So, you bit the bullet and got yourself a LinkedIn account. Congratulations, you are one step closer to landing your dream job!
LinkedIn is a magical hub filled with job postings, networking, industry insight/expertise and so much more. It’s so important for professionals, especially college students, to get on LinkedIn, stay engaged and stand out to recruiters and hiring managers.
“How do I slay the LinkedIn game,” you ask? Well, it starts with having an awesome profile, but it doesn’t end there! There will be other Experience ADITL articles on other ways to slay LinkedIn. But today, We’re providing you with a checklist to follow for a stellar profile.
First thing’s first….
Narrow down what you want to get out of LinkedIn
Whether it be a getting a new job, staying on top of industry news, networking with professionals in your industry, keeping up with the competition, or finding clients, keep this goal or goals in mind every time you’re writing a post, sharing an article, updating your biography or experience, and/or messaging others. You are essentially selling yourself—you’ve got to make your intentions clear and cite your experience to back it up.
Choose the right profile picture (400 x 400)
A study conducted by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov came to the conclusion that a person’s first impression of a stranger takes a tenth of a second. I repeat, you have less.than.one.second. to make a good impression on hiring managers, recruiters, and other professionals, so you better put your best foot—or should I say face—forward. For a good profile picture, look straight at the camera, be sure to smile and squinch—it’s all the rage—and dress for the role you want, not the role you have! Be sure to crop it so, at least, your shoulders and head are showing and at most, your torso. Our Experience ADITL podcast guest and professional photographer Paige Rigoglioso shared her own experience taking headshots when she first started out saying she would charge people $20 to take their headshot when she was first starting out. That means cheaper options are available, so there’s no excuse!
Write an enticing Professional Headline and Summary
Your Professional Headline appears right under your name and your Summary appears below your Professional Headline on your profile. Your professional headline defaults to your most recent experience you added on your profile, but customizing it can make you stand out from similar candidates if you use similar keywords. A professional headline represents who you are, what you stand for and what you’re passionate about, but keep it short—you only have 120 characters. Use symbols like | or * to section off your headline and make it more legible.
Your summary is exactly what it sounds like, a summary of you! This is where you can specify what you’re looking for from your network, what interests you, what you want to learn more about, and what you can offer. You have a 2,000 character limit but 250-500 should suffice! No one, especially recruiters, wants to read through a long essay.
Add your experience: work, volunteer, and education
This is the bread and butter of your profile. The experience section is where you list your work experience thus far and what your responsibilities were at that role. The best part about LinkedIn is you don’t have to worry about keeping all of your experience on one page, like you do with a resume. You can list any and all of your work experiences! College students, if you only have lifeguarding, cashier, server, retail or anything like that as your only experience it’s okay, add it! You can learn amazing skills in jobs like this—do mention them—but the goal should be to get positions more aligned with your desired industry to land your dream job, so keep that in mind.
Need an internship to add to your LinkedIn profile? Click here to sign up for the ADITL Student Experience and join the #ADITLArmy—we can help you get in front of the industry professionals you want to be one day!
Be sure to also add any volunteer experience and school you attended. I would recommend to include high school and beyond—Anything before that is unnecessary. It’s debatable if high school is necessary to include, but I say go for it! You never know if a certain recruiter or hiring manager could be a fellow alum of that high school.
Upload relevant media and attachments to each experience
The more information and examples of your work you’ve posted on your profile, the better sense your network and hiring managers can get of you. Also feel free to attach your physical resume—although you should consider your LinkedIn profile as your resume—presentations, articles, and any other materials that would be helpful.
Add skills and ask for endorsements
Let people know what you can do! Adding skills is especially important if you don’t have an internship or job to showcase the fact that you know how to do something. Having a teacher, friend, co-worker or family member endorse you for that skill confirms you’re not just saying you’re good at something so you look better! AND bonus points if that person is “highly skilled” in that skill—for real, it’ll say, “endorsed by NAME, who is highly skilled at this.”
Make a custom URL
Any chance you get to add your name on things, you should take it. On the top right corner of your profile, it should read “Edit public profile & URL.” There, you can customize your LinkedIn profile slug to include your full name so employers can easily find you. That’s way more ideal than having a random generated combination of letters.
You most likely scroll through your other social media feeds—why not loop in LinkedIn?! You can learn a lot just by reading what other people are posting or linking. Comment, like, and share other people’s posts and write posts of your own. Posts can be whatever you want them to be about, as long a you keep it professional. People mostly share things they find interesting about an industry, something they learned, a question they have, or successes and failures they’ve been through to give you an idea. LinkedIn, if you do it right, can be an awesome community—use that your advantage!
Build your network with intention
The more people you are connected to on LinkedIn, the more visible your profile will be in searches and the more people you can network with and learn from. However, you don’t want to be connected to just anyone. Your connections should be aligned with industries that you’re interested in and can bring value to you—that’s what LinkedIn’s for! If you aren’t interested in real estate at all, don’t accept the connection from a random woman in real estate you’ve never met. (But if she’s someone you’ve met at an event or something like that, that’s a different story!)
If you’ve checked all the boxes, you’re set! If you haven’t, now you know what you need to work on. See, LinkedIn isn’t so scary after all! And don’t forget, we want to grow together. We’re here for you—join the #ADITLArmy as the stepping stone into your next career! Sign up here.
For more tips and tricks, LinkedIn has tons of resources for students here.