You have a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so your time spent on social media is at full capacity. However full your schedule may be, you should make time for LinkedIn. Although it might not be as fun, maintaining a LinkedIn profile is crucial for young graduates. LinkedIn’s function is inherently more professional than other social media sites, and if properly produced, can earn you a job rather than just a ‘like.’
What goes in the top section?
You’re an interesting person with passions and potential, but employers don’t know that unless you tell them. The perfect place to tell them is the ‘About Me’ section of your LinkedIn page. Think of it this way: your resume is a coloring book- the outline is there and you can see the picture, but it’s only in black and white. Meanwhile, your LinkedIn profile is a full-color portrait, illuminating details and shadows that are otherwise absent.
Traci, Hiring Expert from Accenture, explains, “A LinkedIn summary should offer something that the rest of your profile can’t. It is a way to show your personality and add some color to your work experience and education. Rather than simply listing the things that you did during your jobs or internships, explain what you enjoyed or interested you about the work.”1 Potential employers are looking for more than qualifications, they’re also looking for someone who is a good fit with their own company values. Feel free to talk about your passions and career aspirations. Detailing who you are as a person will help employers to picture you as a part of their company.
But I’ve never had a ‘real’ job…
Many young professionals exit college without career-related job experience in their desired field. Even so, it’s still important to make a LinkedIn profile page and include past work experiences. Listing part-time retail, food-service, or on-campus jobs can still provide a potential employer with an idea of who you are. If you have any internship experience, that’s even better.
Steve, Hiring Expert from Caterpillar, says, “Even though the jobs may not be directly connected to the career that you are working to establish, they do speak to your work ethic. They show that you have been willing to be a full-time student and work part-time to help finance your education. This not only speaks to your work ethic, but to your character as well.”2
As always, be sure to explain transferable skills. After you land a professional job and your career path becomes more fleshed out, you can remove the unrelated part-time experiences from your profile.
With whom do I connect?
LinkedIn offers a feature that measures the strength of your profile. Take the time to make your page as strong as possible. After you’ve filled in all of your information, it’s time to form connections with other people on the platform (this will further bolster your page and make it more visible to recruiters).
To begin making connections, search for colleagues and classmates. Amy, a Hiring Expert at Textron, adds that “Those colleagues should be people you have met in real life and know you as an individual. You can also connect with those you haven't met in person but you know enough about them to be able to describe them to another person and vice versa. This boils down to your friends, professors, family, colleagues from past jobs, etc.”3 It’s important to begin by adding people who you actually know before moving on to the next step.
One of the benefits of LinkedIn is finding mutual connections. As Ashlyn, Hiring Expert from Worthington Industries, explains, “Once you've established a network, you can then start reaching out to people you'd like to know (people who work at a company you're interested in, those in the same field as you, etc.). Make sure when connecting you send a quick note to those people letting them know why you're connecting with them.”4 You’re much more likely to achieve a successful connection if there is a mutual friend between you; be sure to check the list of your friends’ connections to see if there is anyone who you would also like to connect with. If so, you can ask your friend to provide an introduction. In so doing, you’ve begun the process of networking - greatly valuable in person and digitally.
Many people make the mistake of believing that LinkedIn is only for those who don’t have a job or are unhappy in their current position. This isn’t true; even if you already have the perfect job, you should still have a presence on LinkedIn. You never know what the future will bring, so it’s best to be prepared. Having a well-maintained LinkedIn profile will help you grow your professional network and jumpstart your career.