Words and graphics by Aspasia Celia Tsampas
For any rising professional, especially as a college student, the number one tool to show off all your accomplishments and make you an ideal candidate is LinkedIn. While setting up a profile can seem daunting and time-consuming, and the idea of networking even more terrifying, LinkedIn is the best way to connect professionally with people, display all your hard work, and even find and apply to jobs.
So, to help you curate the best LinkedIn in the greater metropolitan area, here are 3 tips:
Setting up your profile
First, you have to set up your profile! While this could be the most time-consuming part of LinkedIn, it is also the most fun and creative. Plus, this is your outlet to brag about your accomplishments in the best way possible. Before we get into the body and content of your profile, first impressions are everything and your photo is key. You want to choose a photo that is both professional yet shows off a bit of your personality. You don’t need a professional headshot to accomplish this! A photo good quality photo will do.
Next is your headline. This is a one-sentence, very concise summary of who you are in the professional context. Your headline is the first thing people see after your photo, so it is very important you hook valuable connections and recruiters. Therefore, don’t put “Fiery Aries with a passion for iced coffee” (even if that may be true). It should be something more like “Freelance Content Writer and Editor.” Keep this short and sweet because you can expand later in your summary or the “About” section.
This section is a small paragraph explaining your status as either a student or recent grad, as well as what opportunities you are looking for in what industry. For example, it can say something like “A bookworm pursuing a dual degree in the English and Ad/PR programs at The City College of New York. Actively looking for opportunities to grow as a professional in the Media Communications Industry.”
The remainder of your profile is just you and your experiences! Take the time to plug in all your experiences. One of the great things about LinkedIn is the fact that it becomes a much more in-depth, virtual resume. Maybe you had to cut some cool, but not extremely relevant, experiences of your physical resume. Feel free to put anything and everything on LinkedIn, you never know what is going to catch the eye of a recruiter and showing off all your hard work is never a bad thing!
Besides the basic work experience and education portions, LinkedIn also has plugins for all your past accomplishments. They have options to input licenses and certifications, volunteer experiences, skills, publications, patents, courses, projects, honors and awards, test scores, languages spoken, and organizations you are involved in. While not all of these are necessary to create a robust and competitive profile, if you have any of these, it doesn’t hurt to include them.
Like all forms of social media, it’s all about making connections. For LinkedIn, this means connecting with peers, colleagues, professors, recruiters, and possible employers. You never know who may land a job at a company you’re passionate about and prove a valuable resource for getting your own in. Once you create your profile, LinkedIn will likely ask you to connect with all these possible connections from linking other social media profiles, like Facebook. While you don’t have to mass connect all, go through and connect with everyone and anyone you know.
The easiest connections to make are your peers from both high school and college. This will likely lead you to alumni as well (Connecting with an alumnus who has your dream job is a great way to get your foot in the door). Additionally, if you got along well with a certain professor and see them as someone you could look to professionally, connect with them. If you had a great professor but they may not remember exactly who you were, a little note reminding them will do the trick. Remember, professors more often than not are in that profession to help students reach their goals!
Never be afraid to add anyone on LinkedIn. Reaching out to recruiters or people who hold the jobs you desire is a great way to get more information on how to apply. Recruiters and possible employers love when candidates take the initiative of that extra step to get to know them more and the position. It shows that you are really passionate and driven. Also, most people and higher-ups love to talk about themselves, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for an informational interview as well.
Posting your accomplishments
Once you’ve done all that, the key to a successful LinkedIn profile is to never stop updating. Did you recently attend a great event/conference at a company you really admire? Post about it! Tag the recruiters or employees you met and thank them for a wonderful, informational time! It may seem awkward, but this is LinkedIn after all, the exact place you should be doing this stuff! Did you get an offer for an amazing job/internship! Post about that too! It’s a great way for your connections and the people that helped you to get to where you are, to celebrate your accomplishments. Additionally, you should return the favor and cheer on your peers and connections when you see their accomplishments on your feed! Think of LinkedIn as the more wholesome, professional Instagram, where your friends deserve equal the hype.
Now that you have created a complete and personal profile, connected with people and posted your accomplishments, you’re ready to fully use LinkedIn as a great professional database. While these tools are the basics that can help you create a great LinkedIn profile, it is important to remember that not all LinkedIn profiles look the same and there isn’t one layout for success. Depending on who you are, what you do, and where you want to go, everyone’s path and LinkedIn profile look different. LinkedIn can seem daunting at first and you may not think you need it yet if you’re an undergrad, but it’s never too early to plan your next step and set yourself up for success professionally.