere!
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